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Chapter 3.1.6, "L'âme de la terre passe dans l'homme," translated as "The Soul of the Earth Absorbed by Men," or (somewhat confusingly incompletely) as "The Spirit of the Place." Discuss away!

Date: 2014-06-04 05:02 pm (UTC)
primeideal: Multicolored sideways eight (infinity sign) (Default)
From: [personal profile] primeideal
"There were two Vendées, Great Vendée, which carried on the forest war; and Little Vendée, which carried on the war of the thickets," Okay, yeah, we’ve discussed a difference between the related but distinct uprisings. War in the Vendée, and the one Hugo praises more, the Chouannerie (actually in Brittany).

"Can one imagine a tempest of peasants attacking Paris? a coalition of villages besieging the Panthéon?" Okay, we get the point—the peasants were good at playing defense, but they had no new ideas of their own to offer and couldn’t get anywhere if they attacked the more modern, central area. This makes sense. But then we get into…

"a pack of Christmas carols and orisons barking around the Marseillaise?" What a bizarre metaphor! The disembodied songs just fighting each other!

"a crowd of sabots rushing on a legion of intellects?" Well, actually, yes, I can imagine that. Unless the intellects are supposed to be disembodied forces that the guns can’t attack.

"that almost always because of the fatal influence of environment, the one is struggling for an ideal, and the other for prejudices." These digressions are just much more…amusing the second time around, now that I don’t feel the pressure to take them seriously. Mountain people are brilliant and sublime, forest people are just literally backwoodsy? I mean at a certain point, all you can do is laugh.

"Communism! Communism!" cried the heroes of Marat. <- Again, out of context, it just seems kind of funny to imagine a bunch of people yelling "Communism!" That’s my contemporary US-viewpoint talking.

"In sight of some wild landscapes, one is tempted to exonerate man, and incriminate creation;" The convention digression mentioned that sometimes we shouldn’t blame the revolutionaries, they’re just going along with fate. This take is more "they’re just responding to nature…" But at the same time, nature can be beautiful even in the dark, backwards forests (opening scene), and humans can create new buildings and institutions for themselves (the Convention) which in turn shape the character of those who come after them.

"conscience may be gigantic, as with Jesus and Socrates; it may be dwarfed, as with Atreus and Judas." Mentioning Jesus (and then Judas, I guess) in the midst of all this foresty stuff could be a shoutout to the Garden of Gethsemane? Where even Jesus struggled with the "I don’t really want to go through all of this and get killed" anxiety, and then Judas showed up to betray him. But the garden is adjacent to the Mount of Olives, so we have the mountain imagery coming back there too. Although the sentence is actually about the desert, now that I read it again—and sure enough, there’s also a narrative of Jesus going into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. There’s more, but probably tangential.

"Country, Fatherland,—these two words comprise the whole Vendéan war; a quarrel of the local idea with the universal idea; peasants against patriots." But even fighting for the republican France can become a local idea, if it puts republicans at odds with universal values.


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