4.13 Marius entre dans l'ombre 13/6/11-15/6/11

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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4.13 Marius entre dans l'ombre 13/6/11-15/6/11

Postby Ulkis » Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:52 pm

Volume 4: The Idyll in the Rue Plumet and the Epic of the Rue Saint-Denis, book 13: Marius Enters the Darkness


1. De la rue Plumet au quartier Saint-Denis/From the Rue Plumet to the Quartier Saint-Denis
2. Paris à vol de hibou/Paris - a Bird's Eye-View
3. L'extrême bord/The Extreme Edge

After discovering that Cosette is no longer in the Rue Plumet, Marius decides to head toward the barricades and in an unexpected twist, he angsts about it. He finally gets to the barricade after he broods to his satisfaction.

(Seriously though, I do appreciate that Marius freaks out a little bit as he gets closer to the barricade, although really, Marius, you think Cosette didn't give a damn about you and just left you? It's not like you don't know she has a shady father who she just told you wants to move to England at any moment or anything.)

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Re: 4.13 Marius entre dans l'ombre 13/6/11-15/6/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:49 am

When Marius angsts, there's little need for explanatory notes :)

Livre 8

Chapitre 1
1: La place Louis XV devint successivement place de la Révolution en 1792, de la Concorde en 1795, Louis XV à nouveau en 1814, Louis XVI en 1823. En 1830, elle était redevenue place de la Concorde, mais son nom primitif était resté usuel.
Place Louis XV became successively Place of the Revolution in 1792, of Concord in 1795, Louis XV again in 1814, Louis XVI in 1823. In 1830, it again became place de la Concorde, but its earlier name remained usually in use.

Chapitre 2
2: Hugo renvoie ici le lecteur au fameux chapitre de Notre-Dame de Paris : Paris à vol d'oiseau.
Hugo here recalls to the reader the famous chapter of Notre-Dame de Paris: Paris From the Flight of a Bird (A Bird's Eye View of Paris).

Chapitre 3
3: Déjà cité avec Harmodius en III, 4, 1 dans le portrait d'Enjolras – voir note 6.
Already cited with Harmodius in III, 4, 1, in the portrait of Enjolras – see note 6. [Daggers hidden under garlands of myrtle. Also, slashy.]
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 4.13 Marius entre dans l'ombre 13/6/11-15/6/11

Postby Col.Despard » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:34 am

After discovering that Cosette is no longer in the Rue Plumet, Marius decides to head toward the barricades and in an unexpected twist, he angsts about it. He finally gets to the barricade after he broods to his satisfaction.

Ulkis, you have managed to provide my new favourite comment about Marius.

And yay for "Harmodius: See Slash".
"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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Re: 4.13 Marius entre dans l'ombre 13/6/11-15/6/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:04 am

Chapter 1
Fashionable Paris ignores the riot – the barricades have done nothing to it. The café Laiter is mentioned in an 1825 gourmet guide as featuring excellent cooking and exquisite wines. The English patisserie is run by a Mr Douglas – the guy who wrote the guide was not impressed with ginger beer and “ses petits pâtés d'huîtres”, saying M. Achard in the rue de Grammont is way better. The passage Delorme is also full of fashionable boutiques. And this is probably a sign that everyone is doomed – if fashionable Paris is not taking the “revolution” seriously, and cavalry is massed on the place du Palais-Royal, I can't really predict a victory.

This whole chapter screams “barricade tourism”. Hugo did it. Herzen did it. It was the thing for bourgeois leftists to do – go check out what the students and workers were up to and hope not to get shot. It actually reminds me of how Alexander Herzen got brought home by the cops during the June Days because he was touring barricades and had left his passport at the house – they marched him home so he could prove who he was, otherwise they were going to haul him off to jail. For the real participants, there should be no image of darkness and isolation; none of them should be wandering around alone. Marius, because his motive is not to join them for political reasons, is more of an outsider than even the tourists such as Hugo and Herzen. They were intellectuals who did not stand on barricades, the intelligentsia looking at what the people made of their words, but at least they were outright sympathetic (at times – I speak of Hugo, here, who kept waffling back and forth when confronted with actual rather than theoretical armed resistance). The tourists have sympathy; Marius has nothing better to do than to die, so he's just wandering the darkened streets not caring if someone decides to shoot him as an intruder. He gets shot at, but eh, whatever. It didn't hit him, so he'll just keep wandering, no better than the horses. At least we're so busy following his route we don't have to listen to him angst.

Chapter 2
“every last bourgeois felt it” - the suspense in waiting for the decisions of the morning. Except not every last bourgeois actually gave a damn, as some of them are eating pastries in the rue de Rivoli. And some others are surely at the Gaieté, since Hugo was previously conflating 1832 and 1839. These descriptions also are likely from1839, 1848, and possibly other years. Having already seen the people who don't care, it's hard to get worked up about the clash of civilisations Hugo's trying to set up at the end of this chapter. It isn't exactly a fight to the death between people vs. bourgeoisie if large portions of the bourgeoisie aren't scared enough to go home.

Chapter 3
We have gone on a tour of Paris under revolution, and now we settle in to watch Marius angst. *facepalm* Marius, someone on a barricade somewhere has your father's sword if it turned up in a junk shop. It hasn't been somehow saved from civil war. Col Pontmercy was lucky he wasn't sent to the Vendée, but he would have gone had he been sent, because he was a soldier. He isn't somehow better for having avoided the internal conflicts. (Is this why he wasn't in Spain? Hugo knew those internal contacts too well from his father's experience?)

Marius, I don't like being in your head. It's a scary place, where honour is so thoroughly distorted that it has become dishonour. This is the time you break your word, you numbskull! You were idiot enough to tell Cosette you would die if she left; well, shouldn't you live just to serve her right? Your father would think you a moron, I'm sure, and despise your want of courage to take any action other than weeping; Cosette herself would do more right now if she were here.

The justifications are just that – justifications. Not good reasons, just what he can come up with on the spur of the moment for qualms he should never have had in the first place. I also think, as this goes on, it's Hugo speaking for himself rather than in the guise of his character. The arguments that “mobs can be led” and “parce que [because] Bourbon” are equally applicable to Louis-Napoleon. “France always takes the initiative” is a call to action, in that case, both for Marius against Louis-Philippe and for France against Louis-Napoleon.

And the the final paragraph brings us back to what is actually going on, as opposed to Hugo (sort of as Marius) justifying the move from tourist to participant. This should be our last look as a tourist, since Marius is stepping across the threshold, so to speak, into the barricade itself.

Some notes:
Montmirail; Champaubert: Both battles of the Six Days Campaign, February 1814 (Champaubert then Montmirail), in which the French did win a series of tactical victories against the Prussian and Russian armies, but these wins were not enough to turn the tide of the war. So their invocation here is the desperation to keep the homeland out of foreign hands even as the foreign armies are already on French soil. These are the equivalent, then, of Leonidas against the Persians.


This sentence about “then mark with infamy Brutus, Marcel, Arnould de Blankenheim, Coligny” took me an age to parse, even after looking up the unknown names. First, we obviously have to figure out who Marcel and Arnould de Blankenheim are:

Marcel - possibly Pope Marcellus I? Some issues with the treatment of apostates.

Arnold of Blankenheim - There are a lot of results in German that I can't read and a couple of guys, at least, with the same name. I think, using the French spelling, I've got it down to this guy, killed in the Male Saint-Martin (links in French only, sadly). Basically, there was an issue in the city of Liège over rights that townspeople had won in other cities but that the leaders in Liège did not want to permit. The camp of the Church and “patricians” set fire to the meat market; the people fought back, ended up burning the cathedral wherein they had pushed back the patricians.

So Brutus is obvious; Coligny is Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre (I assume – he was killed in it); Arnould is the Male Saint-Martin. So we have saving the people from tyranny, the tyranny of the majority, the people rising against tyranny. (leaving out Marcel for the moment.) What Hugo is saying is that the motives for urban warfare are diffuse and thus the tactic of urban warfare cannot be condemned out of hand – to condemn one is to condemn all, the perpetrators, the victims, the heroes.

Ambiorix – Gaulish leader whose resistance to Caesar's army is the subject of his Gallic Wars

Artevelde - 14th century Flemish leader

Marnix – Dutch Reformation writer (and cryptographer!)

Pelagius – Visigothic nobleman credited with beginning the Reconquista (wow, Victor, that's ended up a nasty reference in the modern era)

Prometheus Bound – the play by Aeschylus (somehow I misread it three time as Prometheus Unbound, by Shelley, and was wondering when it had appeared in French translation *facepalm*). The Prometheus of Prometheus Bound is in revolt against Zeus for self-less reasons, acting as he does solely to save and advance mankind. In this formulation, Zeus is a tyrannical would-be mass murder. Therefore, Aristogeiton, assassinating the tyrant, is the follower of Prometheus' act. Other portrayals of Prometheus take a different tack than Aeschylus, giving reverence to the god and not to the titan who defied him.

Thrasybulus – Democratic Athenian general who fought and won against the Thirty Tyrants after the Peloponnesian War (sadly, this is making sense to me only thanks to Mary Renault – it's the period covered by The Last of the Wine).
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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