2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/11

Abaissé re-reads the novel in its entirety! All welcome, no matter whether you're reading in French or some other translation. Discussion topics for each step along the way.

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2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/11

Postby Ulkis » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:04 am

Volume 2: Cosette, book 8: Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on leur donne/Cemetaries Take What They are Given

Chapters:

1. Où il est traité de la manière d'entrer au couvent/Which Treats of the Method of Entering a Convent
2. Fauchelevent en présence de la difficulté/Fauchelevent Deals with a Problem
3. Mère Innocente
4. Où Jean Valjean a tout à fait l'air d'avoir lu Austin Castillejo/Strategem of an Ex-Prisoner*
5. Il ne suffit pas d'être ivrogne pour être immortel//Not Even Grave-Diggers Are Immortal
6. Entre quatre planches/The Narrow Walls
7. Où l'on trouvera l'origine du mot: ne pas perdre la carte/The Missing Card
8. Interrogatoire réussi/Successful Interview
9. Clôture/Seclusion

*Gotta love it when Denny just totally makes stuff up

Well I think the first chapter title pretty much sums this book up: it treats of the method of entering a convent. More specifically, Fauchelevent and Valjean come up with a crazy plan to find a way to let Valjean and Cosette stay in the convent.

This was my favorite book to rediscover in the reread. Very engaging and Mother Innocente is a delightful character. (Which make it all the worse that that Gerard Depardieu mini-series has so much of her yet doesn't have any of the humor the character has in the book!)

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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/11

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:07 am

I am just wondering: is Valjean's coffin escape one of the earliest examples in classical literature of this form of escape? Or has someone tried this before in a story?
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/11

Postby Ulkis » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:11 pm

I was going to say I don't know any other examples of using a coffin to escape at all, before or after Les Misérables, but something's come to mind - in the biography "The Alexiad" by Anna Komnene, which was about her father the Byzantine emperor Alexius I in the 12th century, she wrote about one of her father's rivals, Bohemond, escaping in a coffin. I don't know if that counts because it's (probably) not fictional, but that's the only other instance I can think of.

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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:23 pm

Notes

Chapter 1
1 (half townsman, half peasant): La Fontaine, dans Le Jardinier et son seigneur :
Un amateur de jardinage
Demi-bourgeois, demi-manant... (Fables, IV, 4.)

La Fontaine, in The Gardener and His Lord:
“An amateur gardener
Half townsman, half peasant . . .” (Fables, IV, 4.)

2 (my piolle/shanty): Taverne, auberge du dernier rang, chambre ; premier emploi attesté : Vidocq, Les Voleurs, 1836.
Tavern, inn of the lowest rank, bedroom; first usage attested: Vidocq, The Thieves, 1836.

Chapter 3
3 (Hanc igitur oblationem.): << Cette offrande donc... >> : premier mots de la prière précédant la << consécration >>.
“This offering thus . . .”: first words of the prayer preceding the “consecration”.

4 (an admirable fruit): Hugo s'amuse ici à pasticher la langue dévote, comme il l'a déjà fait pour la prose journalistique (II, 2, 1) et l'éloquence judiciaire (I,7, 9). Sur ce démontage des codes sociaux, voir l'étude de F. Vernier : << Les Misérables : un text intraitable >> dans Lire Les Misérables, J. Corti, 1985.
Hugo here has fun making a pastiche of devotional language, as he had already done for journalistic prose (II, 2, 1) and judicial eloquence (I,7, 9). On this dismantling of social codes, see F. Vernier's study: “Les Misérables: An Uncompromising Text” in Reading Les Misérables, J. Corti, 1985.

5 (Acarus): L'insecte de la gale.
The insect that causes scabies.

6 (vulvitur orbis): << La croix reste fixe tandis que tourne le monde. >>
“The cross stays fixed while the world turns.”

Chapter 4
7 (Austin Castillejo): Cet auteur, comme ses écrits, semble de l'invention de Hugo.
This author, as his works, seems Hugo's invention.

8 (and to exit from it): En fait, peu de jours avant sa mort, en septembre 1558, Charles Quint aurait organisé et contemplé le spectacle de ces propres funérailles.
In fact, some days before his death, in September 1558, Charles V would have organised and contemplated the spectacle of his own funeral rites.

Chapter 5
9 (Vaugirard Cemetery): Ce cimetière déjà cité (voir II, 6, note 5) était en cours de désaffectation à cette date. Mais c'est là qu'avaient été enterrés Lahorie en 1812 et la mère de Victor Hugo en 1821.
This cemetery already cited (see II, 6, note 5) was in the process of shutting down at this date. But here is where Lahorie in 1812 and Victor Hugo's mother in 1821 were buried.

Chapter 6
10 (videant semper): << Ceux qui dorment dans la poussière de la terre se réveilleront, les uns dans la vie éternelle, les autres dans le tourment, les yeux ouverts pour toujours. >> Cette phrase démarque les versets de l'Évangile de saint Jean (V, 28-29) lus à l'office du 2 novembre : << […] l'heure vient où ceux qui sont dans les sépulcres en sortiront au son de sa voix, ceux qui ont fait le bien pour une résurrection de vie, et ceux qui ont fait le mal ressusciteront pour être condamnés. >>
“Those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some into eternal life, the others into torment, their eyes open forever.” This phrase marks the verses of the Gospel of John (5:28-9) read at the office of November 2: “. . . the hour comes when those who are in their tombs will come out at the sound of his voice, those who have done good for a resurrection of life, and those who have done evil will be revived in order to be condemned.”

11 (luceat ei): << - Des profondeurs. (voir II, 3, note 4.)
- Donne-lui, Seigneur, le repos éternel.
- Et que la lumière brille sans fin pour lui. >> Ce sont les formules du rituel catholique de l'inhumation.

“The depths.” (see II, 3, note 4.)
“Give him, Lord, eternal rest.”
“And may the light shine without end for him.” These are the formulas of the Catholic ritual of inhumation (burial).

Chapter 7
12 (Don't Lose the Map): << Perdre la carte : se troubler, s'égarer, se brouiller dans ses idées. Se dit par allusion à un capitaine qui, ayant perdu ses cartes, ne saurait comment se diriger. >> (P. Larousse, Grand dictionnaire...)
“To lose the map: to become flustered, to get lost, to get all muddled in one's ideas. Meaning comes by allusion to a captain who, having lost his charts, would not know which way to turn.” (P. Larousse, Great Dictionary)

Chapter 8
13 (like a child): Hugo a vécu enfant, avec ses frères, cette expérience du silence, ayant à garder le secret sur la présence de Lahorie aux Feuillantines.
Hugo had lived, as a child, with his brothers, this experience of silence, having kept the secret of Lahorie's presence at the Feuillantines.

14 (satisfied God): Hugo démarque l'injonction évangélique : << Rendez à César [c'est-à-dire à l'Empereur] ce qui est à César, et à Dieu ce qui est à Dieu. >>
Hugo marks the evangelical injunction: “Render under Caesar [that is to say to the Emperor] what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.”

Chapter 9
15 (always kept the key on him): Le lecteur retrouvera cette valise en V, 6, 3 sous le nom de << l'inséparable >>. Ces reliques complètent les flambeaux, comme Cosette a succédé à Mgr Bienvenu. Hugo lui aussi avait conservé, toujours visible à Villequier, la robe que portait Léopoldine le jour de sa mort.
The reader will find this valise again in V, 6, 3 under then name “the Inseparable”. These relics compliment the candlesticks, as Cosette has succeeded to Mgr Bienvenu. Hugo himself had saved, still visible at Villequier, the dress that Léopoldine had worn on the day of her death.

16 (at the bottom of the garden): Cette baraque, comme plus tard l'arrière-maison de la rue Plumet (IV, 3, 1), répète la chapelle où se tenait Lahorie au fond du jardin des Feuillantines. Voir Le Droit et la Loi (Actes et Paroles I, Avant l'exil au volume Politique) : << Il habitait toujours la masure du fond du jardin […] >> et Victor Hugo raconté..., ouv. Cit., p. 138 et suiv.
This shed, as later the rear-house in the rue Plumet (IV, 3, 1), repeats the chapel where Lahorie kept himself at the bottom of the garden at the Feuillantines. See The Right and the Law (Deeds and Words I, Before Exile in the volume Political): “He lived always in the hovel at the bottom of the garden . . .” and Victor Hugo Recounted . . ., op. Cit., p. 138 and following.

And my own note on Lahorie, separately, since he keeps coming up in these notes (all of this taken from Graham Robb's bio of Hugo). Colonel Victor de Lahorie was an old friend of General Hugo, Victor Hugo's namesake, and the almost certain lover of Sophie Hugo. When the General and Sophie separated and Sophie went to live in Paris, Lahorie frequented the house. Unfortunately, Lahorie was a part of the Moreau Conspiracy (bio of Moreau, better info in French only) to assassinate Bonaparte in order to restore the republic. The Feuillantines was a former convent (ironically one used as a house of remand for adulterous wives) broken up into middle-class housing; Sophie Hugo lived there, along with the Foucher family (Victor later married their daughter, Adèle). At the bottom of the garden, in an old chapel, Sophie provided a refuge for Lahorie while the police were looking for him. The boys all knew he was there; he appears to have helped raise the children for about a year and a half, between June 1809, when Sophie set up a bed for him in the chapel, and December 1810, when the police discovered his whereabouts and arrested him. That was the last Victor saw of him, though Lahorie did manage to participate in Malet's coup attempt in 1812, possibly with Sophie's help, and thus got himself executed by firing squad. Sophie managed to stay out of trouble, even though at one point the General, who had aligned himself with Joseph Bonaparte in an attempt to salvage his career, tried to sell her out as a traitor. The family left the Feuillantines about a year later, because of rent hikes and their perpetual lack of money. In later years, in several works, Victor Hugo describes his father in the garden of the Feuillantines: this always means his godfather, Lahorie, as the General never even visited the Feuillantines.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:36 pm

A nice, plotty book, here, for the most part. Though I have to say, it's one thing to defy the authorities; it's another thing to stick an unembalmed body under the altar to rot while people have to spend twelve-hour stretches right above it, particularly in a period that subscribes to miasma theory of illness. The reason cemeteries were constructed at the edges of town, with plenty of space, and plenty of covering for the body, was for public health. Rotting bodies were considered to sicken the neighbourhood.

For me, the highlights of this book are Mère Innocente and Gribier. Mère Innocente recalls the women of earlier centuries who found their freedom within the structures of the convent. She's obviously very well studied in a way I would bet a lot of parish priests at this period were not (France was short on parish priests and many of them were lower class, so the standards for education couldn't be too high - you see some of this in The Red and the Black, the way Julien comes into the seminary better-educated than everyone else around him, and the way the seminarians themselves are described), and she isn't constrained by the social factors that would have impinged on her had she stayed in the material world - a woman of her social status would be expected to marry well, participate in society, and not waste time on intellectual pursuits that would be incredibly boring to most visitors. And she seems to subordinate herself to no one - she brags to the archibishop under the guise of confession rather than seeking his approval of her actions after the fact. Gribier, I feel sorry for, but we do get a very good look at the troubles of the working class. The man is educated, yet he cannot find suitable work that pays well enough, so he's working this crappy labouring job, because it probably has a salary, as well as taking whatever he can as a public letter writer. Seven children, because of a lack of birth control (and a lack of money for other sources of entertainment). Living in an attic, crowded into one room, and money always an issue. And he is who, with only the flaw of the seven children, you'd want to stand up as the honest worker: labours for his family, never drinks, incorruptible. But what does he get for it? Two crappy jobs, one of which might make him unfit for the other, and a tenuous grasp on survival at that. For a man who had three years of collège education (I think that's what "j'ai fait ma quatrième" means, that he did his fourth year: collège/lycée began with sixth year and counted down, and it seems a lot of students left after fourth year or third year, roughly the age of 14 or 15), which would mean he has Latin and some Greek, this is depressing as hell. It isn't even what, looking back, we'd like to consider as "working class", as he surely has too much education for it.

Though why Hugo is calling it the "Umbrella Market" where Gribier has his writer's stall, I have no idea. There's a market in the rue de Sèvres - it's called "marché de la rue de Sèvres". Searching for "marché aux Parapluies" only gets hits for Les Mis. It's not a common phrase, then, and I would guess the meaning is not a name, though it's capitalised as if it were one, but nickname Gribier has come up with, based on a reference. The market in the rue de Sèvres took place daily, but it had no market building - it was one of a few permitted to set up in the public thoroughfare. I would guess that it opens and closes - spreads out and closes up - like the opening and closing of an umbrella, with canopies over the tables to form the stalls. (The footnote on page 192 explains the legal basis of this market.)

The other interesting part is Valjean's comparison of the prison and the convent, and while I could do without so many animal references, it was nice to read the POV of someone who respected the convent, even if Hugo is saying "This is totally not me! I'm writing in character! See? In character! You read my Parenthesis before this, right?" Because if you're going to be living alongside these people, it goes better to respect them.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:39 pm

October 19, 2013

Which Treats the Manner of Entering a Convent

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/138/

How a difficulty must be resolved.
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:39 pm

October 20,2013

Fauchelevent in the Presence of a Difficulty

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/139/

In which Fauchelevent tries to make a case.
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:18 pm

October 21, 2013

Mother Innocente

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/140/

Even a prioress has ways of circumventing the rules.
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby WhoIam » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:47 am

Does anyone understand the 'more often' bit?
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby Gervais » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:31 am

This?
"No other man than you can or must enter that chamber. See to that. A fine sight it would be, to see a man enter the dead-room!"

"More often!"

"Hey?"

"More often!"

"What do you say?"

"I say more often."

"More often than what?"

"Reverend Mother, I did not say more often than what, I said more often."

"I don't understand you. Why do you say more often?"

"In order to speak like you, reverend Mother."

"But I did not say `more often.'"

At that moment, nine o'clock struck.


Think of it like "A fine sight it would be to see a man enter the room more often." It's a careless remark on Fauchelvaunt's part, I think. Since he is a man, and is entering the room, there is already a man entering the room. So instead of it being a fine sight to see any man enter it would be a fine sight to see men other than Fauchelvaunt enter. I think it's mostly Fauchelvaunt wanting his own appearance noticed every now and then, and then wanting to take it back and/or not wanting to explain it prompts the "In order to speak like you" bit, or maybe he really misheard something she's said. Possibly foreshadowing the thing with Valjean, too.
And I never realized how sassy Fauchelvaunt could come across as being. :lol:
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby WhoIam » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:46 am

That makes sense. I was really confused the first couple times I read through it, and I think I just brushed it off as translator weirdness.
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby Gervais » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:53 am

Honestly, I make (or think of making) remarks like that quite a bit, so there's that. :wink:
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:03 am

October 22, 2013

In Which Jean Valjean Has Quite the Air of Having Read Austin Castillejo

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/141/

An escape plan like no other. And who on earth is Austin Castillejo??
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:56 pm

October 23, 2013

It Is Not Necessary to be Drunk to be Immortal

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/142/

Another death serves as a hitch in the plan
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Re: 2.8 Les cimetières prennent ce qu'on . . . 17/1/11-25/1/

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:19 pm

October 24, 2013

Between Four Planks

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/142/

Buried alive!!!
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