Apr. 21st, 2014
Hi friends! After months of watching the Brick!Club read-along, I’m pretty excited to be joining in on this one! Les Miserables is the only book I’ve read by Hugo, so this is an entirely new one for me. I’d heard of Ninety-Three in the past, mostly mentioned in old Abaisse posts and in a piece of fan art I came across once and will probably be linking to you all later on, but I’d never even looked at it before beyond that. So here’s going! Glad I’m not the first person to post, especially because I don’t have nearly so much to say as everyone else. I’m a very associative reader, so you’re going to be getting a lot of, this reminds me of such-and-such, so sorry about that, and bear with me.
(Also I’ll be on dreamwidth under the same username.)
I know doeskin-pantaloons already talked about Hugo’s love of juxtaposing the beauty of nature with the horrors of war/humanity a la Waterloo, but I really like the description of the forest as tragic. It’s a striking image, tragedy mingled with so much growth. The idea that growing things are not only associated with tragedy, but are a part of it. In fact, in the list of flowers found in the forest, the narcissus is listed, and a quick google search yields that the Narcissus is another name for daffodils. The daffodil is widely considered a symbol for rebirth and new beginnings. The crocus meanwhile, is a symbol for hope and gladness.
(As for the flowers, the gladious is named for the Latin word for sword, as doeskin pointed out, and I can’t help that it reminds me of that bit in Enjolras’s description about the not caring about flowers unless they concealed a sword.)
So far new beginnings seem to be a running theme here, which isn’t surprising, considering Hugo. My translation lists not only gladious, narcissus, and crocus flowers, but birch trees, beech trees, and oaks, as well as heron and moor hen as being found in the forest in the space of like three paragraphs.
Celtic mythology uses the birch tree as a symbol of purification or renewal. Beech trees and oak trees both are known for protection, they are big and strong and sturdy. Pagan mythology puts the two together, like in this article:
“Beech is thought of as The Mother of the Woods. Beech is also known as the Beech Queen who's consort is the Oak King. Beech is known for her generosity of spirit, she gives both protection and nourishment, as she fans her branches out into a broad canopy that is useful for shelter and her beech nuts used to be a valuable food source.” (x)
One description I read of the moorhen described it as a “light in the darkness,” and the heron is symbolic of calmness, solitude, and tranquility amongst other things. Despite the tragic nature of this forest, everything in it is meant to calm, to protect, and give chance for growth. That’s a beautiful thought I think.
- Oh my goodness the entire army is adopting this family of four, and I can’t say how happy that makes me
- Two ladies! Two ladies talking and already getting along, and one of them being really adamant about helping the other, and I’m just really pleased by this.
- “How? You do not know who killed your husband?”
“Was it a Blue? Was it a White?”
“It was a bullet.”
And that’s really it for this time. Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far!