4.3 La maison de la rue Plumet 22/4/11-29/4/11

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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4.3 La maison de la rue Plumet 22/4/11-29/4/11

Postby Charlette-Ollie » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:24 pm

Volume 4: The Idyll of the Rue Plumet and the Epic of the Rue Saint-Denis, book 3: La maison de la rue Plumet/The House in the Rue Plumet

Chapters:

1. La maison à secret/The secret house
2. Jean Valjean garde national/Jean Valjean a National Guard
3. Foliis ac frondibus
4. Changement de grille/Change of grating
5. La rose s'aperçoit qu'elle est une machine de guerre/The rose discovers that she is an engine of war
6. La bataille commence/The battle commences
7. À tristesse, tristesse et demie/To sadness, sadness and a half
8. La cadène/The chain

Valjean and Cosette, having left the convent, move into a house on the Rue Plumet with a servant, Toussaint. They live simple lives, generally avoiding contact with others, going for pleasant walks, giving to the poor. One day, Cosette realises that she is pretty. This inspires her to become something of a fashionista, much to Valjean's despair.

And then, young love! Cosette and Marius make eye contact in the Luxembourg. Poor Valjean sees his adopted daughter growing up, and becomes very keen to get Marius out of the picture. They stop going to the Luxembourg for a few months, thus ending the couple's days of lovingly gazing at each other from a distance. Later, Cosette and Valjean encounter a train of wagons containing convicts being sent to the galleys. The book ends with Cosette, in her sweet and innocent way, still contemplating this image.

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Re: 4.3 La maison de la rue Plumet 22/4/11-29/4/11

Postby Ulkis » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:54 am

I looked up the title of chapter three in my Dennys translation because it didn't sound familiar, and yep, he translated it to "of leaves and branches". He often annoyingly changes the Latin chapter titles. Argh, Dennys, it's in Latin for a reason! Even if that reason might have just been Hugo showing off his Latin.

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Re: 4.3 La maison de la rue Plumet 22/4/11-29/4/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:15 am

Livre 3

Chapitre 1
1 (rue Plumet): C'est rue Plumet que le général Hugo passa les derniers mois de sa vie et mourut – voir III, 3, note 15. Par ailleurs on lit dans le dossier Faits contemporains (d'où beaucoup de matériaux ont été extraits pour Les Misérables) la description et l'histoire d'une maison environnée d'un jardin, construite en 1787 par le comte d'Artois pour la Guimard, habitée ensuite par Joséphine de Beauharnais et enfin, en 1822, par le vieux général Bertrand. Son architecture aussi a beaucoup de points communs avec cette maison de Jean Valjean (texte daté 1845-1846, éd. J. Massin, t. VII, p. 959-960).
It's in rue Plumet that General Hugo passed the last months of his life and died – see III, 3, note 15. Moreover, one reads in the file Contemporary Facts (from which a great deal of material was extracted for Les Misérables) the description and history of a house surrounded by a garden, constructed in 1787 for the Count of Artois [future Charles X] for la Guimard, inhabited later by Josephine Beauharnais and finally, in 1822, by the old General Bertrand. Its architecture also has many points in common with this house belonging to Jean Valjean (text dated 1845-1846, ed. J. Massin, vol. VII, p. 959-960).

2 (one in the rue de l'Ouest, the other in the rue de l'Homme-Armé): Il y eut, pendant la Révolution, une section parisienne portant ce nom. Le beau-père de Hugo, P. Foucher en relevait (voir Souvenirs, Plon, 1929, p. 77). Ce nom n'a pas été choisi par hsard par Hugo qui avait d'abord écrit rue Planche-Mibray.
There was, during the Revolution, a section of Paris with this name. Hugo's father-in-law, P. Foucher, rebuilt it (see Souvenirs, Plon, 1929, p. 77). This name was not chosen at random by Hugo, who had at first written rue Planche-Mibray.

3 (to escape the police): La multiplication des domiciles, utile à l'action, est parallèle à celle des noms, forme de l'anonymat. D'autre part on ne peut pas ne pas voir ici une ironique allusion autobiographique : au moment où il commence Les Misérables, Hugo aussi a trois domiciles : le sien, celui de Juliette et celui de Léonie Biard, séparée de don mari. Enfin les trois adresses ont valeur symbolique autant que biographique. Le père de Hugo mourut rue Plumet ; la rue de l'Ouest, actuelle rue d'Assas, parallèle à la rue Notre-Dame-des Champs était voisine de la demeure des Hugo et de la maison d'Adèle au temps de leur jeunesse ; la rue de l'Homme-Armé – au nom éloquent – passait pour la plus misérable de Paris.
The multiplication of residences, useful to the action, is parallel to that of names, a form of anonymity. On the other hand, one cannot help but see here an ironic autobiographic allusion: at the time he began Les Misérables, Hugo also had three residences: his own, Juliette's, and Léonie Biard's, who had separated from her husband. Finally the three addresses have symbolic value as well as biographic. Hugo's father died in rue Plumet; the rue de l'Ouest, actual rue d'Assas, parallel to the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs was neighbour to the Hugo residence and to Adèle's house in her youth; the rue de l'Homme-Armé – an eloquent name – was considered the most miserable in Paris.

Chapitre 2
4 (never a fire): L'ameublement typiquement hugolien de Cosette (baldaquin, damas rouge ornèrent toutes les demeures de Hugo du palais Masserano à l'avenue d'Eylau) est complété par le let de sangle de Jean Valjean qui reprend la baraque du couvent – voir II, 8, note 16 – elle-même écho de la chapelle habitée par Lahorie au fond du jardin des Feuillantines. Hauteville-House répète cette disposition, mais en hauteur, avec le << look-out >> et la minuscule chambre à petit lit du poète.
Cosette's typically Hugolian furnishing (baldachin in red damask decorated all Hugo's residences from the Masserano palace to the avenue d'Eylau) is completed by Valjean's camp bed that returns to the convent shed – see II, 8, note 16 – itself an echo of the chapel inhabited by Lahorie at the bottom of the Feuillantines garden. Hauteville-House repeats this arrangement, but in height, with the “look out” and the tiny bedroom with the poet's little bed.

5 (because it was very far): C'est l'église la plus proche des Feuillantines et elle avait, pour Hugo, une valeur toute particulière. << Cette église […] a de grosses colonnes et des entrecolonnements assez élevés. Un des plaisirs des petits Hugo étaitde sauter de ces entrecolonnements à terre.
<< Peu de temps après leur retour, le 29 octobre 1812, mon mari se rappelle qu'[...] en jouant, ils virent une affiche collée sur l'une de ces colonnes. […] Ils lurent. C'était la condamnation des trois généraux, Malet, Lahorie et Guidal. >> (Victor Hugo raconté..., ouv. Cit., p. 245.)

This is the nearest church to the Feuillantines and it had, for Hugo, a very particular worth. “This church . . . has fat columns and somewhat raised space between the columns. One of the pleasure of the Hugo children was to jump to the ground from these intercolumnial spaces
“Not long after their return, 29 October 1812, my husband recalls that . . . while playing, they saw a poster stuck on one of the columns. . . . They read it. It was the condemnation of the three generals: Malet, Lahorie, and Guidal.” (Victor Hugo Recounted . . ., op. Cit., p. 245.)

6 (age of legal exemption): Ce détail se révélera important en V, 1, 4.
This detail will be revealed as important in V, 1, 4.

7 (Count Lobau): Hugo n'aimait guère le maréchal Mouton, comte Lobau, qui commandait la garde nationale sous Louis-Philippe. Voir déjà, dans Claude Gueux : << Il est très important de faire des lois pour que j'aille, déguisé en soldat, monter patriotiquement la garde à la porte de M. le Comte de Lobau que je ne connais pas et que je ne veux pas connaître. >>
Hugo hardly cared for Marshal Mouton, Count Lobau, who commanded the National Guard under Louis-Philippe. See previously, in Claude Gueux: “It is very important to make laws so that I might go, disguised as a soldier, to patriotically mount guard at M. the Count of Lobau's door who I don't know and who I don't want to know.”

Chapitre 3
8 (Foliis ac Frondibus): D'un vers de Lucrèce (De natura rerum, V, 971) : << […] s'enveloppant de feuilles et de branches >>. Du parc des Feuillantines que les enfants découvrirent << inculte, sauvage, […] forêt vierge >>, Hugo garda le goût des jardins livrés au désordre et aux forces de la nature. Préférance contraire à la passion de sa mère pour le jardinage et qui s'exprime dans l'ambiguïté du thème : << Un jardinier est un fossoyeur >>, a dit Fauchelevent en II, 8, 1.
From a verse by Lucretius (De Natura Rerum, V, 971): “. . . wrapping itself in leaves and branches”. From the park of the Feuillantines which the children discovered “unkempt, wild, . . . virgin forest”, Hugo kept the taste for gardens left to disorder and the forces of nature. Preference contrary to his mother's passion for gardening and that expresses itself in the ambiguity of the theme: “A gardener is a gravedigger”, said Fauchelevent in II, 8, 1.

9 (The passersby of forty years ago): En fait, soit moins, 34 ans, s'il s'agit du moment (1827-1828) où Hugo allait quotidiennement voir son père rue Plumet ; soit plus, 50 ans, s'il s'agit de l'époque (1812) où il habitait Les Feuillantines dont le jardin de la rue Plumet ressuscite les splendeurs. Mais il est vrai que Hugo retourna aux Feuillantines en 1822 pour y rencontrer Lamennais (voir I, 3, note 23).
In fact, either less, 34 years, if is meant the moment (1827-1828) when Hugo went daily to see his father in the rue Plumet, or more, 50years, if is meant the period (1812) when he lived at the Feuillantines, whose garden's splendours the rue Plumet resurrects. But is it true that Hugo returned to the Feuillantine in 1822 to meet Lamennais (see I, 3, note 23).

10 (leading to unity): Sur ce principe de l'unité du monde dont Hugo a la première intuition à Montreuil-sur-Mer, en 1837, et qu'il formule dans la lettre à sa femme (éd. J. Massin, t. V, p. 1307-1308), voir déjà I, 5, note 1.
On this principle of the unity of the world, of which Hugo had the first intuition at Montreuil-sur-Mer in 1837, and which he formulate in a letter to his wife (ed. J. Massin, vol. V, p. 1307-1309), see previously I, 5, note 1.

Chapitre 4
11 (The convent is a compression): Le mot << compression >> est souvent employé, au XIXe siècle, dans le sens technique de notre actuel << répression >>.
The word “compression” is often employed in the 19th century, in the technical sense of our present “repression”.

12 (He kissed her forehead.): La même course, le même essoufflement, et un autre baiser, sont le premier et l'unique souvenir d'amour du condamné dans Le Dernier Jour... (chap. XXXIII). Ce chapitre et les suivants sont imprégnés du souvenir de Léopoldine, mêlé à celui d'Adèle petite.
The same route, the same breathlessness, and another kiss, are the first and the sole memory of love of the condemned man in The Last Day . . . (chap. XXXIII). This chapter and the following ones are full of the memory of Léopoldine, mixed with those of little Adèle.

Chapitre 5
13 (a hat from Gérard from a hat from Herbaut): Marchands de nouveautés à la mode.
Vendors of fashionable novelties.

Chapitre 6
14 (every woman resembles Mohammad): Ne pouvant faire venir à lui une montagne, Mahomet alla, sagement, vers elle.
Unable to make the mountain come to him, Mohammad went, wisely, to it.

Chapitre 7
15 (We know the rest.): Voir tout le livre 6 de la troisième partie, La conjonction de deux étoiles.
See all of book 6 of the third part, The Conjunction of Two Stars.

Chapitre 8
16 (The Chain): Hugo avait assisté au ferrement puis au départ des forçats pour Toulon lors d'une visite à Bicêtre, le 24 octobre 1827, avec David d'Angers et décrit déjà ce spectacle dans Le Dernier Jour d'un condamné.
Hugo had attended the chaining then the departure of convicts for Toulon during a visit to Bicêtre, 24 October 1827, with David d'Angers and earlier described this sight in The Last Day of a Condemned Man.
[I'm not in love with this chapter title translation, to be honest, because I can't get the same specificity in English. “Cadène” is specifically used for the chain to which convicts are locked. (It's also, in nautical terms, the “chainplate”, where the shrouds and stays are attached to the hull, but the convict chain is the first one in dictionaries.) "The Chain Gang" is almost better, in that it is specific to the context, even if it's sort of wrong - "Chain gang" would refer to the men, while the title is just the chain.]

17 (a potpourri by Désaugiers, famous at the time, The Vestal Virgin): Cette Vestale est là par dérision ; sa première représentation date de 1807.
This Vestal Virgin is here derisively; its first presentation dates from 1807.

18 (resembles a disturbance): Les traces s'en voient chez Hugo jusque dans le projet de discours sur les prisons, préparé pour la Chambre des Pairs en mai 1847 (éd. J. Massin, t. VII, p. 119).
The traces show it at Hugo's home until the draft speech on prisons, prepared for the Chamber of Peers in May 1847 (ed. J. Massin, vol. VII, p. 119).
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 4.3 La maison de la rue Plumet 22/4/11-29/4/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:09 pm

Book 3

Chapter 1
Mansard style: including a Mansard roof, which is what late Baroque architect François Mansart was best known for. (the style came back into popularity in the Second Empire, so most examples extant are from then, as Mansart was not nearly so successful getting his designs built the way he designed them.)
Watteau style: Rococo

So we've got a Baroque exterior and rococo interior. To which Hugo will add, well, his favourites (minus the ceiling carpet, we hope).

It has to be a hard decision for Valjean to come to, knowing that if they stay, he is safe and Cosette will have a place in the world, but leaving anyway because really this place is outside the world and Cosette herself must discover her place. It's something all parents struggle with, but it's so much more acute when the stakes are so high here.

Chapter 2
Grotto turned winecellar: I laugh because grottoes are one of the dumbest garden features I can think of. They are very much relics of a particular sort of overdone classicism, which is why they turn up here – the grotto dates the house very particularly – and Hugo probably loved them because often, the statues were highly sexualised. Over-decorated and full of satyrs catching nymphs – sounds like Hugo's perfect garden element, right? :)

The wording on that whole National Guard thing is confusing – it looks at first (and second) reading that Valjean was caught up in the registration levy while living in the convent. It's his last address and thus something exchanged hands between the municipal precincts of the convent and the rue Plumet verifying that he was a resident of good moral character, in all likelihood. Here's the brief history on that reorganization: the Parisian National Guard was disbanded in 1827 (they pissed off Charles X), was re-instituted on 29 July 1830 under Lafayette, but Lafayette was removed in late December largely because he, and many members of the reconstituted Guard, were too republican for Orleanist tastes. The law to reorganise the Guard was passed on 5 March 1831 and went into effect on 22 March without Lafayette. Since members had to purchase their own arms and uniforms, membership was limited to those who could afford it, even if in theory all Frenchmen between the ages of 20 and 60 had to be registered. One of the “republican” reforms was that officers could be elected by the men.

The double life has to be particularly wearing on Valjean. He grew up a labourer, fell into the dangerous classes, made himself bourgeois, and fell back again. So now it's as if he's trying to split the difference, to assert that he is lower class while trying to raise Cosette to that higher social plane. The separate residences, the separate food, the way he dresses when he goes out alone instead of with her – and yet he plays the bourgeois to the hilt when he has to show up for active duty, this position he spends most of his days insisting he does not deserve, but which has a safety and respect that he craves.

Chapter 3
Interesting that Hugo uses the revolutionary “Floréal” as his time reference, as if the nature-loving naming is more real, so to speak, than the ordinary “Avril”, even though both are social constructs. (and I am cracking up over the date names – how did I not know before that each date had a really ridiculous name?) (also, shrub fecundity is a more sexual and poetic way of saying high pollen count.)

Chapter 4
Paphos: Mythical birthplace of Aphrodite and centre of her cult.

Lamoignon: jurist, president of the Parlement under Louix XIV
Lenôtre: landscape architect and chief gardener to Louis XV

I'm not as creeped out by Hugo's 19th century views of women's education as I might be. After all, what he is really arguing is that children shouldn't be dumped into the world and left to dark experience as their sole education – they must be prepared for it, but carefully, without inducing fear of the world. Experience tends to equate to failure and ruin, since those are the experiences we most learn from, and everyone should try to avoid that. He also has a point about the convent, that since the girls are taught faithful devotion to a being they cannot see, at an age when they cannot fully differentiate fantasy and real life and faith, they are essentially taught to believe in fantasy.

Chapter 5
Am I a bad person for thinking that either Cosette got over the acne early, or else she's in for a rude shock sometime soon now that she's noticed she's pretty? :)

Now I'm annoyed: “one of the two germs that sooner or later fill the entire life of woman, coquetry. The other is love.” ONLY BECAUSE YOU AND SOCIETY DON'T ALLOW ANYTHING ELSE! Love isn't shallow, but come on, coquetry is, and as long as you only permit women to be ornamental, they have no choice but to be shallow or to be passed over by society as a whole. Fantine's biggest problem was that she was merely an ornament, able to be discarded when out of fashion or broken.

thébaïde: deserted place, of profound solitude. Taken from the Thebaid desert outside Thebes, where early Christian hermits withdrew from the wealthy, pagan city.

Chapter 6
Victor, quit giving in to romance novel bullshit! You knew Adèle for years before you fell in love with her, unless you're saying you fell in love with her when you were twelve. You may be comparing Juliette and Léonie, but you married Adèle after stalking her for miles on foot. Growing up with her meant it was not all the result of a single look. Yes, you have to justify your plot, but you and everyone else in the romantic industrial complex over the centuries has been ruining real life for the rest of society, creating ridiculous, unrealistic expectations. (wow, that sounds like an anti-Valentine's Day rant, doesn't it?)

“that he did not appear at all stupid” - oh, Cosette, wait until you meet him.

“tambour” - drum; “Pandour” - “The term Pandour originates from the name of a savage host, gathered under command of Baron Trenck in Croatia in 1741. They were notorious for their ferocity and later fought on the side of Austria against Frederick the Great of Prussia. In the Netherlands the term was sometimes used as a nickname for infantry and in 1793 was also used officially at the Cape for the second Hottentot regiment.” Really I think the convent should have done better than replace “love” with “violent infantryman”. But pity is definitely not a violent infantryman.

This whole chapter is what makes Cosette femslash so easy in terms of making it happen; you just need another girl in close proximity and in private.

Chapter 7
I love “it was not entirely certain that he did not curl his hair”. Also, the damning evidence of “he wore gloves”. Marius would be so defensive if he knew what Valjean thought of him, and I find the whole thing hilarious. (though I suppose the former does mean that he does find the money every so often for a haircut so he isn't wandering around with a bigger white boy fro than is acceptable at the time.)

Oh, Marius, you are such an idiot, staring at Cosette all the time without ever looking enough at her father to notice that he's shooting laser beams from his eyes.

As for Valjean and Cosette, it isn't just the whole falling in love thing – it's the natural dislocation occasioned by growing up. Home is no longer sufficient, the world must intrude, and that causes difficulties both for the protective parent and the curious child. Something of this sort would happen even without a man.

Chapter 8
Bad translation, FMA! Cosette asks at the very end of the chapter, “Father, what are they then, the galleys?” FMA uses “convicts” instead. But Cosette has heard the men described as “forçats” - convicts – and the place they are going as “les galères” - the galleys. For men in the galleys, the term would be “galériens”. This is really about as bad as Denny, improving the text by scaring Valjean more by asking for more details of the men, when she really wants to know where they are going. Her viewing of them has told her enough of what a convict is, but she needs to know what is being done with them.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 4.3 La maison de la rue Plumet 22/4/11-29/4/11

Postby Ulkis » Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:45 pm

I've actually reread parts of this book a lot, but I totally forgot that their house was built for someone's mistress, heh. Thanks for the links to the way the house was built mmebahorel - I was reading the description and thought, this sounds cool but I cannot quite understand how it worked.

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Re: 4.3 La maison de la rue Plumet 22/4/11-29/4/11

Postby Ulkis » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:26 am

Random note: I always feel really bad at the part where is says Valjean just stayed up nights wondering what Cosette thought. Since she herself barely knew what she thought, it's quite an impossible task, poor fellow.


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