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Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:12 am
by MmeBahorel
First half of this book - I'll catch up with the remaining chapters over the next couple of days.

Chapter 1
We're back to “See Marius angst. Angst, Marius, angst.” I do love Grantaire's single line here, and the gorgeous mental picture – you can feel a sadness and desolation in his words. Or at least I can, probably because I've hung too much on unrequited E/R. It could be read as a quip, but the fact that he mutters it is what gives me the depressing picture instead. He isn't showing off here, just confused and disappointed himself.

Chapter 2
I had some good taste at 16, apparently, as I marked out M'ame Bougon's “What's cheap right now?” muttering. Hugo's rather snarky comment right before it, though, is awesome.

I'm a little creeped out by Marius' thought about children, which has to be a thought of Hugo's. Death cannot be redeemed, but cannot evil lives be turned around if it is merely poverty that makes them so? Don't share that thought with your friends, Marius. It'll be worse than that Bonaparte thing, I suspect, as I think this is the evolution of Hugo's thought, from what Marius says here to his more revolutionary sentiments of the thread of the novel.

“Six months of love and happiness under the trees of the Luxembourg.” SIX MONTHS? Where in the hell are six months coming from? Marius' delusions? Is he counting his months of delicious angst at not seeing Cosette?

Chapter 3
The phrase at the end is “une voix de vieux homme enroué d'eau-de-vie et de rogome.” The voice of an old man hoarse with brandy and booze. “Rogomme” is a “popular” term for “eau-de-vie ou autre liqueur forte”.

Chapter 4
Yeah, Éponine is definitely coming on to him, very awkwardly, and in a manner that makes a reading of her father's “my daughter is at your disposal” plausible.

Chapter 5
I just find it interesting that the French for “peephole” is “judas”. A security measure that can be construed as slighty naughty in English is, in French, named for the greatest betrayal ever.

“Le désespoir est entouré de cloison fragile qui donnent toutes sur le vice ou sur le crime.” Despair is surrounded by fragile walls which all open onto vice or crime. This, again, is very much Hugo's point in the novel, that only fragile walls separate the working from the dangerous classes. (But then we spend all this time with the Thénardiers, and we just had a whole chapter describing Patron-Minette as pure evil. Éponine is a victim; Parnasse is not. Why? Is it because Parnasse never tried to work honestly? We never see Éponine make the attempt. We see how incredibly difficult it is to work honestly in a future chapter, but we don't see her actually try. Thenardier himself we see sort of trying – he at least has a legitimate business when we meet him in Montfermeil. But he is pretty much pure evil, born to it rather than pushed into it like Valjean. So what we have here is a beautiful statement of the difficulty of keeping a family through honest labour, in the middle of a condemnation of those eschew the attempt. So what is Hugo doing here? This appears to be related to his use of the word 'misérable'.)

But at least Marius finally has a clue knocked into his bourgeois head. Though would an ordinary charitable man be living in a room in the Gorbeau house? Marius didn't cause any prolongation of misery; anyone else only able to pay the meagre rent Marius pays would have been able to do nothing for his neighbours. It's sort of another excuse for Marius to angst. And he proves, again, that he's better at stalking than at speaking to people. Instead of going next door to meet his neighbours, he decides to spy on them through the hole in the wall. Well done, Marius.

“d'ailleurs il y a un point où les infortunés et les infâmes se mêlent et se confondent dans un seul mot, mot fatal, les misérables; de qui est-ce la faute ?” Besides, there is a point when the unfortunate and the infamous are asociated and confused in a word, a fatal word, les misérables; whose fault is it?

To quote again, extensively, from Chevalier (p. 95-98):
“The major example of this [shedding of depreciatory impliciations] is the word 'misérables', which carries on the development we have already noted throughout the writing of the book and completesit in expressing fully and simply that complex relationship between the laboring classes and the dangerous classes which poses one of the most important problems in the social history of Paris, just as those problems are the real subject of the novel. At the final stage in this development, the word 'misérables' did not even denote, as at earlier periods, one or another of the social categories distinguished as sharply as at the Last Judgment or in Littré's definitions – the criminal on the one hand, the unfortunate on the other. It was to apply more and more often and more and more entirely to those who were simultaneously, or at any rate to some degree, both unfortunate and criminal; to those on the uncertain and continually changing borderline between poverty and crime. T was no longer to denote two different conditions but the passage from one to the other, the social deterioration we are discussing: an intermediary and fluctuating situation rather than a status. It is the internal development of a word which, though itself remaining unchanged, reflects a development of the facts and of opinion concerning them as precisely as any detailed description of the phenomenon itself. The development has its difficulties, however, because of an inherent contradiction: whereas the author was more and more sharply aware of a social development for which he had to use the traditional and necessary terminology, that terminology became steadily more and more inappropriate owing to the older usage. . . .

“It is clear that in works before, or even after, 1848, Hugo did not habitually use the word 'misérables' in the sense which hew as nevertheless beginning to give it. The chapters dating from this first period enable the historian to experience the condition of the misérables far more precisely than Hugo himself supposed; indeed, the more precisely and usefully in that such was not his intention. There is a very great contrast between the importance of the evidence concerning the condition of the 'misérables' and the continuing ambiguity of a word by which Hugo had not yet succeeded in denoting a condition he had nevertheless already described. The 'misérables' were still criminal more often than unfortunate.”

Chevalier goes on to note the Thénardiers as showing a stress more on crime than on poverty, while the original title, Les Misères, at the time, “seemed to denote misfortune at least as much, if not more, than crime and the content of the word 'misérables' still seemed to be criminal only.”

He then goes on to describe Hugo's use of the word 'misère' in the Legislative Assembly in 1849, in particular a debate on 9 July of that year, a debate on whether or not 'misère' can be eradicated. “It was a curious and important sitting because of its testimony to the lag between the development of the facts and the general awareness of them, on the one hand, and the development of the words, on the other; because of the experience it provided of the way in which new and peremptory facts had to be cast in the mold of old words an how hard it was to do this; and because the facts, dominating and finally annexing the words, ultimately won out, as my be seen in Hugo's reply, a final improvisation in which the word 'misérables' takes on its full meaning: 'suffering cannot disappear; 'la misère' must disappear. There will always be some unfortunates, but it is possible that there may not always be 'misérables'.' Here the official record noted: 'Hear, hear! On the left. Ironical laughter elsewhere in the House.'

“The fact takes possession of the word and, conversely, the existence of the word makes for total awareness of the fact summed up and illustrated by it. 'Les Misérables' was henceforth the title of the work which Hugo announced in 1854 as forthcoming. But the word was still used to denote the criminal classes in the chapters drafted in 1860 and after: 'More than one wayfarer lay in the shadow of this villain [misérable] . . . ,' Hugo wrote of the bandit Montparnasse. But the term was increasingly used for the laboring and unfortunate classes, and when it happened to denote the dangerous classses, it was used to stress their pitiable rather than their formidable aspects.” Valjean himself will be called a “misérable” in the scene where he and Cosette observe the chain gang.

“Thus, the development in the word, Hugo's lng hesitation about its predominating significance, and his inability to explain clearly what he meant by 'misère' and 'misérable' when he had already written much of his novel, all stress the fact that the problem is not to seek out and classify the various aspects of crime in the novel, but to see how a social development external to the book and its author's creative effort finally imprinted itself on the work, so much so that it changed the meaning of the words.”

I quote this here because here is where you can really see a troubled definition. It is distinctly linked to criminality here in a way that is more diffuse for the title of the novel as a whole.

Chapter 6
While Marius stalking is convenient for the writer, Hugo's been writing in an omniscient third person, so he doesn't actually need Marius looking on in order to have an excuse to describe the Thénardier lair. He needs Marius to spy later for plot purposes, but did he realise how much of a dick Marius can come across as right now? Berates himself for doing nothing for all these years (years that seem over a year longer than they actually were), so what does he do now? Spies on them. Yeah, this'll get you into heaven. *facepalm*

Chapter 7
I probably shouldn't laugh so hard at “Silence! I'm suppressing the freedom of the press”, but it's just funny to hear a political joke coming from Thénardier. (it's also a cut at every single regime Hugo really remembers – press freedoms were constantly being suppressed.) It's a real joke, as opposed to his vaguely nihilist bitter smash everything rant.

Chapter 8
The chapter title “Le Rayon dans le bouge” brings to mind the phrase from the poem on the barricade, “j'ai vu un astre au fond du grenier” (minus the whole taking off stockings part, of course). Of course, now Marius can forget everything because he just saw Cosette again.

Chapter 9
the imagery of the first line – that the bourgeois have to squint and strain to look into the darkness – is rather nice.

Pupil of Talma (conveniently dead), “friend” of Mlle Mars (I wonder how she liked this shout-out – she was well known for the role of Célimène in The Misanthrope and Elmire in Tartuffe, but she's mentioned here because she originated the role of Doña Sol in Hernani). Belisarius is a Roman general to whom is attached a legend that he, for offending the emperor Justinian, had his eyes put out and was forced to beg for alms.

Chapter 10
Ok, I've been too hard on Marius. He doesn't bother to put on a tie when he's just hanging out in his room, so I suppose he can't have a stick *that* far up his ass.

The “tune of La Palisse” that the cab driver was whistling is la Chanson de La Palisse. It's a deliberate cut at Marius.

How does Courfeyrac know what Panchaud/Printanier/Bigrenaille looks like? This is kind of random, isn't it, since Panchaud has yet to become hugely famous? Surely at this point he's just a name in the neighbourhood. So how does Courfeyrac? (Yeah, I may need to work that into Corner of the Sky, because I'm crazy like that.)

Chapter 11
What Fahnestock-MacAfee render as “talk softly to me” is “tutoyez-moi” - “talk sweetly to me” might have been better, or “be friendly with me”.

It's a good thing Thénardier is busy – I doubt Marius is all that silent jumping onto the bureau in his anxiety to hear anything about M. Leblanc.

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:25 pm
by Ulkis
I'm a little creeped out by Marius' thought about children, which has to be a thought of Hugo's. Death cannot be redeemed, but cannot evil lives be turned around if it is merely poverty that makes them so?

That line didn't bother me, although I agree in general, but recently I heard of a documentary about a man who killed his sibling and then was going to try to kill his parents so he got all the family money, and the parents still visited him in prison. Obviously that's a lot more extreme than thieving, but it was in the back of my mind when I read that line.

Éponine is a victim; Parnasse is not. Why? Is it because Parnasse never tried to work honestly? We never see Éponine make the attempt. We see how incredibly difficult it is to work honestly in a future chapter, but we don't see her actually try.

Well, of course there's the fact that Éponine is a woman, and a woman under the control of her father, at least at the moment (because we see her rebel later on). And Montparnasse is 19 and Éponine is 16. Not a big difference, but a big enough difference in this moment of thier lives that it's enough that if Éponine had made it to 19 she might have tried to find some honest work before then. And there is that Montparnasse apparently has some murders under his belt too.

And he proves, again, that he's better at stalking than at speaking to people. Instead of going next door to meet his neighbours, he decides to spy on them through the hole in the wall. Well done, Marius.

Heh, I didn't think of that. Well, he is established as horribly shy so I can get why he did that, plus I think maybe Éponine gave him a fright. Plus if he went and talked to them Thenardier would have just fleeced him for whatever else he had.

How does Courfeyrac know what Panchaud/Printanier/Bigrenaille looks like?

Despard asked in another thread, what attracts Marius and Courfeyrac as friends, and I said that Courfeyrac just seems like a really social nice guy who is friends with everyone. Let me exapand this to, Courfeyrac is friends with everyone, even professional robbers and murderers. :)

What Fahnestock-MacAfee render as “talk softly to me” is “tutoyez-moi” - “talk sweetly to me” might have been better, or “be friendly with me”.

Denny has "Yes, that's it, talk nicely to me."

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:51 pm
by MmeBahorel
Chapter 12
Oh, Mme T, “She was hideous, this one isn't bad – she can't be the one”. Well, your daughters didn't used to be cadaverous. Amazing what happens when you actually feed a person, isn't it?

Marius, take particular attention of that “look that means 'Has he gone crazy?'”. You'll see it often from Cosette, I'm sure. You just don't notice it from Courfeyrac. I'm also giggling over Marius hearing himself called an idiot.

Chapter 13
Uhm, Marius, you should have changed your shirt when you changed your coat and put on a tie. Your presentable coat is all well and good, but your shirt is still ripped.

The Gaîté was one of the second rank of Parisian theatres, not a particularly working class theatre like the Funambules or others on the same street. Cheap seats at the Gaîté would run about 10 sous mid-century, more than twice the cheap seats at the Funambules.

And it's ok, Marius, Valjean is going to pwn everyone with or without your help.

Chapter 14
I love Javert. Fashion: his coat is a “carrick”, which is what you expect a coachman to wear, really, with the multiple capes. Carrick is also the French for the light carriage called a curricle in English.

Translations keep jumping around. Marius, in the previous chapter, asked where he could find a “commissaire de police”. The CP is the full-time municipal police force, hired and fired by the Minister of the Interior. Anyone below him is generally ill-paid, often does not serve full time, and can be hired by the mayor, while the CP answers to the Minister of the Interior and bypasses the municipal political authorities entirely. Big cities get lots of them; Paris the most, obviously. Marius is looking for the CP in charge of his geographical precinct.

I feel like there ought to be a “dun-dun-DUN” in the underscore when Javert gives his name at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 15
Does Prouvaire have anything to do with what Courfeyrac considers the attire of a poet?

Rabbit-skin processing continued as a major trade in France for ages – I found a reference to the processors in Limoges going on strike in 1905. (Yes, this is a random comment.)

Is Marius really so lucky not to be seen but to sort of notice the men hiding, or is he noticed as much as he noticed them and assumed to be one of the girls? And did Mme Burgon notice anything?

Chapter 16
How long have the Thenardiers been living there, and did they never manage a light before? Or did the hole fall in semi-recently? I can't stop thinking how Marius could not have noticed a hole in the wall before today. Particularly since light comes through.

What does Thenardier mean, “We'll eat like Charles X”? At this point, Charles X is in exile. Why the previous monarch rather than the reigning one? Is it because Charles no longer has to work for his allowance from the Austrians, while Louis Philippe does have to work for his allowance from the French? Hugo can't be confusing his dates when the year is in the chapter title.

Éponine fixing her hair in Marius' mirror – and then goes off to sleep with Parnasse.

Chapter 17
How lucky for Thenardier that Marius has two chairs. He might have had to make do with only since he stupidly broke his.

Lock picking tools are very small and narrow – hardly to be confused with blacksmith's tools. The others, ok, but I'd think lockpicks are practically unnoticeable compared to crowbars and such. (also, these guys have the patience to pick locks?)

And Marius, Javert calls you a dolt for a reason. Dead silence is the worst time to make any tiny noise, and surely if you were thinking, you would have realised you cannot cock a pistol silently. I say if you were thinking, since despite your excuse to your grandfather about hunting, I don't think you've ever had a gun in hand before. If you had, you'd know you should wait at least until someone says something, so that there is a distraction, if not a complete cover, from whatever tiny noise you make.

Chapter 18
Even as Marius is doing something good for other people, he's really most hopeful that he can find out something about the girl. Because then he'd be her particular hero and have a really awesome excuse for an introduction at which he'd manage to say nothing because he's Marius?

Chapter 19
While the fourteen hours for four sous profit seems excessive, the process and the fact that material costs will eat up a great deal of money is absolutely one of the problems of manufacturing in this period. Much of it was done in this fashion, by men and women working at home and delivering their work to a contractor, who would deduct materials costs from the payout. I dispute the four sous, not the hours required to earn anything. Artificial flowers were manufactured in the same manner, through homework for piece rates, and in 1858, a woman could expect to make 420 francs a year with a lay-off of four or five months. A seamstress could expect to earn one to two francs a day. So while I think Hugo (and thus Thenardier) is describing the correct process and the long hours to earn not quite a living at making cardboard boxes, the “not quite a living” part is significantly off. Still, I think it's really a very useful passage for describing just what “honest labour” means in reality as opposed to the way the bourgeois probably think of it.

Chapter 20
Marius, think. Do you really think your father, a man of honour and deep respect for authority, would really want anything to do with Thenardier as he is? Isn't the best honour for your father to stop Thenardier, testify on his behalf at trial in hopes of mitigating his sentence (since after all, he will not have succeeded in his plan and therefore could merit less than the scaffold), and then do what you can for his children? I don't know your father, either, but I cannot believe he would think the right thing to do here was anything but to continue with the plan. Particularly since he has no loyalty and owes nothing to the other seven bastards who ought to go to jail.

At what point would Thenardier ever have been a voter? The minimum under the Restoration was a payment of 300 francs in taxes. Under the Directory, the property qualification was minimal (you had to pay taxes, period). Could he be talking about the brief period of universal male suffrage under the Revolution, as that doesn't show him as anything particularly special? The system under the Empire was really damned confusing so far as I can tell – did it follow the pseudo-suffrage of the Consulate, wherein all adult males had the right to vote for their representatives in the electoral college, but actual selection of deputies and senators was conducted by that electoral college, composed of electors chosen for life? (this was returned to during the Hundred Days, so I suppose yes?) But would he be citing himself as an elector, having only had the privilege during the periods of technically universal suffrage? He's ranting here like he means it, rather than in order to play Valjean, so how much of a lie or stretching of the truth is really going on here? He is a citizen, while Valjean is not – Valjean lost his citizenship upon his life sentence, which conferred civil death. That much is true. And as a citizen under various regimes during his life, he had the right to vote, whether or not that vote meant anything. But to single out that “I was an elector”, in a period where there was a high property qualification for voting, is to give the deliberate implication of having at one time reached that qualification. As if Thenardier paid anything but the patente on the inn in his life (I seriously doubt the man paid taxes if he could get away with it).

Why does Claquesous have a big key? It seems absolutely random as a weapon.

In not naming Cosette, Thenardier is probably also keeping control of his wife, who would go nuts if her name were spoken aloud. I'd say it's less to keep his endgame to himself and more to keep control of the situation in general.

Yes, Marius, wait for Cosette to show up before being a big damn hero. How many times tonight should you have fired your weapon? *headdesk* Thank god Javert knows you're a moron, not to be trusted to signal anything.

Valjean with the chisel is decidedly creepy and also badass. To act irrationally is one of the better ways to get men to back off – they anticipate rational behaviour, so if you are willing to injure yourself for no reason, god only knows what you'll do to them. They have to recalculate. So in that sense, it's a good move, but it's also creepy as anything.

Chapter 21
At least the bandits are also stupid. I don't blame them for not trusting Thenardier an inch, especially in this economy (I love how Babet is justifying the size of the force through demand imperatives), but other than throwing him out of the way so they can slip out first, there should have been no argument. Then Bigrenaille has to be an idiot. The reason Javert says the gun will misfire is because you've been getting it all sweaty, hidden where you had it, therefore it's too damp to go off properly. He knows this because of where you pulled it out of.

The “bunch of provincials” in Fahnestock/MacAfee is “auvergnats” in French. It was in cabarets run by auvergnat migrants in Paris that the cancan was developed. We're talking very particular provincials, known in this period for their patois, their cabarets, their raucous dances.

Javert, you of all people should know by now not to delay gratification with Valjean. The man would have jumped out of the window even if there hadn't been a rope ladder.

Chapter 22
Gav, commenting on the sexual attractiveness of Mme Burgon, is hilarious. Also, I can't decide if it's good or bad writing that Hugo has Gav stop with “corbeaux” right when he arrives at the Gorbeau house. The parallel there, I mean.

So what is with Mme Burgon? Did she notice anything going on before she left for work? She was away when everyone got arrested, and Javert is probably the one who informed her what happened to her tenants, but I still have my suspicions that she at least knows to look the other way with people coming into that house.

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:20 pm
by Col.Despard
Yah - not exactly Marius' shining moment, but a great one for Javert! I think this came up in another discussion on Javert...this is when we get to see Javert being competantly on the job rather than just primarily Valjean's pursuer, and he's shown as an extremely competant official of the law.

Does Prouvaire have anything to do with what Courfeyrac considers the attire of a poet?

I was wondering this in another thread as well - there is another point where the attire of poets is a concern of Courfeyrac's, when he's talking to Bossuet:

"He?" retorted Courfeyrac, "he's a poet. Poets are very fond of wearing the trousers of dealers in rabbit skins and the overcoats of peers of France."

I imagine Courfeyrac did have very definite ideas on everybody's wardrobe...and given his friendship with Prouvaire, Jehan is a candidate for this kind of...eclectic juxtaposition of attire.

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 2:11 am
by Swamp Adder
Okay, this has always confused me. Valjean goes to all the trouble of giving Thénardier a false address to gain time, getting out this specially-made sou, cutting his bonds when no one is looking, grabbing the poker... and then he just wounds himself with it, tosses it away and surrenders immediately. What was the point of doing all that if he wasn't going to at least try to escape? Especially since the only result is to provoke Thénardier into killing him sooner?

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:16 am
by MmeBahorel
The best defense when completely overpowered is to be batshit crazy, unpredictably so. Valjean obviously keeps his sou on him at all times, and thus was prepared when Thenardier's men grabbed him. He can't completely escape at the moment, really - if he turns his back on any of them, as he'd have to do if he used the chisel as a weapon, the rest will come for him. He cannot get his leg loose without giving them time to come to their senses and grab him. And at this point, the rope ladder is not yet in place. He'd have to take his chances, threatening with the chisel, cutting his leg free, then dropping to the ground out the window without breaking his leg. He can't quite get out.

So, since he can't get out, he can take away their means of torturing him. His best chance is for them to give up. And the crazier he is, the more time he can keep them on their toes without them giving up and killing him. So his actions do multiple things: they keep the gang off balance, unable to predict what Valjean might do; they take away the possibility of torture to get him to do anything; they prove Valjean is more badass than the gang; and they may give him additional time to come up with a way to get out. It's entirely plausible that in whatever scuffle he can create, he can get his leg out, and thus have the necessary movement and distraction. But he's perfectly willing to die here to keep Cosette safe, if necessary, and he agreed to that when he sent the fake letter. And he may be doing it to hasten the end, though I think he recognises Thenardier really doesn't want to kill the goose who may, in future, lay more golden eggs. It's the second time Thenardier has come back for more from him; it's really Mme T who wants him dead.

It may also be that if he's crazy enough - or perhaps I should say overtly single-minded enough to burn himself to prove torture will do nothing - he may think it is less likely that they will attempt to go looking for Cosette after he's gone if they do end up killing him. Marius interferes - we don't know if Thenardier really will go through with slitting Valjean's throat, as that will mean no payday ever. And then Javert gives Valjean the distraction he needs to safely escape through the window so kindly prepared by the bandits. I think it's actually more telling that they have the rope ladder ready - they think they'll need to make a quick getaway through the window. They plan on the possibility of cops in force, but they've got nothing there that says they plan on the possibility of a body. Do they plan on abandoning the apartment with the body inside if it comes to a corpse? Was Hugo not thinking about what would be needed to move a body? And are we supposed to believe that this particular sort of crime happens frequently enough in Paris so that there's a gang that maintains a monopoly over it, selecting workmen based on the state of the criminal economy?

I have bigger questions than why is Valjean deliberately acting like a lunatic. Valjean's actions strike me as more plausible than the rest of the set up. Why isn't the house watched on that side, when Javert knows the building and Mme T thinks it's plausible that it could be watched on that side? Javert is not sloppy when it comes to the execution of this plan, until he tries to toy with Valjean and ends up losing him. Because the house isn't watched on that side. Did he take men from that side with him to make his arrests? Not predicting the rope ladder may be reasonable, so is there something about that side that makes jumping for it a really bad idea? (I mean, a worse idea than jumping from a second-floor window would ordinarily be - with care, one should be able to drop without breaking anything; the snow should help.)

It probably all falls under the category of "Don't get advice from action movies", or the early 19th century equivalent. Hugo here probably cared more about shiny than strictly plausible.

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:44 am
by between4walls
This is a little late, but when I read this chapter I thought Valjean burning his hand was a reference to the story of Gaius Mucius Scaevola. Here's a link to Livy's version.
Basically, Mucius is supposed to assassinate an enemy king, but he fails and when captured, hints that he's part of a larger plot. The king threatens to torture him if he doesn't reveal the plot, so he puts his hand in the fire to show that torture can't break him (this has the more practical effect of convincing the king not to torture him). Livy says, "Here, alone and helpless, in utmost peril, he was still able to inspire more fear than he felt," which sounds like what Valjean does, and since we know he's literate, he could plausibly have heard of this story.
At any rate, I think Hugo is definitely referencing it.

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:49 am
by Ulkis
Cool. That's an interesting story, I've never heard of it. I definitely wouldn't be surprised if it had some sort of influence on Hugo.

(And please, bring whatever you want in any thread in the read through whenever you want. Everyone's free to follow at their own pace.)

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:43 am
by MmeBahorel
Thank you! That story is very familiar (like I'd come across it in the footnotes before, not like I've read any classics at all) and it was probably in Hugo's mind when inventing this scenario.

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:03 am
by Aurelia Combeferre
December 21, 2013

Marius, while seeking a Girl in a Bonnet encounters a Man in a Cap

On wanderings and possible lookalikes.

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:10 am
by Aurelia Combeferre
December 21, 2013

Treasure Trove

Marius meets two waifs on the road, and what does he find?

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:39 am
by Aurelia Combeferre
December 23, 2013


Four names in a single hand

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:57 am
by Aurelia Combeferre
December 24, 2013

A Rose In Misery

Fifteen years mingled to fifty, vivacity turned to boldness....

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:15 am
by Aurelia Combeferre
December 25,2013

A Providential Peephole

Marius muses on horrifying misery...(and the book title is dropped!)

Re: 3.8 Le mauvais pauvre/The Bad Pauper 21/3/11 - 11/4/11

Posted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:48 am
by Aurelia Combeferre
December 26, 2013

The Wild Man In His Lair

View into a hovel