5.9 Suprême ombre, suprême aurore 27/8/11-1/9/11

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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5.9 Suprême ombre, suprême aurore 27/8/11-1/9/11

Postby Charlette-Ollie » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:15 pm

Volume 5: Jean Valjean, book 9: Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn

Chapters:

1. Pity for the unhappy, but indulgence for the happy/Pitié pour les malheureux, mais indulgence pour les heureux
2. The last flickerings of the exhausted lamp/Dernières palpitations de la lampe sans huile
3. A pen is heavy to him who liften Fauchevelent's cart/Une plume pèse à qui soulevait la charrette Fauchelevent
4. A bottle of ink which serves only to whiten/Bouteille d'encre qui ne réussit qu'à blanchir
5. Night behind which is dawn/Nuit derrière laquelle il y a le jour
6. Grass hides and rain blots out/L'herbe cache et la pluie efface

Valjean, separated from Cosette, is starving himself. With failing strength, he begins to write a letter to Cosette to tell her about how he made her fortune. Meanwhile, Thénardier approaches Marius for money in exchange for information about Jean Valjean's history. Marius believed that Valjean had robbed Monsieur Madeline and murdered Javert, but Thénarder informs him of the truth, and produces evidence of a more recent crime: a piece of the coat worn by a body Valjean was found carrying through the sewers. The scrap belongs to Marius' coat and, all things revealed, Marius rushes with Cosette to Valjean. They arrive just in time for his last moments, beautiful and bittersweet, and Valjean finds peace at last.

That concludes our read-through! I know most, if not all of us, have not been keeping to schedule. I know I've only read my books, so basically a third overall. It's been great fun, though, and when people have new thoughts I'm sure these threads will come in useful. I'd like to thank MmeBahorel for all her footnotes, from which we've learned many cool things. I would wish everyone a happy reading, but that's rather difficult when you're crying over the description of Valjean's tombstone.

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Re: 5.6 Suprême ombre, suprême aurore 27/8/11-1/9/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:41 pm

Last set of notes! (or, well, last set of Rosa's notes - I may have more of my own later)

Livre IX

Chapitre 4
1 (the baron Thénard): Baron et savant chimiste (1777-1857), membre de l'Académie des sciences depuis 1810.
Baron and chemist (1777-1857), member of the Academy of Sciences since 1810.

2 (the coat of a statesman): Habit bien choisi pour un homme que le narrateur avait ainsi défini : << Thénardier était un homme d'État >> (II, 3, 2).
Coat well-chosen for a man whom the narrator had thus defined: “Thénardier was a statesman” (II, 3, 2).

3 (a village called La Joya): Ce lieu sinistre, qui porte un nom si joyeux, se trouve – s'il doit se trouver quelque part – entre Colombie et Venezuela, autrement dit dans la patrie de Bolivar.
This sinister place, which has such a joyous name, is found – if it should be found anywhere – between Colombia and Venezuela, otherwise known as Bolivar's homeland.

4 (already saw on another page of this book): C'était Montparnasse qui les portait en IV, 6, 2 ; échange normal entre l'à peu près gendre et l'à peu près beau-père.
It was Montparnasse wearing them in IV, 6, 2; natural exchange between the near-son-in-law and near-father-in-law.

5 (Thénarder, one recalls): Voir III, tout le huitième livre.
See III, all of the 8th book. [Le Mauvais pauvre/The Noxious Poor]

6 (second volume of this book): Les références sont celles de l'édition reproduite. Dans la présente : II, 2, 1 pour Le Drapeau blanc et V, 5, 5 pour Le Moniteur, cité indirectement.
The references are those of the reprinted edition. In the present: II, 2, 1 for The White Flag [Drapeau blanc] and V, 5, 5, for the Monitor, cited indirectly.

7 (Thénardier became a slave trader): Thénardier se fait négrier en 1833. Lorsque le livre paraît, en 1862, la guerre de Sécession est engagée depuis plus d'un an. Signe du << Progrès >>.
Thénardier became a slave trader in 1833. When the book appeared, in 1862, the War of Secession [American Civil War] had gone on for more than a year. Sign of “Progress”.

Chapitre 5
8 (he sacrificed himself. There is a man.): Cette formule évangélique a déjà été employée : pour désigner Champmathieu (I, 7, 9 et note 13), et pour intituler un des chapitres du gamin (III, 1, 10).
This evangelical formula was already employed: to designate Champmathieu (I, 7, 9 and note 13) [This man, this was the man.] and to title one of the gamin chapters (III, 1, 10) [Ecce Paris, Ecce Homo].

Chapitre 6
9 (all of a sudden soak one's feet): Hugo reprend ici un propos de Thénardier prononcé, sur un autre ton, en III, 8, 6.
Hugo takes up here a proposition of Thenardier's, made, in another tone, in III, 8, 6. [The Wild Man in His Lair]

10 (when day is done [final poem]): La << source >> de ces quatre vers pourrait bien se trouver dans une expérience vécue – et arrangée – par Hugo lui-même. Il raconte dans Le Rhin (Lettre XX – et ce chiffre n'est pas laissé au hasard) comment il découvre, dans une ruine, une tombe mystérieuse représentant un homme décapité, avec une inscription latine << lugubre >> où se distinguent trois << X >> << détachés du reste de l'inscription par la grandeur des majuscules >>, et sur laquelle aucun nom n'est écrit. Il comprend qu'il s'agit d'un condamné à mort dont la tombe, comme celle de tous les condamnés à mort, respecte la tradition séculaire de ne pas inscrire le nom. Sa réflexion est alors interrompue par trois jeunes filles, dont une, charmante, nommée Stella, qui lisent sans la comprendre l'épitaphe et partent chercher leur père pour qu'il la leur explique. Victor Hugo remarque à ce moment, sur la pierre tombale, une tache de plâtre ; il prend un crayon et, << sur cette page blanche >>, écrit la traduction de l'inscription :
Dans la nuit la voix s'est tue.
L'ombre éteignit le flambeau.
Ce qui manque à la statue
Manque à l'homme en son tombeau.
Ententant la vois des jeunes filles qui reviennent, il disparaît avant leur retour, laissant sur lui le même mystère dont demeure entouré l'homme enterré là.
La méditation qui suit redouble la signification du quatrain anonyme et éphémère : << Je n'ai rien su non plus du mystériux chevalier décapité. Triste destinée ! Quel crime avait donc commis ce misérable ? Les hommes lui avaient infligé la mort, la providence y a ajouté l'oubli. Ténèbres sur ténèbres. Sa tête a été retranchée de la statue, son nom de la légende, son histoire de la mémoire des hommes. Sa pierre sépulchrale elle-même va sans doute bientôt disaparaître. >>

The source of these four lines could well be found in an experience lived – and arranged – by Hugo himself. He recounts in The Rhine (Letter XX [English: story begins p. 164]– and this number was not left to chance) how he discovered in a ruin a mysterious tomb representing a decapitated man, with a “lugubrious” Latin inscription where three X's are distiguished “detached from the rest of the inscription by the grandeur of capital letters”, and on which no name is written. He understands that it is about the condemned man whose tomb this is, as those of all condemned men respect the secular tradition to not inscribe the name. His reflection is then interrupted by three young girls of which a charming one was named Stella, who read without understanding the epitaph and leave in search of their father so he can explain it to them. Victor Hugo notices at this moment, on the tomb's stone, a plaster patch [blot?]; he takes a pencil and, “on this blank page”, write the translation of the inscription:
In the night the voice is silent.
The shadow extinguishes the torch.
Who misses the statue
The man in his tomb misses.
Hearing the voices of the young girls who are coming back, he disappears before their return, leaving around him the same mystery that lingers around the man buried there.
The meditation that follows redoubles the significance of the anonymous and ephemeral quatrain: “I knew nothing more of the mysterious beheaded knight. Sad destiny! What crime had this wretch thus committed? Men had inflicted death on him, providence had added forgetting. Shadows upon shadows. His head had been cut off from the statue, his name from legend, his history from the memory of men. His sepulchral stone itself will without doubt soon disappear.”
[Trying to identify castles in the Rhine valley is a pain in the ass. There are a ton of them – Hugo lists 14 on the left bank alone, including some that later publications say are the same thing, i.e., Vogtsberg is the proper name for Rheinstein according to one late 19th c. author. Falkenberg is a later name for Reichenstein, but both names are listed as separate castles in multiple publications, including Hugo's The Rhine. So I cannot determine if these ruins still stand, or if these ruins were recovered, as Reichenstein was rebuilt as a hunting lodge.]
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 5.9 Suprême ombre, suprême aurore 27/8/11-1/9/11

Postby Ulkis » Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:31 pm

And one last, "Denny totally just made that up" translation for chapter 4: "Marius receives a letter".

I got to admit, I did have to think for a couple of minutes about the meaning of "A bottle of ink which serves only to whiten". :oops:

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Re: 5.9 Suprême ombre, suprême aurore 27/8/11-1/9/11

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:00 am

I've got to catch up on half the book.

But I was intrigued by Valjean's letter explaining his work to Marius and Cosette. Where did Hugo get the details/inspiration for the business that Valjean was describing? Did anyone really do that in actual history?
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 5.9 Suprême ombre, suprême aurore 27/8/11-1/9/11

Postby Ulkis » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:23 pm

Aurelia! Nice to see your name. Hope your studies are going well.

I have no idea, although I assume he based the work on something, so probably.

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Re: 5.9 Suprême ombre, suprême aurore 27/8/11-1/9/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:36 pm

If you go back to 1.5, there's a reference in the notes to where you can look up Hugo's actual research on the manufacture of false jet, which he did himself rather than strictly copying from an existing publication.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 5.9 Suprême ombre, suprême aurore 27/8/11-1/9/11

Postby humanracer » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:22 pm

Useless fact of the day...
Hugo added a paragraph to chapter 4 of this book where he explains that Thénardier did not hear Baron Pontmercy's full name at the battle of Waterloo. This was to explain the plot hole of why Thénardier waited so long to try and defraud the Pontmercy family. The early English translations by Wilbour and Wraxall miss the paragraph. The translations by Hapgood, Rose and Donougher include it. FMA misses the paragraph, despite it being an up to date translation. The correction was available in the French texts from 1881 onwards.


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