, Cynical philosopher. This, from wikipedia, is probably the link: “Diogenes maintained that all the artificial growths of society were incompatible with happiness and that morality implies a return to the simplicity of nature.”Socinus
, anti-Trinitarian Christian reformer. His uncle, who is also considered a founder of Socinianism
, actually knew both Melancthon and Calvin, and thus a fight with Calvin could be real. Theology makes my head spin, so what I can figure out is that Socinians were probably happier people than Calvinists – it led to Unitarianism, after all. The article in the Catholic Encyclopedia
is interesting. The split in theology seems to be that Socinians are unitary, while Calvinists maintain the trinity, and Socinians don't believe in hell. Calvin has struck me as being all about hell. There appear to be some other things about aspects of god and role of Christ, but the big thing is probably the rejection of the trinity and the rejection of eternal punishment.
“in side galleries” - Hugo here paints utopian socialism as a sidetrack, something that will lead nowhere, ever, a distraction to the main path of historical analysis. Which is sad, as I like the utopian socialists. Such a philosophy requires such as strong belief in the ultimate goodness of humanity.
I think Hugo is wrong in suggesting that the lowest depths have no connection to the higher level of diggers. Some of the higher level recognise and depend on those lower depths; some of the lower depths are not immune to the actions of the higher levels. It isn't that there's a continual back and forth between the intelligentsia and the criminal classes, but there is a mutual recognition and a certain amount of reciprocation. No one in a society is in a completely isolated plane.
“Hunger and thirst are the point of departure; Satan is the point of arrival. From this cave comes Lacenaire.” Only if hunger and thirst are more metaphor than desperation. This is the trouble with discussing the criminal classes in this period: for the most part, they are potentially conterminous with the labouring classes because the labouring classes are constantly on the starvation. Lacenaire
doesn't even qualify as someone who came to theft and murder through hunger and starvation: Lacenaire had a good education, worked white-collar positions for a while, went to Paris because Paris is awesome, then joined the army, deserted, went to work for a liquor exporter for a while, then ended up joining the army again. (French wiki is quite detailed.) The man had an education and options; just because he found it more interesting to live by theft than by work doesn't mean hunger and thirst are the cave from which he sprang.Cartouche
: 18th century highwayman. Who apparently had a cartoon of his own
on French tv in 2001. The problem here is that Cartouche apparently did a bit of a Robin Hood thing, distributing some of his ill-gotten gains to the poor, and he seduced women, so he keeps turning up in crappy romance novels (and Saturday morning cartoons, and made for tv movies). Schinderhannes
: a german outlaw from the turn of the 19th century. He had a huge gang, nineteen accomplices sentenced to death at the same time he was. They mostly targeted Jews for robbery and extortion (and creepily, the French wiki chooses right after that sentence to add that he was a sort of local Robin Hood). But like Robin Hood as characterised in TH White's The Sword in the Stone, he was committing thefts under the nose of an occupying power (for White, Robin Hood and his men were anglo-saxon partisans stealing from the occupying Normans – Schinderhannes was active during the French occupation of the Rhine). The link here is that both of these brigands are looked up to in the somewhat the same way as the worst excesses of the Revolution, but the Revolution always meant something, while these guys were just trying to get rich dishonestly.
“is the ruin of all things. . . . Including the upper mines, which it execrates.” Oh, look, they're connected after all, aren't they? And I don't like the inclusion of prostitution in this list of crimes after it's already been proved in this novel that prostitution is the recourse of the poorest and most screwed. Prostitution implies providing sex for money, because that is the crime that gets prosecuted, not the paying of money for sex, which is the crime from the perspective of financially ruined woman.
“Destroy the cave Ignorance, and destroy the mole Crime.” *facepalm* Victor, let me introduce you to Bernie Madoff. Yes, I get your point, but your point is wrong. It was wrong then, too; I just don't have a good example to point to, but one must have existed. If you mean a wider definition of “ignorance” to include moral as well as factual knowledge, you're no longer class-based. And your arguments are class-based – you don't cite Nero; you cite thieves from the working class. I, sadly, have a hierarchy of Bernie Madoff, Hosni Mubarak, and Muammar Qaddafi: there must be kings and emperors you could cite if you indeed want to keep class out of it. But you don't. For you, the lowest depths are the lowest social classes, not the lowest specimens of humanity. And thus your idea of Ignorance that can be remedied is probably that lack of education: if only they knew better. My depressing hierarchy of theft and contempt certainly knows better. You even stated it yourself earlier in this chapter. It's the focus on self that defines the lowest depths, and that is the real creator of crime. Not ignorance as one of the problems of the lower classes.
Now we get fun stuff!
Marshal Brune was commander of the Army of the Var during the Hundred Days, thus the Avignon reference.
Babet's expression in French is “entreprendre Paris”: to embark upon, to tackle, with of course the link to “enterprise”. I think it's awesome that he ran a freak show for a while.
Claquesous is way over the top, being not a bandit at all but a sort of ur-bandit, the personification of crime. Everyone else is; Claquesous represents. It's actually kind of out of place, this image of how the bourgeoisie sees crime, stuck in among descriptions of people who could exist.
And then we have Parnasse. (which I put a star next to at some point in my adolescence.) If he had left a string of bodies in his wake, Paris would have had a much higher murder rate, one would think. And this is interesting: Louis Chevalier says, “fair hair predominates in the Paris underworld. A character must be a really sinister criminal for Eugène Sue to give him brown hair and red cheeks, to Sue – but also to the contemporary criminologists – signs of genuinely deep-seated viciousness.” So Parnasse, having black
hair, must be a demon from hell. If Hugo follows the criminologists of the day. Also, Parnasse has a “redingote”, a frock coat, because he is so up-to-the 1829 moment! Even though it's probably 1831. Because he keeps getting blood on the ones he'd really like to steal off dandies' backs, so he's had to wear this one for two years and that's why it's threadbare? Also, “charmer of the shadows” is not quite correct. The french is “ce mirliflore du sépulcre”: charmer is right (though that link with flowers is a really nice image), but sépulcre is the same in French and English, with no other definition. “Charmer of the tomb.”
: In the Odyssey, Menelaus tells of capturing Proteus, the original sea-god, in order to force him to tell which of the gods Menelaus had offended. Proteus changes forms (including those enumerated in quotes by Hugo here), but Menelaus keeps hold of him. Proteus answers truthfully and then also tells him of the current fate of several of the other Greek leaders who had survived the Trojan war.
Coco Lacour: Vidocq's successor at the Sûreté, plucked out of prison by Vidocq himself.
I'm sorry, really, Victor? These guys' version of organised crime was to control all muggings in the entire department of the Seine? Paris and the suburbs? Muggings? (ok, “ambushes”, which includes hold ups, but the whole thing just seems – petty. Yes, muggings are awful, particularly when they are pervasive, and they, along with burglary contribute to the general perception of crime, but they're really penny-ante stuff.) I feel like they are precursors to the people who swipe iPhones on the Metro and screw up bank robberies. To keep that many men together, there has to be a benefit. Mugging is so easily every man for himself. Four men are not going to be in charge of all the hold-ups in Paris. Organized crime requires a big payoff for consistent jobs that require lots of cooperation. The “ambush business” does not sound like it qualifies. Add up all the names listed, and you've got a bigger organization than Schinderhannes, who was seemingly working over a larger geographic area and hitting up carriages. But these guys seem to do as much mugging as stagecoach robbery, since Hugo warns about meeting them alone in the middle of the night and them scenting out that you're carrying something of value. Lacenaire did burglaries with false keys, which requires a certain amount of preparation and a probably larger payoff for each job. I suspect I'm hitting rather too high in trying to set up housebreakings.
I've got to quote Chevalier on Patron-Minette because it's really kind of amusing in parts and absolutely fascinating (the last section I quote gets at some of my issues that I don't even think are necessarily derived from Chevalier). These are all from Louis Chevalier, Laboring Classes and Dangerous Classes in Paris during the First Half of the Nineteenth Century
, trans. Frank Jellinek, Princeton University Press, 1973.
“The survival of these old forms, of what Hugo had learned from others, from books and especially from Vidocq's memoirs, probably accounts for the astonishing contrast between the authenticity of the crime Hugo did not intend to describe and the artificiality of the crime he did mean to describe, embodied in Babet, Gueulemer, Claquesous, and Montparnasse. In all the crime literature of the July Monarchy, even the clumsiest and most melodramatic, it would be hard to find bandits less convincing and less impressive than this quartet who, Hugo claims, “governed the lower depths of Paris from 1830 to 1835.” A most improbable government. It is hardly possible to take these small fry seriously and to believe that “owing to their ramifications and the subjacent network of their relations they had the general direction of all the villainies in the department of the Seine.” The horro with which Hugo invested them does not impress us, though he added details and corrections, which are to be found on the original manuscript of Les Misérables. He first wrote of Montparansse: “at the age of nineteen the had several corpses behind him.” This he corrected to: “at the age of eighteen he had several corpses behind him,” and added: “More than one wayfarer lay in the shadow of this villain, with outstretched arms, his face in a pool of blood.” They are small fry as villains, expressing only, and badly at that, their own criminality or a form of criminality abundantly illustrated in Vidocq's memoirs. Indeed, Hugo tried to give an additional turn on the screw by referring to Vidocq and bringing him in in person: “These four bandits formed a sort of Proteus, winding through the ranks of the police and striving to escape Vidocq's uncanny penetration under cover of various disguises.
“Admittedly, these survivals of a former or immediately prior criminality are a small matter compared with the description of the criminality which germinated in the Preface to Le dernier jour d'un condamné and came to full fruition here. But simply to note this as a fact is not wholly satisfactory. The most important pieces of evidence are not, on the whole, those which Hugo meant to put forward or thought he had. An antiquarian view of social matters is of no more help than an academic view of crime.” (p. 92-93)
“The strictly criminal groups were those who dwelt in the lower depths, the bas-fonds, the troisième-dessous, “the great cavern of Evil” to which Hugo devoted the book in Les Misérables entitled “Patron-minette”. The anachronisms, the clumsiness, the bogus antiquarianism, the highly improbable details in the evocation of the criminal groups, all contrast strongly with the authenticity and beauty of the description of the diffused criminality that pervades the paragraphs and chapter devoted to the lower classes. We can interpret this contrast as yet another proof of the transformation of a picturesque criminality, of which Hugo knew very little – and that only from books – into a social criminality, which he knew well but only in exactly the same way as any of his contemporaries, since it was one of the most obvious aspects of contemporary city life in Paris.
“The description of criminal groups appears lifelike or at any rate conveys horror only when it deals with masses or crowds, that is to say, when it compounds men with things, and when it uses the procedures who efficacy we noted when investigating the description of things by way of an approach to the description of men. . . . As soon as the description attempts to individualize any particular character, it loses both efficacy and probability. Note the contrast between the great criminals of Balzac, who are formidable and really horrible, and Hugo's petty loafers of the outer boulevards, who criminal enterprises are always paltry exploits; they can easily be gulled by an urchin like Gavroche.
“The more lifelike and historically important the descriptions of the criminal districts, because they were significant of a criminality that surpassed their bounds, the harder it was for the description of the criminal groups to do what it set out to do. It is upon the districts that the city's criminality as a whole and the social problem as a whole lave their mark, whereas the bandits do not even succeed in conveying to us their criminality as such and the specific problem they constitute.” (p. 111-112)
Chevalier also characterises bringing in Lacenaire as an act of desperation, and a poor one at that. Using the very famous thief and murder to lend credibility to his creation of Patron-Minette, Hugo has selected a representative of the older, exception, picturesque crime, when throughout Les Misérables, Hugo is asserting a basic theme of diffuse collective and social criminality. (p. 115)
the many details supplementing the description of crime add little to the evocation of horror in the first draft. One good example is Part III, Book VII, entitled “Patron-Minette”. The whole of this book comes from the second draft. It was written straight off, with very few erasures. There are a few additional details, such as we noted in the portrait of Montparnasse; and the sentences about Vidocq and Lacenaire are also inserted. In fact, the description of Patron-Minette is merely a reflection, dragged in as an afterthought at the second stage in the composition of Les Misérables, on a form of criminality of which we and Hugo himself had become aware as early as the first state of the manuscript. By heightening the criminal element and complicating it with examples which entail real inconsistencies within the description, Hugo dissociated crime from poverty. So far as the historian is concerned, he toned down his original testimony, the affirmation of social deterioration presented – though involuntarily – in the first manuscript draft and in what remains of it in the final text. And he toned it down precisely because he was now describing, after the event and from the outside, facts which he had previously merely experienced passively and expressed immediately. The problem of the relationship between poverty and crime, which he had simply sensed and experienced in the first improvisation, was now posed, defined, and supported by documents taken from the contemporary literature, a social literature which itself adduced its evidence – and most incomplete evidence at that – very tardily concerning the social developments it nevertheless purported to describe and explain.” (p. 123-4)