5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

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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5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby Frédérique » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:28 am

Volume 5: Jean Valjean, book 5: Grandfather and Grandson
Chapters:

1. Où l'on revoit l'arbre à l'emplâtre de zinc/In which the tree with the zinc plaster is seen again
2. Marius, en sortant de la guerre civile, s'apprête à la guerre domestique/Marius, emerging from civil war, prepares for domestic war
3. Marius attaque/Marius attacked
4. Mademoiselle Gillenormand finit par ne plus trouver mauvais que M. Fauchelevent soit entré avec quelque chose sous le bras/Mademoiselle Gillenormand ends by no longer thinking it a bad thing that M. Fauchelevent should have entered with something under his arm
5. Déposez plutôt votre argent dans telle forêt que chez tel notaire/Deposit your money in a forest rather than with a notary
6. Les deux vieillards font tout, chacun à leur façon, pour que Cosette soit heureuse/The two old men do everything, each after his own fashion, to make Cosette happy
7. Les effets de rêve mêlés au bonheur/The effects of dreams mingled with happiness
8. Deux hommes impossibles à retrouver/Two men impossible to find

You can find the French text of this book here and the Hapgood English translation here.

Valjean retrieves his riches from the forest; Marius recovers slowly; both father figures permit the young lovers' marriage and proceed to prepare for it. A lot of civil talk passes on- and off-screen between formerly animous personnages, but the insurrection remains untalked of between its two participants.

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby Ulkis » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:09 am

Denny translates chapter 4 as "Mlle Gillenormand and Monsieur Fauchelevent". Sigh. Denny!

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:33 pm

I might get caught up yet! (or maybe not)

Livre 5

Chapitre 1
1: On notera l'inversion du titre du livre 3 de la troisième partie. Elle est justifiée au chapitre 2 : << Il y avait de l'abdication dans sa joie ; il était le petit-fils de son petit-fils. >>
One will note the inversion of the title of book 3 of the third part. It is justified in chapter 2: “There was abdication in his joy; he was the grandson of his grandson.”

2: Il a effectivement été entrevu en II, 2, 2, cherchant le trésor de Montfermeil ; en II, 3, 6, à l'auberge Thénardier ; en III, 7, 4, dans la liste de Patron-Minette ; en III, 8, 20, dans le guet-apens de la masure Gorbeau.
It had effectively been anticipated in II, 2, 2, looking for the treasure of Montfermeil; in II, 3, 6, at Thénardier's inn; in III, 7, 4, in the list of Patron Minette; in III, 8, 20, in the ambush in the Gorbeau hovel.

3: C'était en III, 8, 21.
It was in III, 8, 21.

4: Hugo n'avait pas encore jusqu'ici nommé cette clairière. Blaru était le pseudonyme sous lequel Léonie Biard, puis d'Aunet, signait ses livres : Thérèse de Blaru. Il est possible qu'elle ait accompagné Hugo dans le bref voyage que celui-ci fit en septembre 1845 à Montfermeil, juste avant d'entreprendre la rédaction des Misérables. Dans ce cas, Léonie aurait profité de quelques jours de liberté entre sa sortie de prison, où elle venait de passer deux mois, et son entrée au couvent des Augustines où elle devait purger six mois le reste de la peine infligée après le flagrant délit d'adultère. Pourquoi Hugo donna-t-il ce nom à cette clairière au trésor ? On peut rêver. Mais il faut noter que le nom de plume de Léonie n'était inconnu de personne. Sinon, peut-être, de Juliette.
Hugo had not named this clearing until now. Blaru was the pseudonym under which Léonie Biard, then d'Aunet, signed her books: Thérèse de Blaru. It is possible that she had accompanied Hugo on the brief trip he made in September 1845 to Montfermeil, just before undertaking the draft of Les Misérables. In this case, Léonie would have profited from a few days of liberty between her exit from prison, where she had just spent two months, and her entry to the convent of the Augustines where she would have to purge for six months the rest of the punishment inflicted after the flagrant crime of adultery. Why did Hugo give this name to this treasure clearing? One can dream. But it is necessary to note that Léonie's nom de plume was not unknown to anyone. If not, perhaps, to Juliette.

Chapitre 2
5: On peu voir dans ce détail un souvenir du grave anthrax dont Hugo avait souffert tout l'été 1858, mettant en danger ses jours et l'empêchant d'écrire de fin juin à septembre.
One can see in this detail a memory of the serious anthrax Hugo had suffered all summer in 1858, putting in danger his days and hurrying him to write from the end of June to September.

6: Y. Gohin note que cela fait trois mois (6 juin – 7 septembre) et non quatre, mais que la date du 7 septembre étant celle où Hugo apprit la mort de sa fille dans la presse, elle a sans doute appelé ce nombre 4, jour où Léopoldine s'était noyée (4 septembre).
Y. Gohin notes that this makes three months (6 June to 7 September) and not four, but the date of 7 september being the one when Hugo learned of the death of his daughter in the press, it was doubtless given this number 4, the day when Léopoldine drowned (4 September).

7: Cette Jeanne a le même lieu de naissance que Juliette Drouet.
This Jeanne has the same birthplace as Juliette Drouet.

Chapitre 3
8: XXIVe Bucolique. Cette élégie s'appelait Le Malade jusqu'à l'édition de 1862 où lui fut substitué le titre Le Jeune Malade.
24th Bucolic. This elegy was called The Sick Man until the 1862 edition when the title The Sick Youth was substituted.

Chapitre 4
9: Boulard (Antoine-Marie-Henri) 1754-1825, littérateur et célèbre bibliophile parisien. Exécuteur testamentaire de La Harpe, c'est par ses soins que fut publiée la partie du Cours de littérature relative à la philosophie du XVIIIe siècle. Ce qui l'a surtout fait connaître, c'est sa passion pour les livres. Sa bibliothèque comprenait à sa mort près de 500 000 volumes. Les marchands de livres et bouquinistes parisiens dont il était la providence, se rappellent encore, dit P. Larousse en 1873, le nom du père Boulard.
Boulard, Antoine-Marie-Henri, 1754-1825, writer and famous Parisian bibliophile. Executor of La Harpe's will, it is through his efforts that the part of the Course of Literature related to 18th century philosophy was published. What made him famous above all was his passion for books. His library comprised, at his death, nearly 500,000 volumes. The new and second-hand booksellers of Paris to whom he was providence, still recall, said P. Larousse in 1873, the name of Father Boulard. [wiki is French only; Boulard was also a translator of major works, predominantly English nonfiction.]

10: C'est à Saint-Paul que s'était mariée Léopoldine, le 15 février 1843, dix ans, à un jour près, après la rencontre de Juliette et de V. Hugo. Saint-Denis du Saint-Sacrement était, en 1833, en construction et ne fut achevée qu'en 1835.
It's at Saint-Paul that Léopoldine was married, 15 February 1843, ten years, almost to the day, after V. Hugo met Juliette. Saint-Denys du Saint-Sacrement was, in 1833, under construction and was not finished until 1835. [wikis French only but nice pictures]

11: V. Hugo avait achevé son voyage de Hollande, l'été 1861, en passant par Namur, le 26 août ; ce qui avait sans doute ravivé ses souvenirs du voyage du Rhin – voir la Lettre VI.
Hugo had finished his trip to Holland, the summer of 1861, by passing by Namur, 26 August; this undoubtedly revived his memories of the trip on the Rhine – see Letter VI.

12: << Tour d'ivoire >>, une des invocation des litanies de la Vierge.
“Tower of ivory”, one of the invocations in the litanies of the Virgin.

13: Gillenormand corrige ici un vers de Boileau :
Enfin, bornant le cours de tes galanteries,
Alcippe, il est donc vrai, dans peu tu te maries ?
(Satires, X.)

Gillenormand corrects here a verse by Boileau:
Finally, carrying the thread of your gallantries,
Alcippe, it is true, then, in a short time you will marry?
(Satires, X.)

Chapitre 5
14: Cela ne sera pas nécessaire : Jean Valjean ne touchera pas à ces cinq cents Francs – voir V, 9, 5.
This will not be necessary: Jean Valjean will not touch these 500 francs – see V, 9, 5.

Chapitre 6
15: La robe de première communion de Léopoldine avait été taillée dans une robe de Juliette.
Léopoldine's first communion dress had been cut from one of Juliette's dresses.

16: Il s'agit ici du père du Rohan entrevu dans l'épisode du couvent. Hugo avait pu voir reproduits ces titres sur les livres du château de La Roche-Guyon, l'été 1821 – voir III, 3, note 21.
This refers to Father du Rohan as seen before in the convent episode. Hugo had been able to see these titles reproduced on the books of the Château de La Roche-Guyon, in the summer of 1821 – see III, 3, note 21.

17: Cujas : grand juriste de la Renaissance. Gamache, paysan de Don Quichotte dont les noces sont l'occasion d'un repas pantagruélique. << Les noces de Gamache >> sont devenues un proverbe pour signifier un festin où l'abondance tourne à la profusion.
Cujas: great jurist of the Renaissance. Gamache, peasant in Don Quixote whose wedding was the occasion of a gargantuan meal. “Gamache's wedding” became a proverb to signify a festive occasion where abundance turns to profusion. [I'm just amused by the adjective here – we use one of Rabelais' giants, and they use the other.]

18: Le fabuliste Florian était effectivement capitaine de dragons. Cette qualité devait plaire à Hugo qui note, sous la rubrique Comédie, ces deux personnages :
Florian, cap. de dragons.
Le dragon Florian.
(<< Fragments dramatiques >>, éd. J. Massin, t. XII, p. 1051.)

The fabulist Florian was effectively captain of dragoons. This quality should please Hugo who notes, under the heading Comedy, these two characters:
Florian, capt. of dragoons
The dragoon Florian.
(“Dramatic Fragments”, ed. J. Massin, vol. XII, p. 1051.)

19: Troupe d'élite de l'armée macédonienne. L'érudition de Gillenormand, semblable à celle de Bossuet (voir V, 1, 2, et note 11), poétise les réalités grecques.
Elite troops of the Macedonian army. Gillenormand's erudition, similar to Bossuet's (see V, 1, 2 and note 11) poetises Greek realities.

20: Livre de prières contenant les offices des dimanches et fêtes.
Book of prayers containing the offices for Sundays and festivals.

21: Détail exact, que Hugo avait observé lors de son séjour en ce château chez le duc de Rohan, l'été 1821, et noté dans le Victor Hugo raconté... (ouv. Cit., p. 343) : << Le lit était tendu de soie jaune dont l'étoffe était semée de fleurs de velours de diverse couleurs. >>
Exact detail, which Hugo had observed during his stay in this château owned by the duc de Rohan, the summer of 1821, and noted in Victor Hugo Recounted . . . (op. Cit., p. 343): “The bed was hung with yellow silk of which the stuff was scattered with velvet flowers of diverse colours.”
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:57 am

Book 4

Chapter 1
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.

Chapter 2
“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.

Chapter 3
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.

Chapter 4
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.

Chapter 5
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.

Chapter 6
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 and 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.
damasks
lampas – 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 fabric

Phillis – faithful, waiting, abandoned wife

Strasbourg 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.)

Chapter 7
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.)

Chapter 8
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

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby Ulkis » Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:35 am

Yeah the only reason I can think of for why Marius STILL hasn't given up on Thenardier, even though he knows now that Thenardier is awful, is that he still feels guilty over going along with Gillenormand regarding his father.

However, I do like that Marius and Valjean have a nice almost-conversation on the subject of universal free education.


Yeah I really like that part too. It's adorable when Valjean is passionate about something, like with the books of/about travel. And sad for him too, because we saw when he was mayor he was loved and well respected and if it hadn't been for the whole ex con thing, heh, probably could have made a lot of friends too.

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby between4walls » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:41 am

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).


I disagree- Gillenormand didn't just hate Marius's father, he used his wealth to pressure the father into giving up his kid, prevented Marius from having a real relationship with his only surviving parent, and lied to him about it for his whole life. Gillenormand is a very likeable character, especially because unlike Marius we can read his thoughts and see how his good intentions get tangled up and how he actually cares for his grandson. But his actions up until Marius leaves are ethically extremely messed up (no matter what sort of person the General was), more than bad enough to justify Marius cutting off contact and refusing to take his money.

There's parallel between Gillenormand's action and Marius trying to separate Valjean and Cosette later on.
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:18 am

That's all true, but if Pontmercy were an asshole, as opposed to a victim, Gillenormand's same actions would look a hell of a lot better, right? I mean, say Pontmercy had convinced Mlle Gillenormand to join a cult, and Gillenormand succeeded in getting the grandson back after his daughter's death. How much do you tell the child? (I think this is how Gillenormand sees it.) Cutting off all contact, for the child's protection, makes a certain sense under certain circumstances, right?

The thing is, in this situation, we don't have full information. No one in the book has full information, and the narrator isn't helping the reader entirely decide who is right because we don't have enough of the general doing anything except mourning. But Marius, like the reader, is making constructions based on certain desires more than on facts he has gleaned, and one can take the available facts, put them in a different context (a valid one considering General Hugo being the author's best experience with a kick-ass Napoleonic general), and come up with something completely different. Marius is going off what he wants to see; so is Gillenormand. So was the General, if we're honest - if there were signs that handing over Marius was not a perfect solution, he ignored them because, in the end, he handed over the kid and never petitioned to get him back. There's a lot of "see what I wanna see" on all sides, and while Gillenormand may be waking up to possibilities, Marius is determined not to, and I think that's what was driving me nuts.

(standard disclaimer of not trying to change your mind on anything, just trying to explain. Especially as you're right on your last point, and I think it makes us both right: Marius works himself into a particular mindset and is really damned stubborn about it until something blows his head wide open. I think my disappointment is that nearly dying at the barricade wasn't as helpful in opening his mind as I had wished. Gillenormand is trying, and Marius won't even give him a bit of wary questioning even as his behaviour is considerably different, because Marius is digging his heels in and I always want to smack him when he gets like this. Though the Valjean thing is a little different in that it plays into class issues, too, that rub at a different ingrained sense of place and responsibility than family does.)
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby between4walls » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:56 am

The thing is (with the same disclaimer as your comment) that neither Marius nor the reader has evidence of the General being dangerous to his child and Gillenormand himself hasn't given any evidence to contradict Marius's interpretation of what happened, because he can't. If he had cut off contact because of a dangerous cult or some real toxic personality, then even if he didn't want to tell Marius in his childhood, he should have mentioned it by now by now (though Gillenormand did have plausible reasons to think Marius was better off being raised by him than a prominent Bonapartist). Everybody has incomplete information, but we know what information Gillenormand had in mind when he made his decision and it's what Marius thinks it is.

The General might be a jerk for all we know, but that wouldn't affect the morality of Gillenormand's decisions if he didn't know it. Pontmercy might well be both an asshole and a victim; he's still manipulated by threats to his child's well-being rather than his own, and that he puts what he sees as Marius's interests above his own interest in having contact with the kid speaks well to his not being an asshole. On the other hand, we have evidence that Gillenormand is a jerk, so it's hard to see how he's a better person to raise a kid.

Also, Marius isn't considering his grand-father's perspective now, but he spent years with the same perspective when he shared his ultra-royalist opinions. He's not unaware of the thought processes.

Finally, there are less cruel and poisoning ways to deal with cutting off contact than:
Marius wrote filial letters to his father, which his aunt dictated, and which, one would have thought were copied from some manual;this was all that M. Gillenormand allowed; and the father would answer with very tender letters, which the grandfather shoved into his pocket without reading.

an upbringing which leaves Marius
convinced that his father did not love him...Sensing that he was not loved, he felt no love.


Though I don't think this is entirely Gillenormand's fault; he's a lot less naive and unsociable than Marius, who takes against his grandfather's "gaiety and cynicism" even before this comes out. Gillenormand probably wouldn't have been as affected by a similar series of events and couldn't have anticipated Marius's fairly extreme reaction. Marius's error is more being intolerant of his grandfather's personality more than not understanding his grandfather's reasons for his decisions.

Yes, Gillenormand is making an effort now, but he a) is much older and more mature and b) almost lost his grandson. Marius has a lot of flaws, but I don't think not being ready to completely reconcile with his grandfather yet is one of them.
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby between4walls » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:58 am

I should add that I totally agree with your description of Marius's thought processes re: digging in his heels until some extreme revelation blows his head open, and that way of thinking helps make sense of his relationships with Valjean and the Thenardiers.

Edited to add: Another factor in my take on this is that it was Gillenormand who kicked Marius out in the first place, rather than Marius running away.
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby Ulkis » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:42 am

the part where its said that at any other time Cosette would have been more upset about finding out Valjean wasn't her natural father is interesting because it's like Hugo is admitting, yes, she has feelings and shit but I don't feel like getting into that (in addition to that I wonder how the scene where Valjean reveals he knows about Marius would go. What would Cosette say about not telling him?). But besides the meta aspect of skipping over Cosette's emotional response, I can buy that she'd be less upset because she has Marius now, she's happy she's gonna be with him and she had been surrounded all her life in mystery but it's funny how it isn't brought up again that the biggest reason she wouldn't be so shocked is that it was already said in the book "in the House in the Rue Plumet" that she already isn't sure that Valjean is actually her dad. So its weird to me that it isn't brought up again that, hey, she already had an inkling of this. But maybe it's implied in the "one more mystery" in her life comment.

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:02 pm

Or, Hugo forgot he had included that detail? The draft of La Maison de la Rue Plumet was pre-exile except for the last chapter, La Cadène (The Chain); the draft of The Grandson and the Grandfather was April 1861 or later. (Gavroche, profound calculator of distances was the last chapter drafted pre-exile.) The detail may have been overlooked in the editing?

(yeah, I've got a chronology of the draft, chapter by chapter. My French copy is just that nerdy *g*.)

I think what we're seeing is Cosette is so excited about getting married that anything else just pales in comparison. I wonder if the thought process is "Married! Wedding! Not my father? Huh. Money! Shiny presents!!!" She's getting bombarded with a lot of happy things, and this bit of news just slides off in comparison because a) it doesn't really overturn what she remembers of the past and b) there is so much awesome to dwell on instead. I think it's less that she has Marius now and more that it just doesn't change a whole lot and she has so much else taking up her attention that the little change isn't being given the mental space of the bigger changes.

Now, if Valjean had come out at this point and said "I'm a convicted felon, an escaped prisoner, and not related to you in the least", that would probably get a reaction. Letting out that "I'm technically not your father, just another relative who swore to look after you to the best of my ability" doesn't change who "M. Fauchelevent" is the way the whole truth would. And so long as "M. Fauchelevent" is still M. Fauchelevent, Cosette's world isn't turned upside down the way it would be with the whole truth.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 5.5 Le petit-fils et le grand-père 9/8/11-16/8/11

Postby Ulkis » Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:44 pm

Or, Hugo forgot he had included that detail? The draft of La Maison de la Rue Plumet was pre-exile except for the last chapter, La Cadène (The Chain); the draft of The Grandson and the Grandfather was April 1861 or later. (Gavroche, profound calculator of distances was the last chapter drafted pre-exile.) The detail may have been overlooked in the editing?


That too, of course! :)


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