We're back to “See Marius angst. Angst, Marius, angst.” I do love Grantaire's single line here, and the gorgeous mental picture – you can feel a sadness and desolation in his words. Or at least I can, probably because I've hung too much on unrequited E/R. It could be read as a quip, but the fact that he mutters it is what gives me the depressing picture instead. He isn't showing off here, just confused and disappointed himself.
I had some good taste at 16, apparently, as I marked out M'ame Bougon's “What's cheap right now?” muttering. Hugo's rather snarky comment right before it, though, is awesome.
I'm a little creeped out by Marius' thought about children, which has to be a thought of Hugo's. Death cannot be redeemed, but cannot evil lives be turned around if it is merely poverty that makes them so? Don't share that thought with your friends, Marius. It'll be worse than that Bonaparte thing, I suspect, as I think this is the evolution of Hugo's thought, from what Marius says here to his more revolutionary sentiments of the thread of the novel.
“Six months of love and happiness under the trees of the Luxembourg.” SIX MONTHS? Where in the hell are six months coming from? Marius' delusions? Is he counting his months of delicious angst at not seeing Cosette?
The phrase at the end is “une voix de vieux homme enroué d'eau-de-vie et de rogome.” The voice of an old man hoarse with brandy and booze. “Rogomme” is a “popular” term for “eau-de-vie ou autre liqueur forte”.
Yeah, Éponine is definitely coming on to him, very awkwardly, and in a manner that makes a reading of her father's “my daughter is at your disposal” plausible.
I just find it interesting that the French for “peephole” is “judas”. A security measure that can be construed as slighty naughty in English is, in French, named for the greatest betrayal ever.
“Le désespoir est entouré de cloison fragile qui donnent toutes sur le vice ou sur le crime.” Despair is surrounded by fragile walls which all open onto vice or crime. This, again, is very much Hugo's point in the novel, that only fragile walls separate the working from the dangerous classes. (But then we spend all this time with the Thénardiers, and we just had a whole chapter describing Patron-Minette as pure evil. Éponine is a victim; Parnasse is not. Why? Is it because Parnasse never tried to work honestly? We never see Éponine make the attempt. We see how incredibly difficult it is to work honestly in a future chapter, but we don't see her actually try. Thenardier himself we see sort of trying – he at least has a legitimate business when we meet him in Montfermeil. But he is pretty much pure evil, born to it rather than pushed into it like Valjean. So what we have here is a beautiful statement of the difficulty of keeping a family through honest labour, in the middle of a condemnation of those eschew the attempt. So what is Hugo doing here? This appears to be related to his use of the word 'misérable'.)
But at least Marius finally has a clue knocked into his bourgeois head. Though would an ordinary charitable man be living in a room in the Gorbeau house? Marius didn't cause any prolongation of misery; anyone else only able to pay the meagre rent Marius pays would have been able to do nothing for his neighbours. It's sort of another excuse for Marius to angst. And he proves, again, that he's better at stalking than at speaking to people. Instead of going next door to meet his neighbours, he decides to spy on them through the hole in the wall. Well done, Marius.
“d'ailleurs il y a un point où les infortunés et les infâmes se mêlent et se confondent dans un seul mot, mot fatal, les misérables; de qui est-ce la faute ?” Besides, there is a point when the unfortunate and the infamous are asociated and confused in a word, a fatal word, les misérables; whose fault is it?
To quote again, extensively, from Chevalier (p. 95-98):
“The major example of this [shedding of depreciatory impliciations] is the word 'misérables', which carries on the development we have already noted throughout the writing of the book and completesit in expressing fully and simply that complex relationship between the laboring classes and the dangerous classes which poses one of the most important problems in the social history of Paris, just as those problems are the real subject of the novel. At the final stage in this development, the word 'misérables' did not even denote, as at earlier periods, one or another of the social categories distinguished as sharply as at the Last Judgment or in Littré's definitions – the criminal on the one hand, the unfortunate on the other. It was to apply more and more often and more and more entirely to those who were simultaneously, or at any rate to some degree, both unfortunate and criminal; to those on the uncertain and continually changing borderline between poverty and crime. T was no longer to denote two different conditions but the passage from one to the other, the social deterioration we are discussing: an intermediary and fluctuating situation rather than a status. It is the internal development of a word which, though itself remaining unchanged, reflects a development of the facts and of opinion concerning them as precisely as any detailed description of the phenomenon itself. The development has its difficulties, however, because of an inherent contradiction: whereas the author was more and more sharply aware of a social development for which he had to use the traditional and necessary terminology, that terminology became steadily more and more inappropriate owing to the older usage. . . .
“It is clear that in works before, or even after, 1848, Hugo did not habitually use the word 'misérables' in the sense which hew as nevertheless beginning to give it. The chapters dating from this first period enable the historian to experience the condition of the misérables far more precisely than Hugo himself supposed; indeed, the more precisely and usefully in that such was not his intention. There is a very great contrast between the importance of the evidence concerning the condition of the 'misérables' and the continuing ambiguity of a word by which Hugo had not yet succeeded in denoting a condition he had nevertheless already described. The 'misérables' were still criminal more often than unfortunate.”
Chevalier goes on to note the Thénardiers as showing a stress more on crime than on poverty, while the original title, Les Misères, at the time, “seemed to denote misfortune at least as much, if not more, than crime and the content of the word 'misérables' still seemed to be criminal only.”
He then goes on to describe Hugo's use of the word 'misère' in the Legislative Assembly in 1849, in particular a debate on 9 July of that year, a debate on whether or not 'misère' can be eradicated. “It was a curious and important sitting because of its testimony to the lag between the development of the facts and the general awareness of them, on the one hand, and the development of the words, on the other; because of the experience it provided of the way in which new and peremptory facts had to be cast in the mold of old words an how hard it was to do this; and because the facts, dominating and finally annexing the words, ultimately won out, as my be seen in Hugo's reply, a final improvisation in which the word 'misérables' takes on its full meaning: 'suffering cannot disappear; 'la misère' must disappear. There will always be some unfortunates, but it is possible that there may not always be 'misérables'.' Here the official record noted: 'Hear, hear! On the left. Ironical laughter elsewhere in the House.'
“The fact takes possession of the word and, conversely, the existence of the word makes for total awareness of the fact summed up and illustrated by it. 'Les Misérables' was henceforth the title of the work which Hugo announced in 1854 as forthcoming. But the word was still used to denote the criminal classes in the chapters drafted in 1860 and after: 'More than one wayfarer lay in the shadow of this villain [misérable] . . . ,' Hugo wrote of the bandit Montparnasse. But the term was increasingly used for the laboring and unfortunate classes, and when it happened to denote the dangerous classses, it was used to stress their pitiable rather than their formidable aspects.” Valjean himself will be called a “misérable” in the scene where he and Cosette observe the chain gang.
“Thus, the development in the word, Hugo's lng hesitation about its predominating significance, and his inability to explain clearly what he meant by 'misère' and 'misérable' when he had already written much of his novel, all stress the fact that the problem is not to seek out and classify the various aspects of crime in the novel, but to see how a social development external to the book and its author's creative effort finally imprinted itself on the work, so much so that it changed the meaning of the words.”
I quote this here because here is where you can really see a troubled definition. It is distinctly linked to criminality here in a way that is more diffuse for the title of the novel as a whole.
While Marius stalking is convenient for the writer, Hugo's been writing in an omniscient third person, so he doesn't actually need Marius looking on in order to have an excuse to describe the Thénardier lair. He needs Marius to spy later for plot purposes, but did he realise how much of a dick Marius can come across as right now? Berates himself for doing nothing for all these years (years that seem over a year longer than they actually were), so what does he do now? Spies on them. Yeah, this'll get you into heaven. *facepalm*
I probably shouldn't laugh so hard at “Silence! I'm suppressing the freedom of the press”, but it's just funny to hear a political joke coming from Thénardier. (it's also a cut at every single regime Hugo really remembers – press freedoms were constantly being suppressed.) It's a real joke, as opposed to his vaguely nihilist bitter smash everything rant.
The chapter title “Le Rayon dans le bouge” brings to mind the phrase from the poem on the barricade, “j'ai vu un astre au fond du grenier” (minus the whole taking off stockings part, of course). Of course, now Marius can forget everything because he just saw Cosette again.
the imagery of the first line – that the bourgeois have to squint and strain to look into the darkness – is rather nice.
Pupil of Talma (conveniently dead), “friend” of Mlle Mars (I wonder how she liked this shout-out – she was well known for the role of Célimène in The Misanthrope and Elmire in Tartuffe, but she's mentioned here because she originated the role of Doña Sol in Hernani). Belisarius is a Roman general to whom is attached a legend that he, for offending the emperor Justinian, had his eyes put out and was forced to beg for alms.
Ok, I've been too hard on Marius. He doesn't bother to put on a tie when he's just hanging out in his room, so I suppose he can't have a stick *that* far up his ass.
The “tune of La Palisse” that the cab driver was whistling is la Chanson de La Palisse. It's a deliberate cut at Marius.
How does Courfeyrac know what Panchaud/Printanier/Bigrenaille looks like? This is kind of random, isn't it, since Panchaud has yet to become hugely famous? Surely at this point he's just a name in the neighbourhood. So how does Courfeyrac? (Yeah, I may need to work that into Corner of the Sky, because I'm crazy like that.)
What Fahnestock-MacAfee render as “talk softly to me” is “tutoyez-moi” - “talk sweetly to me” might have been better, or “be friendly with me”.
It's a good thing Thénardier is busy – I doubt Marius is all that silent jumping onto the bureau in his anxiety to hear anything about M. Leblanc.