4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

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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4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby Frédérique » Sun May 15, 2011 3:27 pm

Volume 4: The Idyll in the Rue Plumet and the Epic in the Rue Saint-Denis, book 8: Les enchantements et les désolations/Enchantments and desolations

Chapters:

1. Pleine lumière/Full light
2. L'étourdissement du bonheur complet/The dizzying quality of perfect happiness
3. Commencement d'ombre/The beginning of shadow
4. Cab roule en anglais et jappe en argot/A cab runs in English and yelps in argot
5. Choses de la nuit/Things of the night
6. Marius redevient réel au point de donner son adresse à Cosette/Marius becomes practical once more to the extent of giving his address to Cosette
7. Le vieux cœur et le jeune cœur en présence/The old heart and the young heart in the presence of each other

You can find the French text of this book here and the Hapgood English translation here.

In which, on the enchantment front, Cosette and Marius are wholly absorbed in each other; on the side of desolation, Valjean suggests to the former that they shall (perhaps) with speed to England and Marius and Gillenormand once again do not see eye to eye on the question of the former's design for a life. Somewhere in between, Patron-Minette's (and Thénardier's) plan to rob the Rue Plumet house is thwarted by Éponine.

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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun May 15, 2011 5:16 pm

Livre 8

Chapitre 1
1 (crush a veteran): Voir III, 6, 8 et la note 8.
See III, 6, 8 and note 8. [the ankle incident]

Chapitre 4
2 (Cab Rolls in English): Cette voiture anglaise fut introduite en France en 1852. L'insistance sur le mot conduit à noter qu'il est l'anagramme de A B C.
This English carriage was introduced to France in 1852. The insistence on this word leads us to note that it is the anagram of A B C. [Can I facepalm right here?]

3 (nets of Saint-Cloud): Tendus en travers de la Seine, ces filets retenaient les cadavres des noyés.
Hunge across the Seine, these nets held the corpses of the drowned.

4 (et le temps perdu/and time gone by): Chanson de Béranger, Ma Grand-mère, dont le premier vers est :
<< Combien je regrette >> …

Song by Béranger, My Grandmother, of which the first verse is:
“How much I regret . . .”

Chapitre 7
5 (in place of the monument to M. le duc de Berry): Ce monument expiatoire, élevé par la Restauration sur les lieux de l'attentat où le duc de Berry fut tué en 1820 (square Louvois), ne fut remplacé par la fontaine de Visconti qu'en 1844.
This expiatory monument, erected by the Restoration on the places of the attack in which the duc de Berry was killed in 1820 (Louvois Square), was not replaced by the Visconti fountain until 1844.
[Trying to put some slightly contradictory information together, it looks as if almost immediately after the duc de Berry's assassination, Louis XVIII permitted the Paris city council to set up two nation-wide subscriptions: one for a monument, the other to purchase the chateau of Chambord for the widowed duchesse de Berry. At some point, it looks as if he thought better of the monument idea, and said no-go. The second idea, then, was to use the funds to commission a marble statue for the cathedral of Notre-Dame. But then Louis died and Charles was more amenable to the whole idea. The Opera House in the rue Richelieu was being torn down anyway, and it looks as if, in planning the public square that would take its place, an expiatory chapel was permitted in the memory of the duc de Berry. Construction must have begun around 1827 (I'm finding demolition references in the future tense in an 1828 Dictionnaire Historique de Paris (p. 458) and monument construction references in an 1827 Galignani (p. 642)), and by 1830, Galignani has a full description of said expiatory chapel (p. 84). Unfortunately, the entire relevant page in Assassination, politics and miracles:
France and the Royalist reaction of 1820
is unavailable in the preview, so I have no further information on the subscription. From an end note, it looks as if the subscription funds were never disbursed – the state itself paid for the chapel – and funds may have been returned to subscribers or used by the July Monarchy for the Visconti fountain. I'm not finding great documentation out there.]
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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat May 21, 2011 10:20 pm

Chapter 1
Victor, when you write from experience of men taking advantage of women, it makes a female reader wonder why you didn't CUT THAT SHIT OUT. You're writing here of how it happens and that there are consequences – but you also don't care.

I did, however, have to LOL about the whole “and they definitely didn't have sex” part. “Not that they respected it; they were ignorant of it.” He sort of throws a spanner in there, to me, with “Marius felt a barrier – Cosette's chastity”, but all the rest of it is pure Marius. Courfeyrac would be appalled that he turned away rather than take in the sight of Cosette's boobs.

Unfortunately, I find this section so incredibly boring. Their conversations are of nothing. No matter what Cosette babbles here, about Marius being wiser than she is and not stupid in the least, I just have this overwhelming feeling that she'll learn better soon enough. Hugo writes the narrative beautifully, but the conversations are awful. You could give half of these fragments, at least, to Padme and Anakin and they'd be no better than the crap George Lucas came up with in Episode 3.

I also feel that Hugo is undermining himself here. If, indeed, Cosette was making all sorts of true and accurate observations in her chatter, why are none quoted? Not helping Cosette sound like anything other than a twit, Victor. “I've been loving you a little more every minute since this morning” and “You're not allowed to cough, because if you're unwell, that would make me unhappy” is all you can do here? Really?

Missing from the FMA translation (and possibly from others), there's a parenthesis basically saying that at some point, love led them spontaneously to begin addressing each other in the familiar. Though they flip in and out – Cosette likes to order him around in the formal and end in the familiar to show it's all a joke.

Chapter 2
Aww, her description of Valjean! “he was poor, and he deprived himself of everything while he deprived her of nothing.”

“He was so dazzled that his brain was wiped clean.” I shouldn't laugh, but I have to.

“With eyes closed is the best way to look at the soul.” This is true, and something Marius should probably remember other than with Cosette.

Chapter 3
Is Valjean really that clueless? I don't mean about Cosette – I mean about the security breach. It's a large garden, yes, and Valjean is at the back of it, and the house may be in between, and Marius doesn't really walk around in there all that much while Cosette does enough to cover any footprints that he might have left, but the whole thing seems a bit far-fetched. Can Marius really move a rusty piece of iron so silently?

Marius talking politics? Is that code for Marius talking about Napoleon? Or is he starting to pick some things up from Courfeyrac and using them as something to ramble on about? (What do you want to be Courfeyrac would not mind talking about clothes with Cosette in the least? Of course, he also would be taking every opportunity to look at her boobs.)

I <3 Courfeyrac :)

Poor Éponine. Every time she meets up with Marius after a long absence, he addresses her in the formal and she gets all upset. She seems to be getting her hopes up way too high each time, and of course Marius will fall short because he's not paying any attention to her.

Chapter 4
I can't figure out the Lisette reference – there are several characters in very different classic French comedies that it could come from. It's a common name for the clever servant character, used by both Marivaux and Molière, and probably others I'm not finding with a quick wiki search.

The comment about Éponine giving up slang is interesting, since Parnasse also tends not to use it if he can help it. It may be since meeting Marius, but it's another link with Parnasse.

Bad translation, FMA! Thenardier calls her a bitch (chienne, female form of chien, dog), which is why she replies, “I'm not the daughter of a dog, I'm the daughter of a wolf”.

What the hell, these guys are hanging around this close to a street lamp, with Toussaint awake in the upper floors? Marius and Cosette are running a hell of a risk being in the garden with her awake as it is; now the gang is actually going on like this near a street lamp they haven't taken care of?

What does Babet mean, “The old man must be a jew”? I'm not finding the usual, or even the period, markers in “he lives in the backyard and leaves the women the house”. Is it just that eccentricity is a Jewish trait? Or is he “guarding” something in the backyard, in Babet's mind?

LOL, Brujon robbing the police station for the hell of it.

Chapter 6
Eww. Marius had been taking possession of Cosette and no reciprocation? Only at the very end of the long paragraph of description of his possession do we even get a hint of reciprocation, that she also possesses something of him. He does not feel any part of himself lost, which I rather think he ought to do.

Faublas – I only find a Libertine novel involving transvestism (wiki in French only).

Busiris – Greek mythological king (in Egypt; related to Osiris) who massacres all his visitors

When Marius asks Cosette coldly, “Will you go?” [to England], he is addressing her in the formal. And she asks, rather as Éponine does, “Why are you calling me 'vous'?”

Courfeyrac is a damned good friend if Marius owes him 200 francs. Though at least when he gets agitated, he forgets he's been addressing her as “vous” and drops into the familiar again.

She had been weeping for two hours while Marius had been thinking, up against the tree like an emo statue of Despair? Good god, just as I was thinking Cosette was a rocket scientist compared to Marius, they're both driving me mad. And really, can you get more emo than “I give you my sacred word of honour, that I've never given anyone else, that I'll die if you leave me”? It sounds like he's going to go home and cut himself. “Don't expect me tomorrow” sounds way too much like “I'm going to kill myself tonight”, so thank you for clarifying that you'll be back the day after, Marius.

I do give Cosette some credit here just in general – it has to suck being a girl and never trusted out alone.

Will catch up on the last chapter later tonight.
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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby Ulkis » Sat May 21, 2011 10:39 pm

Yeah, I know Cosette is just a woman and her bird brains can't handle it, but even for the time period this takes place in I dunno why Marius can't just tell her, I'm gonna go to my grandfather's and ask him for permission to marry you? The only conclusion I can come up with is that he was afraid to jinx it if he told anyone, heh. (Also, wouldn't Cosette's father have to improve even if Gillenormand consented?)

Also, I wonder why Cosette didn't tell Valjean about Marius, besides the meta reason of it would ruin the plot. Does it not even occur to her? Does she think he'll forbid contact? Is she afraid to tell him she's been dishonest with him? I do wonder how the conversation went when Valjean came from dropping Marius off at Gillenormand's after the barricade. ("So, Cosette, whatchya been up to latelyyyyy?")

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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun May 22, 2011 4:55 am

I think she's afraid to tell because it'll put an end to the whole thing - she isn't stupid, she's noticed they have no one around and move around a lot. Marius may not be seen as a good thing, and she knows she's been bad, sneaking around behind Valjean's back.

I also think Marius is afraid to jinx it - he's an idiot, but I don't think he's implying that Cosette can't handle the possibility of maybe getting married quickly. Instead, he knows it's far-fetched and he doesn't want to get her hopes up too much and if he talks about it too much as a possibility, it'll definitely not happen.
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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun May 22, 2011 5:15 pm

And chapter 8.

LOL that one of M. Gillenormand's complaints about Théodule is that he does not talk about his mistresses very well. Young people today are so vulgar :)

“antique portrait of Garat” - Pierre-Jean Garat, a singer connected with the royal family during the revolution. (link is to French wiki, which has pictures, but there's also a brief English article.)

“coromandel screen” is really Chinese lacquer – trade goods were consolidated in ports along the Coromandel Coast of India for shipping to Europe.

I love that Mlle Gillenormand tries to make sure her father is wrapped up when he goes out so no one laughs at him.

The bullet from 18 July – I'm not entirely certain what was going on, as it's a week prior to the Four Ordinances of Saint-Cloud that provoked the actual revolution, and a day before the postponed elections were actually held. Anyone have a better sense what was going on here?

“What a pity I am not 25” - the law on marriage required parental consent until then, at which point a marriage could still be contracted even if the parent/guardian refused, though a definite refusal still had to be obtained and a waiting period observed.

“I like you better in love than as a Jacobin” - LOL! I <3 M. Gillenormand.

I feel sorry for him, not at all for Marius. Mostly because Courfeyrac should have been a better preparation for this suggestion, if somehow his lifetime with his grandfather hadn't. Marius is so appalled (because he doesn't think) that he doesn't even bother to explain the obvious – her father is taking her to England for an unknown period of time, therefore I can't sex her up at that distance – and just walks out all butthurt that his grandfather is being his grandfather. The poor man was finally making his affections known, and it's thrown back in his face.

Marius, you're an idiot.
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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby TheOfficeIsClosed » Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:14 pm

I've just reached this bit, and I'm currently trying my best to pretend the line about Marius pressing Cosette against the wall doesn't exist... :? I mean, why? It just cancels out everything he's written about them a chapter earlier...

Also, I find it odd that the English translates Montparnasse's line at the end of that chapter to 'I'd have cut her throat' or something similar, when the actual term he uses is 'donner le coup de pouce' which appears to translate to 'give a helping hand'... I mean, it shouldn't matter since it's clearly what he meant, but that doesn't mean they have to change the actual thing that was said! I know you're probably all thinking 'well that's translations for you', but...yeah.

Also, I had some deep thoughts about some other stuff that was said in that chapter but that would take a lot of typing out which I can't be bothered to do right now so... I'll come back tomorrow. Hopefully. If anyone really wants to read it feel free to remind me if I forget, but I'll try to come back tomorrow.
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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:12 am

Technically, the translation is off, but it's far more accurate than the idiomatic phrase you've tried to identify.

According to Émile Littré: Dictionnaire de la langue française (1872-77) (accessed via Dictionnaires d'autres fois, "Donner un coup de pouce, étrangler."

It means "to strangle".

As for why the translator chose "slit her throat" rather than "strangle her" or "throttle her", that's another question. It calls back to the lingre (so much for Parnasse not speaking argot) he has open, but Hugo didn't write that.
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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby TheOfficeIsClosed » Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:08 pm

Ah okay, I did wonder if it actually meant something else that the internet wasn't revealing to me :) That makes a lot more sense, and I did notice that all the definitions I found said un rather than le and wondered if it made any difference, but as I said nothing else was coming up!

Slitting her throat is still more accurate than 'I would have shown her the weight of my hand' or something along those lines which I seem to recall some of the other translations saying...

But yeah, either way that makes a lot more sense now, thanks! :mrgreen:
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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby TheOfficeIsClosed » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:06 am

Oh, and the thoughts I had!

I always thought it was vaguely funny/ironic how within one little chapter Montparnasse goes from telling Éponine to be careful and warning her about his knife being open to threatening to cut her throat(or strangling her, but after all he does flash his knife as a way of finishing his sentence about what he's going to do to her when talking to the others, so... Anyway.), but it was only recently that it occurred to me that there might be more to it than what he actually says. I'm starting to see it as more of a general warning.
As in, a 'Take care, if you don't back off now you'll only end up getting yourself hurt' kinda thing. Yes, both times he says it she keeps taking his hand and is in danger of physically cutting herself, but on both occasions she's also pleading with him(ok, requesting, at least!!) to listen and to back her up, and he's probably quite deliberately ignoring her and only repeating that's she'll cut herself...

Which makes a whole lot more sense than him warning her just out of concern, and also fits a lot better with his line about foxes and chickens, as well as his threats later on. So basically he's generally pretty cold towards her throughout the whole chapter.

I personally find all this pretty intriguing. I mean, by the time they start any sort of conversation she's already holding them all up by talking to them and wasting their time in general(and he might well already be suspicious of her lying about the thing being a 'biscuit'), so it hardly says much about their relationship in general or how they were before that incident, but still, it's the only proper detailed interaction they have in the entire book where they actually speak to each other. :roll:

Sometimes it annoys me how much reading between the lines you have to do for all these minor(ish) characters, but at the same time... I kinda love doing it.

I'm hardly going to be the first in the fandom to have realised this and it might well be perfectly obvious for most people, but it literally just occurred to me so I thought I would just share my thoughts anyway because what are forums for :P

Well I did say this was going to take some typing out...

Either way, I'd probably do well to go to bed right now... :lol:
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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby Darkhorse » Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:00 pm

I took the Jew comment to be reference to his wealth (not being stereotypical here.) What sort of laws did Parisen Jews have to obey? Was there a segregation,.implied by the line that proceeds it about the man living behind, separate.

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Re: 4.8 Les enchantements et les désolations 15/5/11-21/5/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:43 am

(I swear, sometimes it seems I know everything, but I really have just done lots of research into utterly random topics related to the time period of this novel.)

Jewish citizenship was accomplished at the time of the Revolution. There were three main Jewish populations - the Sephardim in the south, generally originally expelled from Spain and Portugal (Perès = Perez); the Ashkenazim in the East, generally German or Yiddish speakers; and the avignonnais, a small population left over from when the schism in the Catholic church led a pope to be in residence in Avignon (these were frequently called "Pope's Jews"). The Sephardim were, in general, heavily assimilated, urban, and fairly wealthy; the Ashkenazim were very much unassimilated, poor, and resident in villages as much as in towns. Wealthy Sephardic heads of families basically went to the Constituent Assembly and said "hey, we're all here because we're men of wealth who were cut out of power by the nobles, but that's all over now. If France is to be a nation of free citizens, without the oversight of the Catholic Church, that should mean we're citizens, too, right?" Debate went back and forth on this, of whether the Jewish populations were French or were foreigners resident in France, which is how they had always been treated, and whether it was possible to emancipate only the Sephardim and not those bearded backward Germanic Ashkenazim. In the end, emancipation of all groups went through, but staggered, and the Jews of Alsace were the last to gain citizenship. This is all decided by 1793 or so.

The importance here is that both Jews and Protestants are, by the turn of the century, given full citizenship: for the first time, these groups have access to the universities and professional schools, are permitted to vote, and have the laws of France applied to them as citizens rather than foreigners. (I think the Protestants didn't have the foreigner issue.) Prior to this, if a foreigner died on French soil, his estate was forfeit to the state - the family did not inherit. But the Sephardim were generally treated as if a corporate entity, not as individual foreigners, so things get a little weird and complicated here, while the Ashkenazim were generally treated as individual foreigners and had to petition the king for rights family by family. But basically, emancipation meant the application of the law and the entry to civil society that had been denied for centuries. It also meant the responsibilities of citizenship: taxation and military conscription. Jews had not previously been eligible for conscription, but Napoleon said heck with that.

With the Restoration, things mostly stayed where they were, except in education. Jewish students were no longer admitted to the Ecole normale supérieur (the teaching college), and those who had lately graduated were never hired for teaching jobs. This general prejudice against jews in education is in part from the return of the Church to educational authority - Louis XVIII sort of let the church back in through a back door by letting the Jesuits return to France and not stopping them from setting up schools, but Charles X opened the floodgates and returned the Catholic religion specifically to the state schools.

So keep in mind that the impossibility of entering the professions for a few centuries is why so many jewish families were in commerce. I don't mean finance - obviously, the medieval prohibitions on usury are I think generally well known - but commerce. Wholesale merchants, high level traders. They moved goods from place to place, not just funds.

This is all some basic background. Now, what did Babet et. al. know of or think of the Jewish population? What did their anti-semitism look like?

The Parisian Jewish population was mixed, since it was the capital. Again, here is where the difference between a bearded rabbi and Betty Rothschild was on full display. These guys would never have seen the wealthy except at a distance, and may or may not have even recognised which ones were Jews. The jewish neighbourhood is around the rue des Rosiers, not terribly far from St-Merry (the rue de la Verrerie stops two blocks south of of the rue des Rosiers). It is perfectly plausible that they may have seen actual jewish people going about their normal business.

However, that's never really stopped stereotypes from sticking. These guys almost certainly have an image in their heads from popular culture - the comedies at the Vaudeville and the like. And the stage Jew is always a scruffy, German-accented miser scheming for more money to never spend, unless it's to save his own skin. These characteristics may be subverted for plot reasons, but they are always there. they are expected to be there. An 1823 play called Le Juif turns the Jew into the hero who saves the ingenue and her fiancé through his prudent scheming, but he is drawn entirely within this stereotype. The important aspect of the stage Jew, however, is that he is a figure of ridicule, not horror. He's too pathetic, too centred on his money and blind to the real world, to be dangerous to the good French people at the centre of these stories. A bit later, some danger may come back because of the Simon Deutz case.

Deutz was friends with and married to the sister of David Drach, who was a prominent Parisian rabbi who converted to Christianity in the 1820s. Big news, obviously, when that happened, and Deutz followed him in 1828, to additional fanfare from the ultras, that led to his involvement with the royal family, in particular the Duchesse de Berry. When she made her (terrible idea) return to France in 1832 to put her son (the "miracle child" born after his father's assassination) on the throne, Deutz is the one who turned her in to the authorities. And pretty much got treated worse than the second coming of Judas, because an argument could be made that Judas was doing just what Jesus wanted him to do, but the Duchesse de Berry certainly did not want to go to prison. this was really nasty, dragged Drach into the whole thing for obvious reasons, and brought out some lovely statements from Victor Hugo himself about how Deutz' crimes started with his conversion, that he wasn't even a Jew, he was worse than that, a traitor to all honour. Drach was shouting as loudly as anyone about how his brother-in-law was a false convert who he hadn't had anything to do with in years. It did not help matters at all that Deutz's father was the chief rabbi of Paris. Legitimist newspapers printed that the government had paid a lot of Jews, maybe even the entire Jewish nation, to be spies and prevent the natural government of France from returning.

There is some very strong and very disgusting antisemitism at this period, which should form a background to your reading (particularly since Hugo was far from immune to it), but I think it's just the stage Jew stereotype that's being referenced here. Miserly, controlling of his daughter, behaving eccentrically - must all be to protect his moneybags. If Valjean had a German accent, the picture would be pretty complete.
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