bobbiewickham: Kalinda Sharma of The Good Wife (Default)
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Since discussion is slowing down here, I'm going to make this post the one thread for all posts about Sections 1-7 of the Massacre of Saint-Barthelemy. Today on our calendar we're up to Section 4, but feel free to post anything about any section here!

Date: 2014-06-26 03:09 pm (UTC)
thjazi: Sketch of goofy smiling Enjolras (Default)
From: [personal profile] thjazi
OH THANK GOODNESS, I just cannot keep track of the sections at ALL and it's blocking me.

That said, and without any deeper commentary atm, HAS ANYONE ELSE GOT TO THE BIT WITH THE BOOK, OH SWEET MERCY, I CRIED.

Date: 2014-06-27 03:09 pm (UTC)
thjazi: Sketch of goofy smiling Enjolras (Default)
From: [personal profile] thjazi
I AM SO UPSET. BABIES ALL ALONE. I mean, I was cringing from the point the book was introduced, of course, because it was obvious what would happen-- that's not even Hugolian Foreshadowing, it's "basic knowledge of children"-- but it still stings.

BUT THE BABIES ARE COMPLETELY ON THEIR OWN FOR ALL THIS TIME?!? no one even comes to take their dishes away. Or bring them water. Or clean them. IF THEY CAN BE HAPPY TAKING APART A BOOK THEN GOOD FOR THEM, but I think it says volumes (badum-ching, but that's the right word, darn it) about just how ignorant Lantenac really is about the Torgue. I mean, besides the whole "evil piece of stain is seriously gonna kill three babies to make a point" factor.

Date: 2014-06-30 12:34 am (UTC)
primeideal: Multicolored sideways eight (infinity sign) (Default)
From: [personal profile] primeideal

This book messed me up. I mean, all of Ninety-Three, yes, but this book specifically. I will talk more about my neuroses in due time, no doubt, but for now, let’s put it this way; I read this book in summer 2013. I took European history in 2007-8. In the intervening half-decade, I retained my knowledge that there was…like…something? In French history? Called the “St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre”? And I was, like “oh, hey. France. Historical allusion…thing…yes? Hugo, why, why are we talking about history when you have these, like, babies, who are doing, like, random stuff? I don’t remember? And wait wasn’t the Massacre several hundred years before the Revolution? Or am I remembering it wrong because it’s like five years ago Hugo what are you doing there is no plot, why are we…” So I just had this feeling of “there is some historical allusion I’m missing OR IS THERE” hanging over my head and getting to me for pages and pages. Normally, I would take this opportunity to point you to Wikipedia and tell you exactly what the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre meant to French history, but I’m not going to do that. You can find it on your own, or just suffer through the impending “but what’s happening, seriously” unease like I did.

So. Here we go.

"men are more dull" Ah, yes, weird sex double-standards even for babies! But it’s kind of cute in this case.

"René-Jean looked like a little Hercules" I would say this is just "aww, cute baby making fists like a big strong man," but with all the other Greek allusions maybe there’s more to it than that? Hercules as a baby killed some giant snakes for the heck of it and then played with them on his cot.

"All three were in rags; the clothes that the battalion of Bonnet-Rouge had given them were in tatters;" Michelle’s clothes have worn out too.

"They had everybody for master, and no one for a father." Parallels the reunion dialogue between Cimourdain and Gauvain? It’s not enough just to have a system of authority set up, they also need a more familial love. Maybe the Bonnet-Rouge gave them that.

"contains a strange, unconscious appeal to eternal justice;" Even babies who don’t know what they’re doing are capable of inspiring thought in other people—"hey, we’re born into a capricious world, but there are some universal truths at play and we deserve justice too." Whether anyone will sit up and take listen…that’s another story.

"Misfortune, if it comes, will be an abuse of confidence." Lantenac’s guys have already super-abused the "confidence" that the children "placed" in them, definitely setting the kids up for misfortune.

"the cradle has a Yesterday, as much as the tomb has a Tomorrow;" I forget where I read the analysis of Hugo’s worldview that pointed to this paragraph and was like "…really?" But yeah, this is a thing. I don’t…subscribe to all of the cosmology? But so it goes.

"in these honest trees, in this sincere verdure, in this pure, peaceful country, in these sounds from nests, from brooks, flies, leaves, above which the vast innocence of the sun shone resplendent." Lots of description of the beautiful outside world. At least in this subchapter, there’s basically no description of the room that they’re being imprisoned in.

"From time to time, she renounced civilization and ate with her fingers." For a twenty-month-old with no parents on the scene, it strikes me as a little impressive that she’s using a spoon even that much? Or is it? I don’t really know how fast kids mature that way, hahaha.

"Then from the edge of the forest rose a distant but clear voice," I’m guessing "clear" is probably Gauvain, who’s "less harsh, but firm," as opposed to Cimourdain ("short and stern")? Doesn’t really matter.

"Don’t hurt it," said René-Jean. <- Philosophy even from the little kids; even though the bug stings you, we shouldn’t hurt it.

"a perfect archipelago of reefs;" <- Begins an extended metaphor about travelling at sea, calling back to the beginning.

"the great ladder lying against the wall just reached to this window," <- Georgette is able to make use of the ladder for her own purposes, even though she doesn’t know it could be useful for, like, saving her life and stuff.

"It is a female." <- How do you know so much about bugs, René-Jean?

"Other events followed that of the woodlouse." Quite. Amid all the revolutionary stuff, even the babies have their own sequence of "historical" events, following each other.

"He has gone home," said René-Jean. <- The narrator also describes the bee as a "he," as well as an "it," and a "housewife"(!) If it’s the sort that leaves the hive, it’s probably a working female anyway. Oh well.

"No," replied René-Jean, "It is a fly." <- Doesn’t even see the "monster" potential in the bee, which is capable of stinging and hurting it. (Last chapter, again, Gros-Alain pointed out the woodlouse’s stinging potential and René-Jean took the gentler approach.)

"The good God is doing that." aaid René-Jean. <- Distantly manipulating the forces of history to give rise to the revolutionary success in the long run? Quick, put your weighty metaphors in the mouths of a cute kid so they don’t look heavy-handed.

"Three years copies four years; but twenty months keeps its independence." Haha, this is adorable. I wonder if the boys feel closer to each other by virtue of being boys?

"Beings seem like phantoms to young children." She’s looking at the busts of the old scholars; they’re sort of ghosts, representatives of a previous age.

"It was a soldier of the Blues from the encampment on the plateau who, taking advantage of the truce and perhaps infringing on it a little, had ventured to the edge of the ravine where he could look into the library." Maybe one of the Bonnet-Rouge concerned about "their" children? Or just another concerned soldier who’s heard the story like everyone else?

"It was perhaps one of the toys which Gauvain had played with when he was a child." D’awwwwww.

"which would have shocked Dante and charmed Virgil." Literary allusion in the middle of a library.

"No," replied René-Jean, "it is a stick." <- Wow okay we really do have a theme going here. Gros-Alain anthropomorphizes all the dangerous entities around him, René-Jean shuts him down every time he tries to concentrate on their potential for violence. And Georgette is caught in-between, only able to give rise to one syllable at a time.


I’m not going to. Talk about the chapter. As a narrative. Right now? I can do that next time I guess. It won’t be any more coherent or thoughtful. So. Whatever.

I’m just going to fall back into “here’s a Wikipedia link I Googled because I have no life” mode for one more subchapter. That seems fair.

"the famous publisher of the Bible in 1682, Blœuw, in Latin, Cœsius." It’s relatively hard to find a source for this family that is not this paragraph. But they existed. Here’s one French link.

You have more luck searching for “Blaeu” as a spelling; I think this gives you the right link to a description of the famous 1682 Bible.

"that beautiful Arabian paper so much admired by Edrisi" Edrisi was a medieval Arab geographer and mapmaker.

"Halle Saint Mathurin" Saint-Mathurin is a location in the Vendée.

"Gryphes, who are to Lyons" The Gryphes family were famous book printers.

"Elzévirs are to Amsterdam." Another famous bookmaking dynasty. Fun fact: there’s a scientific publisher called Elsevier today (named after them) that some of my professors/TAs from undergrad have boycotted.

"the Apostol at Moscow." First printed book in Russia?

"Saint Bartholomew’s picture tore crosswise, but that was not René-Jean’s fault;" <- this is a book about unintended consequences *emphatically avoids starting a rant about babies because you do not want to hear me*

"that after having been flayed in Armenia, Saint-Bartholomew was quartered in Brittany." Bartholomew the Apostle. His saint’s day is in August (which is when this chapter is set); I know this because I once heard a sermon that was like “welp, it’s August, and I’m bored with the liturgical calendar too, so I looked it up and apparently there’s an apostle we celebrate today? Let’s go with that.”

Bartholomew is usually identified with Nathanael, who hears his brother Philip talking about Jesus, from Nazareth. Nathanael’s response is, and I quote, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Which…probably speaks to the rural-versus-urban divide here.

Okay, so with the exception of Elsevier being a controversial publishing house and Bartholomew being recognized in August, I knew literally none of this stuff, even it being my second time around. How did I find out? Because I bleeping Googled it because in this day and age we bleeping preserve and disseminate our bleeping sources of knowledge with the wider bleeping—

I’m going to be quiet now.


I said I’d be done with the Wikipedia copy-pasting and back to my thoughts in this chapter, right?


Maybe…not the maintag or somewhere, idk.

Gavantus: Italian priest (named Bartholomew, also in the “Barnabite” order)

Fabricio Pignatelli: Italian duke

Father Stilting: Jesuit publisher maybe?

Cornelius a Lapide: Dutch commentator

Henry Hammond: English theologian

Pope Gelasius: probably the first one

like all of it I guess
I don’t like disingenuity. I don’t like people putting words in my mouth. And I don’t like being patted on the back and being told I’m one of the good guys, when it is logically clear that sometimes I am not.

This section is less upsetting to me than it was for the first time around, for a couple reasons. One is knowing the overarching plot of “93” as a whole; in particular, even if the babies had somehow known not to destroy the book, would it have made much of an impact? Might it have been burned down anyway, or otherwise perhaps ravaged/forgotten/destroyed? Obviously, I can’t give details, but at least I know who’s going to do what next and I can resent characters who are more actively horrible, rather than clueless babies. (The second reason is a couple details I noticed this time that I glazed over the first—I’ll probably write a fic at some point to spell out that connection.)

Knowing who we do and don’t have yet to meet changes the way I’ve viewed the entire book, of course. When we met L’Imânus, I went back to the introduction of Lantenac to be like “remember how horrible he was? Well, check out /this/ jerk, ahaha.” But, obviously, I didn’t want to take advantage of Lantenac’s introduction to be like “spoilerz guys he’s not the only antagonist out there.” Especially when we had yet to name him.

All the same, I was sort of distant throughout the “here’s mysterious peasant/here he is being inexorable/well this guy saved his life, how dare you be merciful Tellmarch you goof/now he’s massacring a small village oops.” Partly, that’s just avoiding spoilers. Partly, that’s because people were picking up on foreshadowing that I completely and utterly missed the first time I read the book, I didn’t just want to be like “wow you’re super observant” but rather preserve some sense of suspense.

And. The empathy thing. I struggle with it. And I don’t want to be like “I can’t stand myself for the way I get worked up over fictional trivalities when I’m numb to the concerns of too many real people” because on a website where lots of people have emotions about fictional works, I don’t want the response of “emotions about fiction, we all have them, join the party.” To dwell too much on my own potential for real-life callousness would probably seem self-absorbed, and you guys don’t want me to run through my catalog of neuroses, probably wouldn’t care that no, it probably is worse for me.

But even within the scope of the fictional work, the first time around, I found the destruction of the book disproportionately affecting. And I know that I am being blamed for this. For my own callousness, real and fictional alike—for my own smallminded universalism, my own unwillingless to use violence in the cause of progress, that even Gauvain the soldier can sometimes manage. For my own allegiance to the established Christianity of my own day and age—not even an institutionalized Catholicism that gives me enough background to understand all the saints’ allusions.

I resent myself, and I don’t want your empathy. I wouldn’t know what to do with it, anyway.

All right, well, before we get anywhere…I sort of did a thing. It’s a…prequel fix-it fic? Which shouldn’t really be compatible genres but it works in my head. About a thousand words, mostly dialogue, will post soon. Unless anyone wants to look it over first/give me tagging advice so I don’t set bad precedents when I unleash a new fandom onto Ao3? ;)

"drew out the bag of straw which took the place of a mattress, dragged it to the window," What a rebel. Knowledgeable enough to know what the bedding is, independent enough to take it out of the crib and move it somewhere else where he can get a better view of nature.

"all three together were not nine years old" Wow, Hugo really likes adding up the ages of young people, which is ironic because he’s not really about the arithmetic, is he.

"as though the breath from their sweet breasts was of consequence to the universe" Although the construction of the sentence makes it clear that it really isn’t. Can they impact the plot, as agents, or is it the sublimity of creation that acts instead?

"Boom!" <- Georgette sums up more of the grandiose action of the revolution in one syllable.


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