Sunday, September 22, 2013

I am Agog! I am Aghast!

(Is Mel writing about Les Mis at last?)

Hello, fellow fans of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables - I'm back! But though it took me a really, really long narrative time to reach the point of something happening in Volume 3: Marius, it seems that pretty soon, it's probably going to turn out that there might be some actual action on the page. Let's get through:
A simple meal, a quiet life...
all a man needs.
Book Fifth - The Excellence of Misfortune

So, Marius is nobly indigent. His clothes are shoddy. He's earning an honest pittance at a publishing job. "He lived on it. How? Not so badly. We will explain." (p.453) I just bet we will. In short, he has a hovel overhead, not much in the way of clothing, eats a lot of bread, and is totally full of himself for living this life. He won't go into debt. "He even said to himself, that a creditor is worse than a master; for the master possesses only your person, a creditor possesses your dignity and can administer to it a box on the ear." (p.454)

Meanwhile, he's still crazy about his dear departed dad, and to a lesser but still freakish extent, old Thenardier who "rescued" him at Waterloo. (Remember Waterloo?) (Hi to my husband's cousin's daughter's roommate, BTW! You remember Waterloo, don't you?) Marius's grandfather is super-pouty about Marius's desertion of him in the no-good father's honor. "There are fathers who do not love their children; there exists no grandfather who does not adore his grandson." (p.455) And also, "Old men need affection as they need the sun." (p.455) So this estrangement isn't so good for Gillenormand.

Sigh. I'd love to tell you more about all this, but you see, there was that church warden who first told Marius about his father's banishment from his life. And Hugo says, "As we shall see M. Mabeuf again, later on, a few words will not be superfluous." (p.458) As if Hugo is any kind of judge about what is superfluous! Still, I give him props for these fun descriptive details:

  • "He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often returned with two." (p.458)
  • "He had... no teeth, either in his mouth or his mind...." (p.458)

Anyway, let's leave the bookish old man alone - at the moment, Marius only sees him a couple of times a month. What he loves to do almost daily is take long walks about Paris, thinking Deep Thoughts, socializing more often, observing the world, etc. (He would go out ut: broke. He can't afford a carriage, and walking gets his boots dirty, and "in a drawing-room you may be soiled everywhere except on your shoes. In order to insure a good reception there, only one irreproachable thing is asked of you; your conscious? No, your boots." (p.461))

Let's keep following Marius on his walks, shall we? You never know who he'll run across! Oh, wait. No. Hugo diverts again - back to Sad Grandpa Gillenormand. He's busy ranting about what he guesses Marius is doing with his free time. (Rabble-rousing.) "The nineteenth century is poison. The first scamp that happens along lets his beard grow like a goat's, thinks himself a real scoundrel, and abandons his old relatives. He's a Republican, he's a romantic." (p.463) (Kids these days!)

His daughter brings in the nephew she adores, Theodule, who just nods along with the rant. And even though he agrees that "Students deliberating on the National Guard,-such a thing could not be seen among the Ogibewas nor the Cadodaches! [sic] Savages who go naked, with their noodles dressed like a shuttlecock, with a club in their paws, are less of brutes than those bachelors of arts!" (p.464), Sad Grandpa doesn't decide to love him best of all. (Yes, I included that last part because: noodles dressed like a shuttlecock!)

No comments:

Post a Comment