thjazi: Sketch of goofy smiling Enjolras (Default)
[personal profile] thjazi posting in [community profile] les_miserables
Wow it's really quiet around here.

Uh.

So.

HOW ABOUT HUGO SHIFTING OVER ALMOST ALL HIS RADICALS TO BEING STUDENTS, WHAT'S UP WITH THAT.


(it's either that or I start trying to talk about Communion Meal parallels between dinner at the Bishop's and breakfast at the Corinth which is admittedly my current focus but I'm not sure how to even launch into that)


(if this were Tumblr I could tagnatter as I flee but it's not so BALL'S IN YOUR COURT GEN)

Date: 2014-03-28 07:24 am (UTC)
genarti: Valjean holding the Bishop's candlesticks, looking mulish and bewildered, with text "I have bought your soul for God." ([les mis] the wages of sin)
From: [personal profile] genarti
I ACCEPT

...uh, and am tired so I don't have a lot to say, except that I do actually totally want to talk about Communion Meal parallels. That sounds fascinating! And, wow, talk about the joining of earthly and Infinite. (Repeated theme number eleventy-billion, but a big one for sure.)

No, seriously, now you have me thinking about this. Huh.

They're both meals which aren't themselves transformative in any plot-containing way -- the moments of transcendent change come afterward -- but the meal is part of what leads into that transcendent change. Meal, and then moment of falling lower (Valjean stealing the silver from the one person who treated him with respect; Grantaire going from a ranting nihilist in the corner to raving and harrassing everyone while they're trying to build a barricade, with enough obstreperous bad timing that COURFEYRAC of all people snaps at him to shut up, and then passing out cold for a day straight), and then the transcendence: the Bishop's gift that spurs Valjean to change his entire life, the barricade's epic sweep of the future all illuminated with death and symbolism, and for Grantaire the moment of acceptance and really being one of them and part of it before, you know, he dies. But there's nothing at odds with Communion symbolism in sacrificial death after the meal, either.
Edited Date: 2014-03-28 07:25 am (UTC)

Re: communion meals

Date: 2014-03-28 08:20 pm (UTC)
genarti: Combeferre and Enjolras in the Cafe Musain. ([les mis] guide and chief)
From: [personal profile] genarti
(Ooooh. Possibly the Bishop figures' play to draw the outsiders back in is a different post, yes, but I'M INTERESTED IN THAT POST TOO.)

I really like all this, and I think you're dead on about the structural similarities. Right down to the MONKS, WHO NEEDS 'EM?? PASS THE WINE THANKS bit.

One thing I'm turning over in my mind is that the Corinthe breakfast is really a sort of earthy calm-before-the-storm transition to two things. One is, as you mention here, the Outsider thing, and Grantaire's plotline. But the other is that it's the transition to the barricade scenes, which are a different kind of transcendent change for everybody involved. Some of them are at the meal and most of them aren't, but, I dunno, maybe it's significant that that's the place where they all gather? Or maybe that's just significant in the ways we've already talked about, where it's the earthy party crowd observers who pick the spot where the more Abstract Plane-oriented folks settle down too, once the Significant Meal is over. (And particularly Bossuet, the walking plot nexus -- and, wait, isn't it Grantaire who introduced them all to the Corinthe in the first place?)

I dunno, I'm writing this on a mini-break from work and my attention's all split, but this is super interesting to me!

Date: 2014-03-28 10:11 am (UTC)
flo_nelja: (Default)
From: [personal profile] flo_nelja
I think because he was writing both a group of radicals and a group which reminded him of his group of friends when he was young - students with students interests? I have absolutely no proof, though.

Date: 2014-03-28 02:58 pm (UTC)
genarti: Combeferre and Enjolras in the Cafe Musain. ([les mis] guide and chief)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Oh interesting. That's not a connection I'd made -- I just sort of, you know, assumed the characters were students because that was an easy way to have them running around with a lot of free time to spend on radical politics. Which of course has to have been part of the reason, but it's certainly not the only way to accomplish that, and I hadn't realized it was actually a departure from what Hugo's social circle at the time was. (I figured they were mostly theoretically students while also being artists and radicals and slackers extraordinaire.)

I suppose some of them have to be bourgeois-background students in order to be compared with Marius? Both narratively, and for Marius to hook into their society (uh, insofar as he ever does). But you're right that they certainly don't all have to be, especially since Marius never really hooks into their society all that much.

I don't have any immediate answers or insight, but now I'm curious too.

This is a record number of words to say "I DUNNO, GOOD QUESTION."

Date: 2014-03-28 02:04 pm (UTC)
kerrypolka: Contemporary Lois Lane with cellphone (Default)
From: [personal profile] kerrypolka
HELLO SWEET THREADED DISCUSSION, LONG HAVE I MISSED YOU. &;

Date: 2014-03-28 04:25 pm (UTC)
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
From: [personal profile] melannen
HELLO!

You can totally still tagnatter on DW, if it's turned off in this community I'm sure the mods could be inveigled in to turning it back on in order to attract more tumblr folks. ^_^

I would love to talk about the communion meal thing (although I have no idea where to start) but now you've got me thinking about "why are they students" and you're right, I am puzzled! It isn't just shifting them away from being working-class, is it, it's siting them in this specific space which doesn't actually match very well with most of the people they're based on.

Hugo never attended university himself, did he? I wonder if that's anything to do with it - we know that a lot of the Amis is Hugo Working Out His Feels on Insurrection.

Date: 2014-03-28 05:58 pm (UTC)
genarti: Young boy in ninja costume peering around a corner. ([misc] *NINJA*)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Lemme check! I can't remember if I set tags to mod-only or to poster-enabled, but I'd be happy to make sure people can natter if they want. (I know that I'd like to keep a consistent tagging system so people can search by canon, meta/fic/art, etc, but that can totally be done in addition to tagnatter. You get 1000 tags for a comm last I checked, and we're not gonna run up against that limit any time soon.)

Edit: Okay, I think it's set so that anyone can tag an entry whatever they want. If you can't, let me know! I've stuck an asterisk on the front of the categorization tags, and I'll edit the profile when I get a chance to say something like "please use the categorization tags, or your mod will come along and add them (which she doesn't mind doing!), but feel free to add whatever other ones you want too.")
Edited Date: 2014-03-28 06:09 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-29 12:00 am (UTC)
bobcatmoran: The twins from Ouran, talking about robots and flowers (robot flowers)
From: [personal profile] bobcatmoran
Going back to your original question:

It never even occurred to me that it would be odd for them to be students, as the tie between students and radical uprisings and protests has been so strong throughout history. I think it has a lot to do with university/college/higher-education-of-chosen-place-and-time students generally coming from relatively privileged backgrounds, where they have the time and money and social standing to be able to focus on more than just getting through one more day. Not that people from less privileged situations don't rise up (not at all!) but when your belly is full and you don't have to worry about how you're going to manage the necessities of life, (and you don't have to worry that, if you do participate in a radical action, that you'll lose your livelihood and your means of affording such things) that's brainpower and energy that you can dedicate to other things. Like the revolution, perhaps.

That, and students are generally in an environment that encourages one to think deeply about things and expand your horizons — not only because of classwork, but because institutions of higher learning oftentimes bring together people from different locations and backgrounds. Ot top of that, they tend to be in cities, which also bring together people from an even greater variety of locations and backgrounds. It makes it easy to be exposed to new ideas, new ways of looking at the world, stepping outside the comfortable bubble of childhood and perhaps seeing the injustice in the world and wondering, "How can I make this better?" Add to that the fact that young people are less wedded to the power stuctures, more open-minded because they're less likely to have decided "This is the way the world works, period," and it's no wonder that so many of Les Amis are students.

Date: 2014-03-29 07:27 am (UTC)
tenlittlebullets: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tenlittlebullets
YEAH, it would never have occurred to me as weird either because student radicals are such a trope and it makes sense in-narrative--the place where it gets weird, and I never noticed it until I buried myself in Saint-Merry research, is that the actual stats of the June Rebellion were the exact opposite. The Amis in the book are mostly students with some token workers thrown in; the real-life insurgents were mostly working-class--and within that category, mostly educated skilled artisans--with a handful of students.

To get into specifics: At Saint-Merry there were two law students joined by a third on the night of the 5th, a Polytechnicien who showed up on the 6th to great acclaim and was immediately given a command post, and a student of the Alfort veterinary school found dead in the building where they made their last stand. All of them sufficiently remarked-upon that I doubt there were many others. Geography comes into play here--Saint-Merry is across the river from the Latin Quarter, so it's likely that as the uprising was suppressed on the Left Bank, students started sneaking across under cover of night to join the holdouts at Saint-Merry, and many of them were probably caught and detained before they could get there. But still. Five students out of about 120 insurgents.

Which would still be down to artistic license except that so much of the stuff from the barricades is pulled almost verbatim from history, and Enjolras is so clearly modeled on Charles Jeanne. It seems like a really stinkeye-inducing thing for Hugo to change. The best I can come up with is that the Chanvrerie barricade was sort of a remix of Saint-Merry with elements taken from a bunch of different revolts throughout the 19th century, and it could be that Hugo wanted to celebrate the tradition of student radicals by having a student-led barricade exist in parallel with the worker-led barricade. But. Like. It's just an impression, but I get the feeling Hugo was uncomfortable writing about the skilled, educated working classes, because they're kind of an awkward fit with the social narrative he was trying to construct with Les Mis--he's comfortable writing about (and criticizing) the bourgeoisie, and advocating on behalf of the destitute and marginalized, and the existence of people who are neither but are still getting pushed around and fucked over by the system and have their own voice and initiative in fighting it kind of throws him for a loop.

Date: 2014-03-29 03:44 pm (UTC)
bobcatmoran: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bobcatmoran
Huh, okay, that is weird then, especially since, like you said, Hugo basically filed the serial numbers off of real events for the barricades. I had no idea that it was less than one in twenty insurgents there who were students. *side-eyes Hugo HARD*

Date: 2014-04-20 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It's Pliny! Just saying: wow, thank you so much for commenting on it, because it really struck me reading the Jeanne letters that, wait, uh, Enjolras is basically the upper-class rewrite of this person. I wonder if it's also because the Amis are so tied into Marius? Their choices have to reflect back on his choices and his life at the end, and also -- perhaps because I think he's imagining his audience as bourgeois? that is the impression I get from his tone/the "we" imagined, so he figures the people behind social change as people like his imagined (male, upper or middle-class) readers in some way.

...I don't know...how much that reflects the background of the members of the Petit Cenacle either? I had the vague feeling that they were not of the kind of milieu that Charles Jeanne and the workers are coming from, and obviously they inspire the Amis hugely, and...were the people Hugo personally knew at the time.

But, yeah, it's actually an overall Really Weird Historical Erasure, that's fascinating. Like to an extent the fictional barricade exists alongside and magnifies the glory of the historical barricade, but it's also, now, these days, the barricade people recognise; more people have heard of Enjolras than Charles Jeanne.

((...also I guess in Ninety-Three Gauvain is a viscount and Cimourdain - "His parents, peasants, in making a priest of him, had wished to remove him from the people; he had come back to the people." Which I don't want to, like, put any great meaning onto, because both Gauvain's familial relationship to Lantenac and Cimourdain's position as tutor are vital to the plot, but I guess the result is that it's not an exception.))

It's interesting that in some ways despite being SUPER RADICAL Hugo's poorer characters get...somewhat defined by how they act towards the order of things? it's the Amis for whom violent resistance is reserved; redemption via forgiveness and sacrifice of life for Marius & Cosette's happiness is what Eponine & Valjean get. Sorry to ramble at you!! I, just, yes, I think he's more comfortable with anger-on-behalf-of-others than for *oneself*. WITH GAVROCHE AS THE EXCEPTION HERE, I NOW REALISE (& Feuilly, although actually Feuilly's revolutionary fervour is explicitly again about other people, other causes than stemming direct from his own life).

...this is double weird because I'm *sure* someone mentioned an IRL model for Feuilly, and yet he gets like 26 words of dialogue. Also I guess because Hugo is trying to square everything onto this very Christian(/Deistical) sacrifice-for-others model if that...makes...sense?

Date: 2014-04-20 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
also to add obviously THAT IS NOT GOOD I DO NOT APPROVE OF REMOVING PEOPLE'S AGENCY IN THAT WAY

but also yes a Hugolian blindspot perhaps?

...also I mean, one of the revolutions he's mixing into his thoughts on the Amis is surely (like, textually mentioned repeatedly) June '48 and that's its own...uh....

maybe also it's the Yes In The Days When There Was One Republicanism And It Brought All People Together strain if that makes sense, which making everyone students kinda highlights re: 1832 as historical moment (/Feb 1848, though I have NO IDEA what the demographics of that was)

My apologies if this makes no sense.

(Also, '93 has Radoub! I MOMENTARILY FORGOT RADOUB. Who is (a) a good non-terrifying revolutionary and (b) not a viscount)

sleep-deprived ramblings

Date: 2014-04-07 07:09 pm (UTC)
fizzygingr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fizzygingr
Coming in a bit late here, but if I can just add a big WOW YES WOW to pilf's Communion Meals post. ESPECIALLY the part about the outsider becoming aware that he has a door open, and it's his choice whether to be a part of the community. Just. Wow.
The relationship between the meal and the subsequent Low Point is really interesting to consider. For Valjean, I think it's pretty clear that the bishop's kindness specifically drove him to steal the candlesticks. He had this moment of "Wait, the world's not rejecting me? But why not? I thought I was Bad?" And I think that in order to make sense of this, he had to prove to himself that he really was Bad. Or rather, he had to make himself Bad, so that they could reject him again. The grace of acceptance frightened him too much.
And for Grantaire, too, he hit his Low Point because he was reminded that he was a part of something. And that HURT, not so much because he didn't deserve it, but because that Something were all about to go get themselves killed. So like Valjean, he distanced himself to make it hurt less.
Ultimately, though, the meal showed them both that they had a choice to be a part of something, that they weren't locked out as much as they wished they could be (because wouldn't that make everything easier?), and that whether or not they belonged to humanity was their choice.
And they both chose to say, "J'en suis."

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