l'air de Guillery – looks to be a children's song, Compère Guilleri, words and music here
. Sadly, I sidetracked into stories of the Cheval Malet
, which are awesome and actually possibly tangentially related, but I think Hugo actually means the children's song since it gave Boulatruelle the idea of climbing a tree and not whatever Vendéen ballad on Guillery (also spelled Gallery) Hugo may or may not have known.
Tityrus – the shepherd in Virgil's Ecologues
This chapter is really pretty needless to the plot, since we should have figured out long before now that Valjean was hiding money in the forest, but it does finish off Boulatruelle rather nicely. I especially like how he has decided that robbery is too risky and he should just go back to being a really drunk roadmender. It's working out for him well. It also emphasises the way in which the working classes and the dangerous classes are perceived as being the same thing – every labourer is a potential Boulatruelle, willing to trade his pick for a knife at any moment. Hugo has spent this whole book arguing for sympathy for these people rather than arguing against a characterisation it seems he believes. The vast majority of underpaid, overworked road menders were never going to join a criminal gang and attempt to hold bourgeois hostage for hefty ransom payments. Or even to mug people. But Boulatruelle is the pure emblem of this idea of working class criminality.
“In France, there is no anger, not even governmental, that six months does not extinguish. Emeutes, in the present society, are to such a degree everybody's fault that they are followed by a certain need to close the eyes.” This is kind of true. Every failed revolt ends up having an amnesty granted a few months later, and there were a lot of them.
Depending on if we take Hugo's date or his count (both numbers being important [see Rosa's notes], we can't assume which he meant), we're about two weeks before the start of Charles Jeanne's trial, so I think the four months putting us into October may be connected with that as well as the number 4 as applied to Léopoldine.
For some reason, I had turned down the corner of the page on which we have the song about Jeanne's firm breasts. I have no idea why. I am, however, fairly convinced that Cosette is going to learn some awesome new songs, much to Marius' chagrin.
Gillenormand is awesome; Marius I just want to bitchslap. He's reminding me, in this chapter and the next, of the crappy play I saw at DC Fringe this year, wherein a girl was convinced her parents hated her because she refused to see anything they did as signs of love (things like gently suggesting “here's a ball – why don't you go outside and play like you used to?”) and used this hatred to fuel other kids and convince one of them to murder his (actually abusive) parents. It's a very one-sided, holier-than-thou attitude, that what Marius has invented based on what he has seen of his grandfather in reference to a man Marius never met (really, we have some nice stories of the General from Mabeuf, but we actually know nothing of his personality – Gillenormand hates him for bad reasons, but he also may have rarely interacted with him and could, with greater acquaintance, have hated him for good reasons). Sadly, getting the crap beaten out of him hasn't shown him that there are two sides to everything, so a smack upside the head won't do any good.
It's too bad Gillenormand never did meet any of Marius' friends – Prouvaire would tell him it's perfectly OK to rant about Chenier being murdered *g*. I'm actually sort of amused that Gillenormand and Prouvaire thus share taste in poetry, though for different reasons; Gillenormand because he probably thinks everything went to hell after that and doesn't bother to read it, Prouvaire because he sees it as the origin of everything that has come after.
And Marius, I facepalm at you. Because this isn't really a tearful reconciliation, I don't think. I don't think you actually believe your grandfather has always loved you and is finally showing it but that you think you've won by nearly getting yourself killed so he feels he has to give in. Because you've prepped yourself for that battle. I suspect you still don't respect your grandfather as an individual.
Cosette is so cute; Gillenormand is so embarrassing. I love him
I also love that the narrator loves Gillenormand, repeating his misstatement of Cosette's last name/Valjean's alias.Greuze
is probably one of the last artists Gillenormand liked, as well. The Revolution brought in classicism, and Gillenormand is very much a Watteau/Fragonard kind of a guy. Village Wedding
and The Broken Jug
are my picks for what Cosette is like.
Mère Gigogne – the equivalent of the Little Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe. Often seen in the US, anyway, as “Mother Ginger” in presentations of The Nutcracker. (the fat woman with the ton of tiny children under her skirt)
Nearly 600,000 francs is a lot of money, yet there are definitely better fortunes out there, and if Marius and Cosette want to enter high society and entertain at a level befitting a Baron, they can't afford it until Mlle Gillenormand dies. Generally, this cash would be invested in land or in securities, giving a return of around 4-5% per year. That's 30,000 francs, which is hardly a small amount, but let's just say that some of Balzac's characters would find it paltry. (Goriot did 800,000 for each daughter by his own testimony, and Paul de Mannerville cannot afford to marry unless his wife can bring an income at least equal to his own 40,000 a year, preferably more to maintain country and Paris life.) It's a lot of money, but it also proves everyone is not only thoroughly bourgeois but also thoroughly outside the worlds of banking and commerce where the real fortunes are made. (Remember, Valjean's “factory” probably employed less than 20 people at a time.)
Now, assuming Mlle Gillenormand has as much again when she dies, then we're talking Balzac-impressive level.
Interesting that Valjean brings out the candlesticks only when Javert is confirmed dead. It's sweet that he kept them even after they were possibly identifiable, though it is unlikely they would have been identifiable, and bringing them out and polishing them up sort of implies that this isn't going to go well. The last time he had them on the mantle, everything eventually fell apart. Here, too, their retrieval may imply the beginning of the end.
I love that Hugo gets into the legal aspects – there are serious legal aspects here, as legally, for a marriage license, you must present your birth certificate (or a notarized letter from the local official in the case of a missing birth certificate). Valjean's going the latter route, as digging up Cosette's real birth certificate would prove her to be illegitimate. This is all entirely possibly fraud – the legal documents are legal, but they are based on deliberate falsehoods and being done in order to convince the Gillenormand family that Cosette should marry in. Except she brings all the money, so it would make for a very strange prosecution. In legitimising Cosette to the best of his ability, Valjean may be again breaking the law.
Gillenormand cracks me up. So he has stuff around here that had once belonged to many different mistresses? How did he get it back? How did those conversations go? (As I assume he, like most men, parted with his mistresses in circumstances other than death.) All the gifts are given under the traditional “corbeille”, or basket, and are, except for the fact that some are apparently returned from mistresses, traditional: “On the day the [marriage] contract was signed the bridegroom-to-be sent his fiancée a collection of traditional gifts. . . . Like the trousseau, the basket was worth about 5 percent of the value of the dowry, or approximately one year's income. It contained items of white and black lace that were passed on from generation to generation; people took great care with these items, having them repaired and cleaned when necessary. The basket also contained jewels, family heirlooms perhaps or else more modern settings; precious odds and ends such as fans, bottles, and candy boxes; fabrics; and furs.” (quoted from A History of Private Life: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War
, ed. Michelle Perrot, p. 315.)
“dress of Binche lace that had come down from his own grandmother” - if Gillenormand is 94 in 1832, then he was born in 1738. If we assume that it was from her youth (as who would give an old woman's dress to a young girl), then we're looking at c. 1718. Probably. Check out a few images at wikipedia
and at Costumer's Manifesto
. When you compare to early 1830s
, you can see where Gillenormand would get the idea that something could be done with it. You've got a more similar shape than at any point in the last forty years, and plenty of fabric to work with.
Fashion list!!! (because the nerdiness must be shared)18th Century Lace
: Alençon lace was most expensive and finest; Binche and Mechlin lace were popular until about 1750. Genoa lace
was popular for cuffs and collars in the 15th and 16th centuries. It looks like the making of fine Genoa lace died out by the beginning of the 19th century
, so this is again an antique relic of Gillenormand's family.
Bureau of coromandel lacquer – Chinese lacquer imported via India. Nice examples here
pekins – dense, somewhat stiff silk fabric in linen weave, with a high lustre and vertical relief stripes which stand out from the fabric background. Used for ladies' formal dresses. damaskslampas
– both lampas and damasks could be for dresses or for interior design
painted moires – moire fabric with painted designs (I'm seeing these in trinkets from a lot later in the century: fans
, a bookmark
, a handkerchief holder
. All after 1890.)gros de tours
– Hugo also cites “gros de Tours flambé” in Chansons des rues et des bois
. Gros de tours was often used for mourning – in fact, I keep finding American references that call it a black fabric by definition.dauphines
in the piece finished on both sides – patterned silk/wool blend heavy fabric
moire antique (added to her corbeille, NOT her trousseau, which is the linen provided by the bride's family) – moire antique is the highest quality moire, thicker fabricPhillis
– faithful, waiting, abandoned wifeStrasbourg cathedral clock
– I think they're talking about the second clock, which Hugo never saw in motion (it stopped working in 1788 and was replaced by a new clock built between 1838 and 1843). So all these things it did while going, either Hugo knew from hearsay/report, or else parts of it were left open so these were visible when the clock was stopped.
Phoebus and Phoebe – Apollo and Artemis
Charles V – Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
, with the huge chin.
Sabinus and Éponine – Gaulish general
and his wife who tried to keep him in hiding from the Romans, except when you bear two children to your supposedly dead husband, it's a little suspicious.
Palissandre - rosewood
sieur Grigou – grigou: one who, having enough to live on, pretends poverty to serve as an excuse for sordid avarice. “Sieur Grigou” comes up as a phrase in a few blog posts. Sarmatians
– to flee to the Sarmatians is to leave the lands of Greek civilisation for the wilderness of the Scythians. There's actually a random Polish connection in here, as the Polish nobility claimed descent from the Sarmatians and much of the traditional noble culture and style of dress are derived from this belief. Sarmatism declined a bit during the Enlightenment, but the Romantic era (understandably, as this was also the era of the partitioned nation) dragged it up again as cultural patrimony. So what we have here is a classical reference, but it may also be in Hugo's head what with politics and all.
(I have this whole rambling marked, too, and I don't know why!)
“Nasty neatness” - aligns with Hugo's description of the modern sewer as a hypocrite. He has a certain amount in common with M. Gillenormand beyond the love of sex with women to whom he is not married.Les Indes galantes
– opera/ballet by Rameau. A prologue and four scenes of love in exotic locales.Royer-Collard
– politician, leader of the liberal royalist “Doctrinaires” who sought a constitutional monarchy but under the legitimate royal family (you can guess that went over brilliantly with Charles X). Guizot was part of that crew. My guess is that for Gillenormand, such a political stance is giving up half ones principles for the benefits of being in government.Cathedral of Rheims
, pagoda of Chanteloup
– Charles X coronation was held at Rheims; the pagoda is the central feature of the chateau of Chanteloup, one of the many chateaux of the Loire valley. It looks nothing like a pagoda and instead might as well be the spire of St Brides, London
Prince Aldobrandini – the Aldobrandini family
was well connected in the Vatican and produced a pope and several cardinals. They also married into the Borgheses and somehow the second Borghese son takes the title of Prince Aldobrandini. I have no clue which one is being referenced here.
Amphitrite's wedding - Poseidon's wife
, a nereid
who may have been carried off (because the gods do that, you know) or may actually have been wooed by a dolphin.
Why do I think Marius won't let the little naked Saxony figure stay there very long? (also, “muff” [manchon] – in English slang, this has at various periods been used to denote a woman's vagina. I can't help reading potentially dirty things into the proximity of the actual muff and the probable naked everything if her stomach is naked, and this M. Gillenormand. I don't think it carries over into French, but this really has me wondering.)
Marius angsts, not in detail. I also find it a little creepy that Hugo seems to be characterising Cosette as the cure to Marius' PTSD (not in so many words, obviously, as I don't know what his experience with battlefield veterans may have been). Not that I'm diagnosing Marius with full on PTSD, but having seen so many of your friends killed in one night, and getting wounded in the battle yourself will do something to you – it is trauma, and I don't like that Hugo claims that “thoughts of Cosette” are the only thing that calms Marius when the trauma overtakes his memory. I see what he's getting at, I think, but I also think it's very easy to read a shallow, and also a very nineteenth century view, of the curative powers of pure womanhood into this whole thing. The charitable reading is that Marius is forcing himself to think of a happy future to blot out the traumatic past; the less charitable reading is that Cosette's purity is saving him.
I also don't like the tomb imagery, mostly because I don't like that Marius has essentially got off so easy. All was blackness and death, then he came out white, cleansed and fortunate, while everyone else is dead. It's the “il en était sorti blanc” that I don't like. Maybe because my initial reading of “white” is “cleansed”, while it could theoretically also mean “drained”, which would be more acceptable to me. Because everyone else was left behind in the blackness of death. But I read “cleansed” because of his focus on his fortune. Which isn't all that much fortune – he was never actually abandoned since he did the abandoning, he wasn't poor because he did the abandoning of his rich family, and if he'd begged a little harder the first time around, it's entirely possible he might have been marrying Cosette anyway. I see Marius' “misfortunes” as being largely his own doing, carefully selected in a way because by being miserable and poor, he was honouring his father, who left himself miserable and poor for Marius' sake. So in finally accepting what he had all along, he takes that as good fortune, and that to me means his passage through the tomb was to the good, thus to emerge “white” is to be cleansed. And he shouldn't be cleansed by this, he should be drained and muddied.
However, I do like that Marius and Valjean have a nice almost-conversation on the subject of universal free education. Marius has picked up something from his friends, even if it is the least-objectionable topic he could have brought home. (possibly why he brings it up – he sees the signs of the self-made man in “M. Fauchelevent”, but various other ideas he would have picked up from the Amis are too controversial for an unknown audience. Universal education, to a man who appears to have lacked the best education in his youth, is unlikely to encounter as much resistance as, say, extension of suffrage, where there might be a pulling up of gates behind those who have gotten theirs, so to speak.)
Marius, give up on Thenardier! You may drive me mad, sometimes, but he doesn't even deserve you!
Coming from English law, it's interesting to see a judicial system where you can be tried and sentenced to death in absentia, no chance to plead your case. It makes one think of totalitarian states. Panchaud and Demi-Liard got screwed – without a victim, there can't have been much of a case. They totally got railroaded as the courts were desperate to get someone punished for this. (also, depending on how long it took to get to trial, Javert might have been dead before he could testify, which wouldn't help the prosecution's already flimsy case.)
Marius is investigating quite thoroughly – I'm impressed.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard