Ulkis wrote:but Hugo transplanted it to a fictional neighborhood at the last minute on the advice of his editor, who wanted to avoid direct offense towards religious communities and the potential unpleasant consequences.
That's odd, considering that the convent is portrayed as Valjean's most favorite place ever. But I guess the editor figured better safe than sorry.
Two mistresses from these convent schools? They obviously were not doing their job quite right.
I suspect this is another thing, like the Bishop, where the subversive message can sail right over the head of a modern reader. In this case it might be eyebrow-raising that some random dude knows all about this convent (especially when he goes into so much detail about their security precautions so that no profane eyes can get in), it's probably hackle-raising that he dwells on the severity of their order and uses them as a springboard for Hugo's Thoughts On Everything in a not-always-fully-respectful way, and it's definitely reason for offense that he wraps up that section with a Parenthesis condeming monasticism.
Excellent, thanks! (Since I nerded up this thread like whoa anyway *facepalm*)
From what I can dig up:
The Dictionnaire historique de Paris has an entry for the Bénédictines de l'adoration du saint-sacrement. The original convent began in 1653 in the rue Férou, then moved in 1669 to the rue Cassette. It was destroyed in the Revolution but was re-established in the rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève (doesn't say what year).
There's also a brief listing for a "dames de l'adoration perpétuelle du saint-sacrement", established after 1814 at no. 80, rue du Temple.
Does that help at all?
Okay, I dug up my Paris au temps des Misérables which wasn't actually at school, just hiding behind bigger books on the shelf. Here's what it has to say:
- The name "Petit-Picpus" is a reference to the rue de Picpus which had lots of convents on it, including one called the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary of the Perpetual Adoration, right next to the cemetery, at #35 rue de Picpus.
- Hugo's anecdotes mostly come from the original location, the convent of the Benedictines of the Blessed Sacrament in the rue Tournefort/rue Neuve-Ste-Geneviève. Léonie Biard, whom he was sleeping with from 1844 to 1849, hadn't been a student there, but a relative of hers (Hyacinthe d'Orémieulx) had been, and passed along the stories. Biard also visited the other location of the same order in the rue du Temple while looking for a place to have her daughter educated.
- From 1816 to 1821 (five years, like Cosette), Juliette Drouet was a student at the Dames de Sainte-Madeleine, who apparently shared a garden with the Dames de Saint-Michel, in the rue Saint-Jacques. She also supplied some of the anecdotes, and the names of the nuns are an extended series of puns and references to Juliette and Léonie.