Posts Tagged “Paris”
Valjean sure knows how to pick a hiding place
Continuing my series on re-reading the novel. Valjean and Cosette arrive in Paris, but are soon driven out, pursued by Javert.
Hugo separates exposition & action, spending pages on character & setting before telling you what they did. Ex: The convent where Valjean & Cosette shelter.
Valjean must leave the grounds without being seen. Fauchelevent must get an empty coffin out without suspicion. How can they possibly solve these problems?
Paris Has the Best Street Urchins
Victor Hugo describes the idealized Paris urchin of the early 1800s, a microcosm of Paris, itself a microcosm of the world. Then we meet Gavroche.
Marius grows up in a staunch royalist household, but when he learns they've lied about his Bonapartist father, he starts questioning everything.
Get to Know Your ABCs
In the novel, the rebellious students are all individuals, not just Enjolras, Marius, Grantaire and the backup singers seen in the musical.
Poor, Poor Marius
Marius fares much better in poverty than Fantine. One of his friends is completely absorbed by books. His grandfather is a classic grumpy old man.
At last, Marius and Cosette meet! Sort of. Long-distance flirting is all they can manage, and they still haven't spoken a word to each other after weeks.
Les Misérables - Reading Digitally and Matching Translations
The Kindle movie tie-in edition of Les Misérables happens to match the version I'm reading. Also, some thoughts on various translations of the book.
The Scumbag Report
Before we can read about Thenardier's robbery attempt, we need to learn about his accomplices among the underworld of Paris.
Ambush in the Slums
Marius meets his wretched neighbors, the Thenardiers, who try to extort money from Jean Valjean and Cosette. A tense standoff is interrupted by Javert.
You Say You Want A Revolution
Before the barricades arise, Hugo establishes the political mood in Paris from 1830-1832, making clear the scope of unrest and that they DID have a chance.
Just a Lark
Marius withdraws from the world and tries to contact Cosette telepathically. The gang is arrested, but accidentally points Eponine to the Rue Plumet.
Meanwhile, Back at the Rue Plumet…
After 250 pages only seeing them from Marius' POV, we meet Valjean, Cosette and their home in the Rue Plumet...and see their side of the stealth courtship.
Epic Fail at Mugging
Montparnasse tries to mug Jean Valjean...while Gavroche is watching...outside Mabeuf's garden. It doesn't go well for Montparnasse.
Creeping Around the Garden
Someone is stalking Cosette, watching her window and following her in the garden. Fortunately, it turns out to be Marius, so everything's okay!
Gavroche and the Adventure of the Incognito Family
The urchin Gavroche takes in two small boys without knowing they're his brothers. Later that night, he helps rescue his father....who doesn't recognize him.
Argot, F-- Yourself
I finally read the chapters the translator pulled out. Thieves' slang turned out to be less a topic and more of a lens to focus on the same themes as usual.
Over the Edge
Marius and Cosette's secret meetings start off well. They even escape an attempted robbery. But everything falls apart just as Paris begins to boil over.
A Revolting Development
The day of the barricade arrives, and the revolt is much bigger than the show makes it look. Gavroche is having a blast running around singing and pranking.
(From) Drinking to Revolution
Grantaire holds court in a tavern, the barricade goes up, Javert is discovered, and Marius has a very different experience getting into the combat zone.
Hey Barricade, Who’s in Charge Here?
Initial skirmishes on the barricade, the first deaths, Marius' suicide mission, Gavroche pushing things a bit too far, and Valjean reaching another crisis.
Barricades of Future Past (Plus Cannon Geekery)
After a look ahead to the 1848 barricades, Enjolras gives a speech, Valjean makes an entrance, and the students talk geek out over the army's new cannon.
Passing Peak Ammunition
The barricade holds against several attacks the next morning, but they start running out of bullets...and defenders. Adieu to Gavroche and Javert.
Last Stand at the Barricade
Hugo lays out the main theme of the book, 1000 pages in. The barricade falls, the surviving defenders retreat to the tavern, and Grantaire wakes up at last.
What a Wonderful Smell You’ve Discovered
The history of the Paris sewers...and then Jean Valjean's flight through those offal tunnels, escaping the battle zone.
Javert's decision to commit suicide doesn't take long to tell, but it's an interesting scene that calls back to other dilemmas he's faced.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Javert is no longer a threat, Marius is alive and reconciled with his grandfather, and he and Cosette have a chance to be together. What could go wrong?
This is the End
Without Javert, Valjean pursues himself to his own shocking decline, stopped only when Thenardier tries and fails to blackmail Marius. Sadly, it's too late.
Not exactly Javert’s bridge, but close enough
Coincidence: A Flickr event I participate in ended up highlighting a photo taken at the exact spot as one of the personal shots I used on this site.
The woodcut of Little Cosette drastically understates how badly she’s treated by the Thénardiers. So do all the adaptations I’ve seen.
Let’s meet Marius! Haha just kidding, here’s a street urchin first
Hugo really pours on his Paris-is-the-best-of-everything attitude in this chapter. Paris even has the best homeless children.
We see the ambush entirely through Marius' limited POV. The reader has to piece things together, making the multiple dualities even clearer.
Javert in his Element
This is how Javert sees himself: the vigilant protector of society. But it's only heroic because *this* time, he happens to be in the right.
Now Arriving at Rue Plumet
Back to Jean Valjean and Cosette, POV changes, foreshadowing, and clear signs of PTSD a century before it was really understood.
Gavroche and his Family
The youngest two Thénardier children luck out by being raised by someone else. Gavroche is no worse off on the street than his sisters at home, but by raising himself, he's turned out kind-hearted.
Paris has the best riots?
Hugo has opinions on riot vs. insurrection, real-life experience with riots in Paris, and remarks on how the June rebellion actually started off strongly.
Commandeering the Tavern
Grantaire is drunk and angry, Joly has a cold, and the students casually take over the tavern over the objections of the owner and staff.
Hitting the Fan
A gripping description of Paris under siege. Mabeuf's BSOD leads to him being the first casualty. And then, everything happens at once.
On The Barricade
Philosophical thoughts on revolutions, civil wars, who should or shouldn't fight, and then everyone dies in bullet points.
Into the Dreaded Sewers
Paris has the best of *almost* everything, but the worst sewers. But that's OK, because it has the best *sewage.*
Derailing Javert’s One-Track Mind
What undoes Javert is that he can't handle uncertainty. He's by-the-book, starkly authoritarian, and as soon as he has to think about things, he bails.
It’s 1817 All Over Again
Every time through the book, the bishop’s chapters are more interesting. But “In the Year 1817” gets more tedious each time through.