Finally catching up a bit!
: Hugo citing him as the origin for the tradition of throwing shoes at the newly married couple is crap – like most wedding traditions, there seem to be various explanations, many of which predate the English Restoration. (Snopes
pulls as far back as Anglo-Saxon ritual.)
Hugo is right on the expansion of English wedding traditions into France during his lifetime, however – an outgrowth of the fashion for all things English. By the 1860s, honeymoon package holidays to Italy or Switzerland were on offer. He can be a curmudgeon all he likes, but he is right on the fact that things changed a lot in thirty years.
I'm actually not sure what Hugo means by “And they had the audacity to be married at home” - legally, the couple must appear at the town hall for the civil ceremony, and usually they would have the religious ceremony at their parish church. This is contrary to English and American custom where the religious ceremony was the civil ceremony and was conducted either in the home or in the parish church. And as we see, Marius and Cosette go to the town hall and to the church for these ceremonies that legally and religiously constitute the marriage.
The marriage is going forward under the law of community property. This means that Cosette is being given absolutely no legal protection of her 584,000 franc dowry, which upon marriage will be wholly in Marius' name and under Marius' control. This is a bad idea for any number of reasons, so while it is certainly being done this way so that the law is as simple as possible, it shows a hell of a lot of trust for Marius and a general disregard for Cosette's future welfare. Should there ever be a reason Marius would have to declare bankruptcy, he will have run through all of Cosette's money; had there been a strong marriage contract, they would be able to live off Cosette's money, which would be separate from whatever Marius had lost, and therefore would always have this chunk to fall back on. It's to Gillenormand's benefit to say nothing, but a marriage without a strong contract is rare when these sums are involved and should be suspicious. Is it also perhaps a sign of Valjean's working-class background? As mayor, these contracts had nothing to do with him. They were drawn up by notaries as individual contracts between the parties to the marriage. He may never have seen one in full and thus not realise all the clauses that are for valid protection rather than a result of a lack of trust between the parties.
Pantaloon, Harlequin, and Gilles [Paillaisse, Pantalon et Gilles]: Commedia dell'arte characters - Arlecchino
(here “Paillaisse”, which could also mean a general clown, but Arlecchino is the most famous of the clown roles), Pantalone
, and Pierrot
, the French adaptation of Pedrolino
. (“Gilles” seems to be a lower adaptation of Pierrot, often confused as the costuming is the same – the masquers here being lower class, it may be that Hugo is referring to their Pierrot costuming as “Gille”.) Commedia dell'arte was the basis for many classic comedies (Regnard was proficient in it, Molière used the stock characters) and was still common for comic movement performances particularly at carnival season. (Remember the English Punch and Judy also derives from commedia dell'arte.)
When Hugo says there's no carnival like this anymore, he's sort of right. Many of the grand traditions had fallen apart (or were not actually very long-lived) by 1862. But there were things going on in the 1820s and 1830s that didn't exist before then, so he's not regretting a lapsed tradition so much as just “the good old days” of his own youth.
“peculiar to Mardi Gras as well as to Longchamps” - Longchamp
is the race course, patronised by very fashionable people of the Second Empire.
The Boeuf Gras (translated by FMA as Fat Ox) is a major float/effigy/occasional real cow at or close to the centre of Carnival celebrations around the world, predominantly but not only in French-speaking regions. The Promenade of the Boeuf Gras in Paris
has an entire very long and detailed article on Wikipedia (only in French, unfortunately). The Boeuf Gras isn't a famous Mardi Gras crewe; it's an ancient custom pretty much at the centre of Mardi Gras.
) is a French festival 21 days after Mardi Gras. Also known as the fête des blanchisseuses, it's a working-class women's festival.Cassandre
(wiki French only) is a male commedia dell'arte character, an old man usually functioning as the father of Columbine.
What FMA render as “chariot of Thespis” should be “wagon of Thespis
”, as he is apparently the inventor of the touring company, nothing warlike that would merit a chariot. You need a wagon to carry costumes and sets
Hugo can go on all he wants about public women and degradation here, but he's so condescending about it. He loves the people except when they act like human beings who want a little entertainment now and again. The government pays so it can control it, otherwise it would happen on its own. And it's a good thing, lowbrow entertainment of crass costumes and snarky commentary. The people entertaining themselves under the watchful eye of the government – no real need, in my mind, to equate this with the prostitution that the female masquers undoubtedly practice as their ordinary trade. Because I see it as government sanctioned rather than government organised, I see elements of agency, and I see them as a good thing. What I really want to know is Hugo's idea of a wholesome festival, as Mardi Gras masques are apparently “unwholesome” and turn “the people” into “the rabble”. Or maybe it's the distinct lack of rioting that makes me wonder what his problem is.
Cadran Bleu, Râpée: Both famous restaurants. Azelma is saying that they are probably headed to a fairly ritzy reception.
I like that Azelma is starting to assert herself a little – she's picked up some sarcasm and an ability to say no now that she no longer has Éponine's production or her mother's sympathy. Now if she would just ditch her father . . .
“So it is true. My name is Marius. I am Madame You.” I think I threw up a little in my mouth
(actually, Cosette can get away with it. Thank you, Hugo, for not putting anything like it into Marius' mouth, or I might actually have started laughing and gagging.)
Does Marius know the “flashing flame”, the ideal, the real, of the nuptial pillow thanks to Courfeyrac? Because he, unlike Hugo, has never actually taken a woman to bed. Does he have to know it because he's the man, while for Cosette, the woman, the reality of sex must be behind a cloud, deliberately hidden? Because I think Marius is rather cloud-bound, too, and not just from fanon. The whole ankle thing looms large here. Yes, they are now married, so Marius can permit himself to see her ankle though the pensioner is still firmly barred, but I just don't see his brain going “so now I get to ravish her!” Yes, Marius gets anticipation, while Cosette gets modesty, but I almost feel like their characters to this point have been shaded in the other directions, that Cosette has been all anticipation in their engagement up to now, while Marius doesn't actually know what he should be anticipating (not that she does, either – for both, I see anticipation of eternity, of the mingling of souls, rather than any physical act of sex that Hugo is now implying).
Is Marius finally starting to stare at Cosette's boobs? Courfeyrac would be proud
That chandelier is probably verging on hideous since Hugo is describing it, isn't it? I'm picturing something like this
but with birds instead of fruit.
Poor M. Gillenormand. He could never have predicted that hippies would take over patchouli so that it cannot be taken seriously anymore Daphnis and Chloe
, Philemon and BaucisVentre-saint-gris
: roughly equivalent to “Corpus christi”, a linkage of divine and earthly.
A conversation between Gillenormand and Grantaire could go on for days with them rambling at each other, couldn't it?
Yes, Victor, your soul falls into contemplation before the sanctuary of sex. It's really kind of sad to see you write like this, considering your own relationship history. Is Marius what you think you were at that time, or what you wish you were at that time?
I'm totally with Valjean here – if he had her christening dress, it's just what a mother might do on her daughter's wedding day, the whole “they grow up so fast” - but I'm distracted by the musicians sitting on the couch on which they had placed Marius. Did they have to get that thing reupholstered? I think it's best the musicians don't know what they're sitting on if not, as even today, I'd be more inclined to throw out a couch that had that much crap on it.
Anyway, back to Valjean. His lie is obvious, but his actions again place him in the role of mother rather than father. And the image of the empty beds is terribly sad and visceral – anyone who has ever moved knows how odd and naked and sad an empty bed looks.
Valjean is harder on himself than he is on anyone else. Including himself, really. He has already taken these two innocent hands in his own – by rescuing them both and giving them to each other. The shadow of the law has already fallen over the Gillenormand house, and that is entirely Marius' doing in going to the barricade. Was there a declared amnesty? (Hugo covers himself with the doctor not turning Marius in deliberate defiance of the Gisquet order, but the courts-martial not going after anyone not already in custody isn't the same as an amnesty. Marius may still be outside the law, in the same way that Valjean is outside the law: no one cares to go after him for him crime.) Anyway, Valjean has done already what he now has a horror of doing, and his actual crime, breaking parole, isn't worse than Marius' treason. There's probably a class aspect: the workingman who breaks parole is of course worse than the bourgeois who commits treason not because of the crime but because of the status of the criminal.Cato
: Unlike Brutus, Cato killed himself rather than watch Caesar take power as all Cato's political machinations had failed to stop him. So Brutus acted directly against the evil; Cato ended his life rather than use an evil act to end the evil.
And combine Valjean's sacrifice – based on possibly faulty reasoning – with Eugène Hugo's night of hell after his brother married the girl he was in love with, is creepy as hell. We're seeing a renunciation of the world, and wow, Rosa, the link you're making is icky. While Hugo did technically at one point say Cosette was equivalent to wife for Valjean, it was in the context of all forms of love, not the actual idea of marriage. This scene, with its renunciation motif that echoes the convent, again feminises Valjean's love for Cosette and in that sense removes any creepy sex bits. Which you're sort of putting back in by bringing Eugène into it.
I see this renunciation, particularly as Rosa links it to the convent, as not only feminising Valjean but also displaying his version of religious belief. He at all times selects the most chafing option – he's a hair-shirt nun, not just a good works nun. Discomfort is integral to his belief. He flagellates internally, he takes the worst of everything whenever he can as if he is continually fasting and wearing the hair shirt, he needs to suffer in order to worship. And I don't know that the Bishop would agree with it all, as there's a huge gulf between renunciation and suffering. The action he is about to perform, to set himself apart from Cosette, is suffering: it does not leave her indifferent or understanding, as a renunciation of the world should, and instead causes her to suffer as well as causes Valjean to suffer needlessly. Confusing your daughter punishes her, not just you, and going the whole “M. Jean” route rather than just buggering off is a deliberate irritation of the wound you've caused yourself and her.