laburnum/faux-ébénier – specifically, Common laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides)
Gav steals a pistolet d'arçon
(wiki French only), assigned to light cavalry, from about 1801 to 1819 if I'm reading wiki correctly. There's a picture.
“a sprite and a devil” / If you want to read about sprites: farfadets
. “devil” is galopin[/url], which is defined as “[i]Petit garçon quelconque qui a donné un sujet de mécontentement
". Little boy who has pissed you off.
“it seemed that for three months, he had been a printer's apprentice.” This interests me. Gav is eleven or so, probably going to turn twelve later in the year. Apprentices were generally placed under a master by their family, and they generally began around the age of 12. Moreover, it was expected that the family would pay something to the master, as the master was providing room, board, and training to the kid for a period of 4-6 years, depending on the trade, and some trades also required a cost for the brevet
, the license one received after completing the apprenticeship. Printing is one of them. So either Gav cleaned up his act enough that someone took pity on him until he relapsed, or someone else cleaned up his act enough to get Gav placed with someone – and in both cases, one has to ask “why?” To make this make sense, there's a whole story here Hugo didn't tell. The orphanages had trouble placing their children in apprenticeships; what makes Gav so special? Alternately, Hugo isn't thinking this through, and stating that Gav had spent any time at all as an apprentice is yet another softening of the character – that look, he managed to spend three months doing honest work, that's far better than most of these violent ragamuffins you see swarming the streets.
“ten or twelve weeks had gone by” since Gav had picked up and lost his mômes. Uhm, no. 8 at the absolutely most. Hugo was obviously not constructing a timeline to write this novel.
Hugo's twisting Gavroche in two directions in this chapter. He tries to keep him innocent by linking him with nature, and childish in his anger at missing out on a pastry (notably it's a pastry shop, not a bakery, so we're looking at a treat rather than a meal, though they are one and the same), but then he is also the representative of the crowd from the previous chapter. Hugo has taken his history and now he starts a new book drilling down to the level of a single character. And that character is a softened version of a very frightening sort of person, indeed. Not much softened, but enough, from his previous appearances in the novel, for the reader to know as an individual he is not dangerous.
And by helping the lancer, we are to know that despite how politically radical his language, Gavroche actually doesn't know what he's saying and he's the sort of boy we don't have to fear, not like that real people who subvert law and order. Hugo doesn't actually like the subversion of law and order, and I think we see that particularly in the way he uses Gavroche. The really radical stuff he spews at bourgeois and concierges is softened by actions such as helping the lancer. And when he says something leftist but kind, rather than subversive of law and order as general concepts, that can also be acknowledged. Soliloquizing over the ragpicker, “it's so you'll have more good things to eat in your basket”, is one and the same with telling the dog, “My poor bow-wow”.
The old soldier was at many of the same battles as Pontmercy: Austerlitz in 05, Friedland in 07, and then Moscow and its retreat, plus Waterloo. The barber's “how wonderful to die on the battlefield”, combined with this conversation about the Emperor and overlapping battles with Pontmercy, may be a foreshadowing of Marius' fate.
I'm not a gun authority, but Cary might be able to explicate further if anyone is curious about the weaponry that is mentioned.
fusil de chasse à deux coups – double-barreled shotgun
fusil de garde national, deux pistolets – I have no idea which rifle they were supposed to purchase at this time. If they were to have military-grade weapons, probably this infantry rifle
. We know nothing about the pistols.
mousqueton de cavalerie – cavalry musket (1816 and 1822 models pictured here; text in French
carabine – rifled; in English usage, a carbine is a rifled long gun that is shorter than a rifle or a musket.
I have to LOL at both Courfeyrac for his unsheathed sword-stick and Feuilly for shouting “Vive la Pologne!” in the middle of a revolution.
Is this the first time we see Gav in their company? We learn later that he's known to them, since Navet introduces himself as a friend of Gav's, but if this is the first time, what we're seeing is a student who is essentially saying “what the hell, come with us” to a strange street kid.
“flock” - ouailles; “geese” - oies (and that permission has been up now for about six weeks after Easter. I'm a little surprised it hasn't been torn down or pasted over with something else. I know, Hugo doesn't care about his timeline and wanted a good excuse to have Bahorel making anti-clerical puns to go with everything else.)
Is the man with the black beard one of the unnamed guys from the café? We found one!
From closing down to one, Gavroche, we've now expanded to take in other characters and a more general historical turn (with the description of the crowd).
Geographically, we keep building toward Saint-Merry; thematically, we're in movement. All of our characters are on the march, but we're also refining just what we're at. There has been violence; there will be more; we are moving toward it; we are moving toward a more definite goal than just “down with everything the bourgeoisie likes” (thus the swipe at Bahorel's anti-clericalism).
I don't really understand why we get so much of Gav's song. The references are to Paris suburbs, but I really don't get the point of having the whole thing. There's no obvious thematic connection, not like when he's riffing on the Marseillaise at the bourgeois.
Ok, Courfeyrac keeps a box the size of a large suitcase hidden in his dirty laundry. How much dirty laundry does he keep around? LOL
I <3 Courfeyrac. I can't help it. He's sorta being a dick to the poor concierge, but it's Courfeyrac, so he's all charming and good-tempered about it and thus it doesn't come off like a dickish move (not like Combeferre singing loudly behind Marius' back).
He addresses Éponine in the familiar; he addresses his concierge in the formal. There is a class difference between the concierge and the manual labourer, so it makes sense that Éponine and Gavroche both get the familiar, which can also be the contemptuous, but I wonder if there's something of youth in his choice of address as well. The young people he is on terms with; his concierge, he treats with the respect due her age. (Of course he uses the formal with M. Mabeuf, but that's to be expected in addressing an elder stranger of his same social class despite the economic difference. With the concierge and Éponine, we have two working class characters, one who has benefit of respect through formal address, and one who does not.)
And then we carry past our seeming goal of Saint-Merry in order to differentiate our fiction from the historical reality already described.
The whole book is rather cinematic - we're really following Gav with our camera through the streets of Paris, everything coming together to us, in a sense, rather than us going to it. We are the centre, but we are moving. And because we are moving, we go straight past history (Saint-Merry) into fiction.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard