4.15 La rue de l'Homme-Armé 23/6/11-26/6/11

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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4.15 La rue de l'Homme-Armé 23/6/11-26/6/11

Postby Charlette-Ollie » Thu Jun 23, 2011 4:30 pm

Volume 4: The Idyll in the Rue Plumet and the Epic of the Rue Saint-Denis, book 15: La rue de l'Homme-Armé/The Rue de l'Homme-Armé


1. Buvard, bavard/Blotter, blabber
2. Le gamin ennemi des lumières/The gamin an enemy of light
3. Pendant que Cosette et Toussaint dorment/While Cosette and Toussaint sleep
4. Les excès de zèle de Gavroche/The excess of Gavroche's zeal

Valjean, Cosette and Toussaint have left the rue Plumet for the rue de l'Homme-Armé. That night, Valjean discovers Cosette's note to Marius: she left her blotter open, and he sees the reversed text reflected in a mirror. He manages to intercept Gavroche's message for Cosette and then, emotionally torn, decides to head to the barricades. Gavroche, on his journey back to the fight, has a bit of excitement trying to procure a cart for the barricade.

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Re: 4.15 La rue de l'Homme-Armé 23/6/11-26/6/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:03 am

Livre 15

Chapitre 2
1 (pastry shops vulgarly called “brioches”): Gavroche confirme ici sa qualité de << gamin de lettres >>. En familier des théâtres, il emploie la langue des coulisses. Cette expression est en effet relevée comme telle par Du Mersan dans son Journal des dames et des modes (1823) avec le sens de bévue. Le même Du Mersan (ou Dumersan) était l'auteur d'un vaudeville joué en 1830, Les Brioches à la mode, parodiant les << perles >> romantiques contemporaines.
Gavroche here confirms his rank as “gamin of letters”. In his familiarity with the theatres, he uses the language of the wings. This expression is in effect accepted like the one by Du Mersan in his Journal of Ladies and Fashions (1823) with the sense of a blunder. The same Du Mersan (or Dumersan) was the author of a vaudeville performed in 1830, The Fashionable Brioches [or The English Pastry Chef], parodying the contemporary romantic “pearls”. [There's a brief extract here, and it seems the English Pastry Chef was named Walter Scott. It comes up in discussions of parodies of Hernani.]

Chapitre 4
2 (these incendiary couplets): Annoncée, par antiphrase partielle, comme << incendiaire >>, cette chanson galante qui, brusquement, fait rimer << charmille >> avec << Bastille >>, donne déjà le ton des Chasnson des rues et des bois – dont beaucoup sont écrites à cette date. Le dernier nom féminin cité, Stella, renvoie à Châtiments (VI, 15).
Announced, by partial antiphrasis, as “incendiary”, this romantic song that, brusquely, makes “charmille” [arbour] rhyme with “Bastille”, gives already the tone of the Songs of Streets and Woods – of which many were written at this date. The last female name cited, Stella, refers to Chastisements (VI, 15).
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 4.15 La rue de l'Homme-Armé 23/6/11-26/6/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:22 am

Book 15

Chapter 1
The chapter title is sort of a pun on the one-vowel difference in the words for “blotter” (buvard) and “chatterbox” or “gossip” (bavard). The Julie Rose version (Blotter, blabber) is a bit coarse to my ear but is definitely the only version I've seen that keeps the pun anything close to intact. (FMA use “The Blotter Talks”, which sounds a lot more dramatic than the more accurate “The Talkative Blotter”.)

There are villages called Barneville in the Calvados, Eure, and Manche departments. My guess is that Hugo means the Barneville-sur-Mer part of modern Barneville-Carteret in the Manche, directly on the channel, near Cherbourg. The 1831 census counted 1, 083 inhabitants; the other two Barnevilles have no stats before the 1960s. In any case, Toussaint comes from Normandy, and that is the implication in her accent and mindset.

7, rue de l'Homme Armé doesn't exist – the highest odd number is 5, even number is 4. It is one of the narrowest and ugliest streets in Paris, according to the Dictionnaire Historique, and the authors do not know the origin of the name. Courfeyrac and Gillenorman, by contrast, have real addresses. Probably nothing to read into it, but it is a curious detail. It's also in the old Jewish quarter – the synagogue was on the rue Saint-Avoye, which is the next street west from the rue de l'Homme Armé.

I love the phrase “some cold chicken that, in deference to her father, Cosette consented to look at.”

Valjean's initial reactions have to be of two-fold betrayal. First, he is running from the law and Cosette has given some unknown person their location, a physical betrayal of the security he has tried to set up. Second, this unknown person is addressed as “my beloved”, which means Valjean is no longer the only person in Cosette's heart and thus the emotional betrayal as well. Hugo goes on about the emotional side, but I can't help thinking about the way Valjean's security system has been breached. For someone in Valjean's position, that has to be mingled with his emotional disappointment.

Ok, Hugo, wow. This is way more interesting when applied to you than when applied to Valjean. “as he had never had either lover or wife, as nature is a creditor who accepts no protest, that sentiment, too, the most indestructible of all, was mingled with the others, vague, ignorant, pure with the purity of blindness, unconscious, celestial, angelic, divine; less like a sentiment than an instinct, less like an instinct than an attraction, imperceptible and invisible, but real”. Are these lines for Adèle, Juliette, or both? It's interesting that the overwhelming, permanent, grounded-in-nature sentiment is for the wife or lover, not for the daughter – Léopoldine is pushed aside here, in the very place where the father-daughter sentiment should be.

In leaving the rue Plumet, on the Left Bank, for the rue de l'Homme Armé, not very far from the hôtel de ville or Saint-Merry, Valjean has accidentally ended up very close to the thick of the fighting. Rue Plumet would have been quiet and safer for the next few days. Saint-Merry is rather in between the rue de l'Homme Armé and the barricade in the rue de la Chanvrerie, on the opposite side of the major thoroughfare of the rue Saint-Denis.

Chapter 2
There is no church of Saint-Paul in Paris at this time – Hugo may be confusing Saint-Louis-et-Saint-Paul. And if Valjean is hearing anything in the direction of Les Halles, remember that Saint-Merry is between him and what we're talking about, though a couple blocks further south. Whatever is actually heared will probably depend on what is going on at Saint-Merry.

The Archives at the “end of the street” are really in the rue du Chaume, which follows on from the rue de l'Homme Armé north of where the street crosses the rues des Blancs-Manteaux. Which is interesting when you consider he goes back this way to break lamps. Either he knows the neighbourhood when making the reference to the Archives or he was getting his errand out of the way before making the rue du Chaume comply with the darkness of the “provisional government”.

It's a cute exchange between Gav and Valjean, but one that would certainly make a person of the period uneasy. A homeless kid going on about the “provisional government”, playing at delivering dispatches when he's really delivering a love letter, is only cute when you don't live in a society where upheavals have been happening relatively frequently, borne along by people like this.

Chapter 3
Valjean has caught the most important point of Marius' over-angsty letter, at least, the very part no one should have read because it shouldn't have been written in the first place!

Valjean, you just have to let events take their course, give Cosette the letter in the morning, pretend never to have read it, and then she'll have some closure (creepy as it is) over “that man” instead of thinking he has just disappeared. You're better off delivering the letter in the morning the way Marius thinks will happen. Hiding the letter is a crappy solution, and you know this, which is why you aren't even letting events take their course.

I'm curious about the musket. I assume Valjean left his at the rue Plumet, as the doorkeeper had to scrounge this one up. Is it someone's hunting gun, or is it someone else's official musket that they aren't using because they aren't actually going out, either? How does this work, calling up the National Guard in a crisis like this? And is Valjean's neighbour not being called up because the inner city regiment isn't to be trusted in these matters, the suburban regiments called in instead?

Chapter 4
Gav's song is full of references. So far as I can tell on a quick search, the women are ingenue characters for the most part, but some have overtones of sexual availability within their source texts (contrast Atala with Lise, for example).

Atala: Novel by Chateaubriand about “noble savages” in the New World. Atala is the girl who attempts to save the life of the man she's in love with, but having made a vow of chastity, kills herself rather break that vow by marrying him.

Mila: Ingenue character in Chateaubriand's Les Natchez, which follows the guy Atala was in love with.

Orfila: Considered the founder of toxicology, he was professor of forensic pathology, made a dean of the medical school in Paris in 1831 and made the big push for the construction of the Clamart dissecting rooms in 1832. (I want to set Combeferre up with him.)

Agnès: Ingenue in Molière's School for Wives

Paméla: From Richardson's novel, popular in France almost immediately upon publication.

Lise: Title character in La Fille mal gardée.

Zéila: used frequently in the first third of the century in “oriental” tales. I can't identify one that seems to be more popular than another.

Suzette: Too common to place. Same with Jeanne.

Lola: The setting is pre-Lola Montez but Hugo's writing is not, so I'm wondering. There's nothing earlier on, not a single reference between 1800 and 1830 for the first name Lola.

Stella: There's a tragedy by Goethe, but the name is also used in Latin poetry as well as Hugo's use of it in Châtiments.

Gav is not only literate, he has better spelling than his father (cart, “charrette”, is the sort of word that might trip up Thénardier). This coheres with the “printer's apprentice” story in IV, 11, 1, but it certainly begs the question of who taught him. I assume Mme T taught her daughters – did Éponine at some point teach her brother? Mme T wouldn't have bothered.

I'm a little confused on the geography here. According to the map, you come up (north) the rue du Chaume, make a left into the rue des Vielles-Haudriettes. On your right as you came up the rue du Chaume, you pass the Archives, which are connected to the Imprimerie royale. Thus, Gav walked right past the National Guard post, picked up the cart somewhere to the west (left) of the Imprimerie Royale, and to get back to the barricade, he'd continue heading away from the Imprimerie Royale. For him to come face to face with the soldiers, they'd either have to swing around the block quickly to out flank him where the rue Saint-Avoye becomes the rue du Temple, or Gav was heading away from where he needs to go.

Ok, why did FMA just change the whole meaning of Gav's crack? “Vous devriez vendre tous vos cheveux à cent francs la pièce. Cela vous ferait cinq cent francs.” You should sell all your hair for a hundred francs francs each, that'd give you five hundred francs. They changed it to teeth instead of hair. Why? That's worse than Denny randomly deleting stuff. Also, he's “fetching the doctor” for his “wife” who is “in labour”, not just “in bed”. Gav probably runs up the rue du Temple and over the rue Pastorelle to end up in the rue des Enfants-Rouges. It's really just heading around a fairly large block, unless he goes up another block and comes round the other end of the Enfants-Rouges, from the rue Portefoin. But there's no real zigzag to throw off the soldiers if he only gets that far away. If he goes the other direction, which would permit a zigzag, that would have him rolling the cart away from the direction of the barricade and make sense only if he were retracing his steps back down through the rue du Chaume. The soldiers are total Keystone Cops in any case, though, so in a way it doesn't matter whether Gav's plan for the cart makes sense. These guys are so worthless, the whole scene is a comedy sketch instead of a suspenseful midnight revolutionary adventure. While a break in the suspense is nice, I suppose, I would have preferred a more frightening, competent, set of soldiers, or at least not one that is hilariously inept.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 4.15 La rue de l'Homme-Armé 23/6/11-26/6/11

Postby Ulkis » Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:54 am

(FMA use “The Blotter Talks”, which sounds a lot more dramatic than the more accurate “The Talkative Blotter”.)

Denny is even more dramatic - his translation is "The Treacherous Blotter".

I love the phrase “some cold chicken that, in deference to her father, Cosette consented to look at.”

Me too! I didn't know it said that - at first I thought that Denny made it sound like Cosette did come down and eat it, but I looked at it again and he doesn't say that she eats it, but it loses its humor the way he translated - "At about five o'clock Toussaint, who had been busy all day putting things to rights, set a dish of cold chicken on the table and Cosette deigned to attend the meal, out of deference to her father."

I also really liked the part where Gavroche examines the 5 franc piece. "He knew of them by reputation", heh.

And yeah, the keystone cops/guards thing is silly, but I find it amusing anyway that the guy's cart got destroyed and he got arrested. It reminds me of how Fauchelevent told the new gravedigger he must have left his card at his house and then he beat/frightened his family looking for it. Although I suppose it's implied that the cart man is less than innocent since he was drunk (although I know we don't know for sure) but I like the quick we look we get at the unintended consequence our main characters have for others.

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