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OP: Volume IV, Books Eleven and Twelve

Posted by vana_tuivana on 2006.11.28 at 00:35
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Since digdigil summarized an extra book last week (thank you, Jenni!), I only have two to do today, which is good, because I am tiiiiired, yo. :-) And look! Not very late at all, for once.

The Atom Fraternizes with the Hurricane
The beginning of this books catches us up with the urchin Gavroche, who steals an old pistol without a hammer (which I think means that he can't actually fire it, if I'm thinking of the right thing) and goes off to join the battles in the streets. We learn that the two little boys he adopted, his brothers, disappeared somewhere the day after he found them, which I find terribly sad. He passes by a pastry shop and wishes to buy an apple turnover, but he doesn't have any money, which also makes me sad, because little boys should have cake.

Gavroche's actions in the beginning of the book are a bit contradictory. He steals the old, broken pistol, but doesn't steal a pastry when he really wants one. He tears down theatre posters and then stops to help a lancer get his horse back on his feet. On his way to fight, he throws a stone through the window of the barber that refused to help the two little boys. What does this say about Gavroche as a character? Is it consistent with what we've seen before of the gamin?

(And one of my favorite lines so far: "You're sniffling, you antique," said Gavroche. "Blow your promontory." ...Heh. I just like it, that's all.)

Gavroche meets and joins a band of men led by Enjolras. Personally, I love the descriptions here of the assorted weapons the men are carrying, particularly Courfeyrac with his sword-cane. I ADORE IT. And I also adore the bit of dialogue between Enjolras and Bahorel which makes Gavroche admire Bahorel more than ever:

"Bahorel," observed Enjolras, "you're wrong. You should have left those instructions alone, it has nothing to do with what we're after. You're spending your wrath uselessly. Economize your ammunition. We don't fire out of rank--not with the soul any more than the gun."
"Each in his own way, Enjolras," retorted Bahorel. "This bishop's prose annoys me, I want to eat eggs without anybody's permission. You have the cold burning style; I have a good time. Besides, I'm not exhausting myself, I'm gaining new energy; and if I tore down that pastoral letter, by Hercules, it was to whet my appetite."

The group is joined by old M. Mabeuf, who, when told, "We are going to overthrow the government," replies simply: "Good." They keep going down the streets of Paris, picking up more men as they go. One of these new men, who joined them at the Rue des Billettes, was "a tall man, who was turning gray, whose rough and bold bearing Courfeyrac, Enjolras, and Combeferre noticed, but whom none of them knew." The group makes its way to the Rue Saint-Denis.

There is a description of the location, appearance, and history of the Corinth wineshop on the Rue de la Chanvrerie, with the narrow Rue Mondétour cutting out to one side of it. The shop had a sign above it that used to read CARPES HO GRAS, for carpes au gras, the proprietor's specialty, but time and weather have changed the message into CARPE HO RAS, which is "seize the hours" in Latin. Corinth was one of the main meeting places for Les Amis de l'ABC -- they had gone there when the proprietor Father Houcheloup was still living, and have continued meeting there after his death out of loyalty, though the wine is terrible and the food is even worse. Mother Houcheloup now owns the place, and keeps it up with the help of two servants, Chowder and Fricassée.

On the morning of June 5, the close companions Bossuet and Joly come in to Corinth for breakfast, Joly with a cold and Laigle in a threadbare coat. Grantaire comes in to join them and starts drinking, though it's 9:00 in the morning. He begins to expostulate on the theme of "I hate humankind," and makes a rather eloquent if confused speech which I find unbearably sad for its cynicism. I like Grantaire. ♥

Enjolras sends a gamin with a message to Bossuet: "ABC," the call to Lamarque's funeral. However, Bossuet, Joly, and Grantaire decide to stay in Corinth instead of going. Grantaire begins to drink stronger stuff than wine: "Having at hand neither opium nor hashish, and wanting to fill his brain with mist, he had taken recourse to the frightful mixture of brandy, stout, and absinthe which produces such terrible lethargy." Enjolras and his band pass by the Rue de la Chanvrerie, and Bossuet persuades them to build their barricade at the spot.

The band immediately takes over Corinth and builds a barricade in the street. The men (and even the women and the boy) are all helping except for Grantaire, who makes a nuisance of himself with his drunkenness and gets chastened by Enjolras, who tells him to "go sleep it off somewhere." That leads to this bit of dialogue, which I love:

[Grantaire] suddenly appeared sober. He sat down, leaned on a table near the window, looked at Enjolras with an inexpressible gentleness, and said to him, "Let me sleep here."
"Go sleep somewhere else," cried Enjolras.
But Grantaire, keeping his tender, troubled eyes fixed on him, answered, "Let me sleep here--until I die here."
Enjolras stared at him disdainfully.
"Grantaire, you're incapable of belief, of thought, of will, of life, and of death."
Grantaire replied gravely, "You'll see."

What do you think of Grantaire after this exchange? What about Enjolras? How does Hugo characterize their relationship?

The men take their places on the completed barricade, and wait. Les Amis de l'ABC, minus Enjolras, who is too serious about revolution for such frivolities, get together and start to recite a love poem, which I find unutterably cute. Oh, Jean Prouvaire... ♥

Gavroche sees the tall man who joined the group in the Rue des Billettes, and recognizes him as Javert. He goes to tell Enjolras, and Javert is tied to a post. Enjolras tells him that he will be shot ten minutes before the barricade is taken, and Javert takes the news calmly, asking, "Why not immediately?"

One of the men at the barricade, called Le Cabuc, decides that they ought to post a sniper at one of the windows in a house across the street. He raps at the door, getting the attention of the doorkeeper; when the old man refuses to open up for them, Le Cabuc shoots him. Enjolras summarily executes Le Cabuc, and gives a speech to the rest of the men explaining that it was necessary to kill him, and says some of the most inspiring things:

"In executing that man, I obeyed necessity; but necessity is a monster of the old world, the name of necessity is Fatality. Now the law of progress is that monsters disappear before angels, and that Fatality vanish before Fraternity. This is a bad time to pronounce the word 'love.' No matter, I pronounce it, and I glorify it. Love, yours is the future. Death, I use you, but I hate you. ... In the future, no man will slay his fellow, the earth will be radiant, the human race will love. It will come, citizens, that day when all shall be concord, harmony, light, joy, and life; it will come, and it is so that it may come that we are going to die."

On that inspiring note I leave you with this message: the section for this Thursday, November 30 is Books Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen of Volume IV. Have fun! :-)


Ten little bullets in my hand
10littlebullets at 2006-11-28 09:09 (UTC) (Link)
Actually, that bit of dialogue between Enjolras and Grantaire is even sadder in the French version. The translation you're using leaves out a key line, without which Grantaire's inexpressible tenderness makes no sense.

He sat down, leaned on a table near the window, looked at Enjolras with an inexpressible gentleness, and said to him, "You know I believe in you."

"Go away."

"Let me sleep here."

"Go sleep somewhere else," cried Enjolras.
duva at 2006-11-28 11:07 (UTC) (Link)
WHY DID THEY TAKE THAT OUT? I remember the first time I read it -- sitting on the floor of the uni library pondering whether to steal the book I was holding since it hadn't been checked out since 1997 -- and going "BZUH WHAT WAIT HUH?" and writing it down on my arm, haha! (Don't ask me why my arm, I had lots of paper, having been in a lecture. The mind works in mysterious ways.)

I am still tragically behind. Shall work on that and will hopefully catch up in a day or two.
duva at 2006-11-28 11:09 (UTC) (Link)
Unsung Heroine
atanwende at 2006-11-28 22:43 (UTC) (Link)
Eeek. I'm sooo behind. University doesn't help either. I've been enjoying the book so this far (if I can steal the time I might post to some of the older discussions I think...). :)
digdigil at 2006-11-29 23:23 (UTC) (Link)
You got a great section to summarize. It gave very good insight into the characters of many of these men and brave souls. I, too, like Grantaire quite a bit. Perhaps if one is to take up liquor, it may as well be at such a time as a revolution. I forgive him for that.

The words of Enjolras and Grantaire are truly inspiring. And I find old Pere Mabeuf inspiring too, in a way. Then there is Gavroche. Is this child capable of feeling fear???

I also love the description of the Corinth. While I do think that Hugo overdoes it sometimes on the lengthy descriptions, they do serve to put the reader right in a particular location and wrap it up with loads and loads of atmosphere.

BTW, I have already typed out my summary of the next three Books. Tomorrow night I have to go out after work for our "company" Christmas dinner. I'm not sure when to post, just in case I get home too late and don't want to get online tomorrow. Oh, hey--I guess I could get up a little earlier and do it in the morning! Yeah, good idea, Jenni. I'll do that. LOL. I'm punch-drunk.
duva at 2006-12-01 22:31 (UTC) (Link)
I am back in the game! *strikes a pose*

Is it completely wrong of me to find executioner!Enjolras WAY HOT? *cough* His little speech there is amazing. I love it. I prefer it to his four-page one that comes later. (What, everyone else gets one, you'd think he'd go without?)

Apparently the Enjolras/Grantaire conversation is a subject of much butchering -- Marianne already brought up the line lost from French; and in the Wilbour Grantaire never says "You'll see", only mumbles incoherently. WTF?!
duva at 2006-12-08 10:16 (UTC) (Link)

I remembered that Javert comparison!!

So I spam this entry. Ooops.

Remember when I said that this reminded me of something Enjolras said?

Compare the two:

"In my life I have often been severe toward others. It was just. I was right. Now if I were not severe toward myself, all I have justly done would become injustice. Should I spare myself more than others? No. ... I ought to treat myself as I would treat anybody else. [...]"

"Citizens,' said Enjolras, "what that man did is horrible, and what I have done is terrible. He killed, that is why I killed him. I was forced to do it, for the insurrection must have its discipline. Assassination is still a greater crime here than elsewhere; we are under the eyes of the Revolution, we are the priests of the Republic, we are the sacramental host of duty, and no one can defame our combat. I therefore judged and condemned that man to death. As for myself, compelled to do what I have done, but abhorring it, I have judged myself also, and you shall soon see to what I have sentenced myself."

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