4.9 Où vont-ils?/Where are They Going? 22/5/11-24/5/11

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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4.9 Où vont-ils?/Where are They Going? 22/5/11-24/5/11

Postby Charlette-Ollie » Sun May 22, 2011 11:20 am

Volume 4: The Idyll of the Rue Plumet and the Epic of the Rue Saint-Denis, book 9: Where are They Going?

Chapters:

1. Jean Valjean
2. Marius
3. Monsieur Mabeuf

Jean Valjean decides to move to England with Cosette. Marius, arriving at the rue Plumet and finding Cosette gone, heads to the barricade. Meanwhile, M. Mabeuf has become destitute and by the morning of June 5, has sold his last book.

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Re: 4.9 Où vont-ils?/Where are They Going? 22/5/11-24/5/11

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

Only two notes this time.

Livre IX

Chapitre 1
1 (a man like Pépin or Morey): Pépin et Morey, complice de Fieschi lors de l'attentat de 1835 contre Louis-Philippe, furent exécutés le 15 janvier 1836. selon Choses vues (ouv. cit., 1830-1846, p. 143 et suiv.), ils avaient été dénoncés par Fieschi.
Pépin and Morey, accomplices of Fieschi in his 1835 assassination attempt on Louis-Philippe, were executed 15 January 1836. According to Things Seen (op. cit., 1830-1846, p. 143 and following), they had been denounced by Fieschi.

Chapitre 3
2 (finally, a Diogenes Laertius, printed in Lyon in 1644): Ce Diogène Laërce-là est inconnu à la Bibliothèque nationale.
This particular Diogenes Laertius is unknown to the National Library.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 4.9 Où vont-ils?/Where are They Going? 22/5/11-24/5/11

Postby Charlette-Ollie » Mon May 23, 2011 2:42 am

This book is one of the saddest ones in the whole Brick for me! That poor old dear Mabeuf, in particular, breaks my heart.

It's wonderful how your first sense of the beginning of the revolt is from such a mellow and dispirited perspective. It really shows up the aliveness of the revolution, but also foreshadows the tragedies which are to follow.

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Re: 4.9 Où vont-ils?/Where are They Going? 22/5/11-24/5/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat May 28, 2011 12:54 am

Book 9

Chapter 1
I think FMA have another bad translation – Valjean is dressed in “sa veste d'ouvrier et un pantalon de toile grise”, which should be “his workman's jacket and gray linen trousers”, which they have as “workingman's smock and brown linen trousers”. I'll give them the colour as it doesn't make much difference, but it is absolutely not a smock. The 1835 Dictionary of the Académie française defines “veste” as Une sorte de vêtement qui tient lieu de l'habit, et dont les basques sont beaucoup plus courtes. Une veste d'ouvrier. Une veste de drap, de toile. Une veste de chasse. Être en veste. “A type of clothing that takes the place of a coat and of which the tails are significantly shorter. A worker's jacket. A woolen jacket, a linen jacket. A hunting jacket. To wear a jacket.” (“basque”, roughly, is the portion of fabric falling below the waist, as the term applies even to earlier fashions where we wouldn't really say the coats have tails. But the metaphorical “riding his coattails” uses “basques” as the place from which one “hangs” in the French usage.) Éponine in boy's clothes is possibly wearing a smock, or at least an article of clothing resembling a smock.

Valjean rightly has a lot on his mind – the biggest issue with leaving is getting permission to leave. Remember that one is supposed to have a passport for internal travel as well as foreign travel – the last legit passport Valjean had was the yellow one they gave him on his release from prison. He can't even easily retire to the country without a passport. Any time since, he's been without papers or with forged papers, and I can easily imagine that the tense political situation is going to make it difficult to get a decent forgery, as political suspects are likely to need the same thing as a precaution for getting out of Dodge. While he's probably better off traveling with Cosette and as a bourgeois, as much of the reason for passports was to control the movement of impoverished workers (you had to have permission from your home district to travel in search of work, and if you were in a district you shouldn't have to pass through on your way to the destination stated on your passport, you had no recourse to services), settling anywhere will be difficult (one must present one's passport at the town hall of every town one stays in, even overnight, as you can recall from Valjean's adventures in Digne and M-sur-M) and leaving the country impossible.

So he's caught between a rock and a hard place. Thénardier out of jail and prowling around is dangerous; the police crackdown is dangerous; getting out of town is dangerous. He's safe if he can get decent enough papers to take him out of the country, but that's in itself a gamble. I'm sure he really misses the convent right now if he isn't thinking that at Cosette's age, she'd probably be a novice and have far less contact with him. And he thinks he and Cosette are doing well right now together, poor guy.

I suspect he's going to England because that's where Hugo passed most of his exile, but it does make me wonder what Valjean expects from England. A more sensible option would be Belgium (Hugo got himself deported from Belgium) unless they've got an extradition agreement with France? (France was guaranteeing Belgian sovereignty, which the Netherlands did not recognise until 1839, and initially Louis-Philippe's youngest son was asked to become the Belgian king, but the French were not making territorial claims and some of the fallout was settling by June 1832, I think.) Or was Valjean studying the English language among his other reading? I'm just thinking getting across a border and yet staying in a place that is still French-speaking would be a lot easier, on both him and Cosette. Would he be headed to the Channel Islands the way Hugo ended up? Or to London and its population of European exiles? Since 1832 is in many ways filling in for 1848, and London was a centre of political exiles after all the 1848 failures across Europe. The thought process has me curious, is all.

Chapter 2
I'm now picturing deliciously bad fanfic thanks to the Candide reference. A grand inquisitor just isn't good enough at this period, so who can we have Cosette sleeping with? (also, I have to LOL, because of seeing Geoff Packard sulk like Jean Servais in the 1934 film. Geoff was Candide in the Goodman Theatre/Shakespeare Theatre Company co-production, and he came back to DC to play the title role in Liberty Smith, where the first act finale was a total knock off of One Day More, completely with sulky dumped boy being pushed to fight for freedom with his friends. Geoff is adorable as anything and I'd take him for a stage Marius – he's far too sunny-dim to be very book-accurate, though. Candide doesn't really angst; he just faints at everything.)

The phenomenal appearance of political activity in Courfeyrac's flat is definitely where I pull my major characterisation of the ABC. The fact that it's Courfeyrac, Enjolras, Feuilly, and Combeferre says to me that Feuilly is far more important that Hugo was giving him credit for about six weeks earlier (estimating that Enjolras and His Lieutenants takes place in late April and Enjolras isn't 100% certain of Feuilly's name). Enjolras is there, these are the guys actually going to the funeral, and Feuilly is in a student's apartment, which to me shows a certain amount of trust for a social outsider. I may also be reading too much into it. These are the guys going to the funeral, for the most part (Bahorel and Prouvaire, our potential Romantics, are off on their own, and the rest prove to be slackers), and that may be all there is to it. Of course, since we're really following Marius here, and Marius has been hanging around Courfeyrac but not the rest of them all that much (what with Enjolras' comments in Enjolras and His Lieutenants), we're getting very little here, particularly since Marius is half asleep and going “funeral? What? Who? Zzzzzz”.

The “obscure thought” that prompted him to take the pistols with him was either – the boys loading up for the funeral, or an idea that he might want to go to Cosette's empty garden and blow his brains out there, where he was once happy. I might thank Hugo for not spelling out that latter idea, as Marius is emo enough without it being stated for the record.

“He looked as if he had bathed in the Seine without being aware of it.” Ew. Just – ew.

Oh, Marius, you're so emo.

Éponine's spent a busy couple of days moving the plot along, hasn't she? :)

Chapter 3
Poor M. Mabeuf. Despair is what has him continually in despair. He's obviously suffering from depression, so that he doesn't even bother attempting to get a good price for his books from collectors – that would take effort, and he can't bring himself to make effort.

Unlike Marius, who is simply being emo, Mabeuf is actually depressed, and I feel so sorry for him.

The books that do exist – a fairly Huguenot collection:

Claude Paradin, Les Quadrains historiques de la Bible, 1560 – looks to be the only purely Catholic author on this entire list, and that may be by default as info is hard to come by.
Pierre de Besse, La Concordance des Bibles – I'm not seeing a Concordance, but he has several works on religion published between 1606 and 1624 just from a quick glance on Google Books. He was an orator and theologian from Limousin; many of his works were translated into German, and his publications are found in both Latin and French. The book Hugo mentions might be a reference to de Besse's 1608 work on translating the Bible into French, improving upon the complete but literal version done in the 1540s by Lefèvre d'Étaples (this according to The Catholic Dictionary, 1913 edition).
Jean de La Haye, Les Marguerites de la Marguerite – the real title is “Marguerites de la Marguerite des princesses, très-illustre reine de Navarre”, according to Pierre Bayle's Dictionnaire historique et critique. This work, from 1547, is a compilation of poetry written by Marguerite de Navarre.
Jean de Villiers-Hotman, De la Charge et dignité de l'ambassadeur – Villiers-Hotman was a Huguenot, spent some time in England, and translated one of James I/VI's books into French. This one, also published as “L'ambassadeur”, was published in 1604 and may have been taken from (or even plagarised) a treatise by Charles Pascal (or Paschal) on the same subject. There are some studies and articles, but I'm not finding the whole thing.
Jean Plantavit de la Pause - Florilegium rabbinicum, 1644. The editor was a bishop of Lodève from 1625 to his death in 1651, but he was of protestant upbringing.
Tibullus, 1567, probably the Venetian edition with commentary by Achilles Statius - I'm wondering if there's some conflation here, however. Philippe Desportes, a poet patronised by Henri de Valois (King Henry III), was known as “the French Tibullus”, which seems to fit better into the overall Huguenot theme of so much of what Mabeuf has collected.
Robert Estienne
Alde/Aldine (Aldus Manutius)
Elzevir

It's a very Huguenot list where we have actual works to look at, and the house of Elzevir published political as well as religious works and classics. What is Hugo trying to tell us here about Mabeuf? Not that he has protestant leanings, obviously, but is it reinforcing his outsider status in some manner? Or does it explain why he was able to collect some really great works – they were unpopular to collect in the return to Catholicism of the Restoration? They aren't really all that random, since there is that Huguenot through-line to so many, but I have no idea what it means.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 4.9 Où vont-ils?/Where are They Going? 22/5/11-24/5/11

Postby Col.Despard » Sat May 28, 2011 11:32 pm

More than ever, I'm convinced that the "Enjolras and his Lieutenants" scene was originally intended to be inserted in an earlier chapter, but was shuffled to the later period and slightly tweaked with the Feuilly comment somehow slipping through. I have the oddest recollection - and could be quite wrong - that there's a reference to "dominoes" in Hugo's earlier notes that fits in earlier chronologically (and not the draft where they're playing dominoes in the Musain when Marius is introduced to them). It might have been in some notes Marguerite posted? I meant to raise it at the time, as I wondered if it might have indicated the original placement of the Barrière du Maine scene (and would help resolve the mystery of why Enjolras as late as 1832 is still willing to give Grantaire a chance).

Agreeing wholeheartedly that Feuilly is occupying a significant place here, standing alongside the three leaders as they prepare for the day...something reinforced later at the barricade when Enjolras entrusts so much of the actual combat to him. Yeah, there's possibly a bit of "here is the ideologically important symbol of the working class", of which we see shades in his view from a barricade speech, but I think Enjolras is also an intelligent and practical leader, so he's going to delegate particular tasks to the man most suited...in this case, Feuilly.

Am giggling over your comments on Emo Marius and Plot Agent Éponine. Great notes on Mabeuf's reading matter, too.
"The principles of freedom, of humanity, and of justice, will finally triumph over falsehood, tyranny and delusion, and every principle inimical to the interests of the human race" - Edward Despard, 1803
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