Dak Reads Les Misérables / MARIUS: Book 7


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Marius: Book 7; A Rhombus of Villainy (and a list of other bad dudes)

Time for a break from Marius and his crazy pants for an: Actual Bad Guys Alert! This is actually all this short chapter is about. First, a long explanation comparing mines to the strata of society. Here’s a list of people from the top going down to the bottom of this mine analogy: Jan Hus > Luther > Descartes > Voltaire > Condorcet > Robespierre > Marat > Babeuf

Way down at the bottom is a black hole of evil and crime, and that is where we find the next giant list of characters that are going to be introduced to us. A quartet of bandits were ruling the night around Paris in the early 1830’s, and we are going to learn about them now!

First up is Gueulemer. He’s the big dumb lazy brawn of the group. He’s described as having “a colossus’s body and bird’s skull.” So now I’m imaging he looks like a goomba from that live-action Super Mario Brothers movie. Good luck removing that image from your head. You’re welcome! He could have used his brute power for good by capturing bad guys, but chose to become a bad guy instead.

Babet is the opposite of Gueulemer. He’s a thin shrewd man who doesn’t give away any of his secrets. He sells plaster busts of “The head of the Government,” as well as being one of those street tooth-pulling guys.

Babet had been a family man and a traveled with them once upon a time. He read the papers, which is a rare thing in the circles he runs in and bemoaned the fact that his wife never gave birth to a child with a goat face. This didn’t come out of nowhere. It wasn’t like he was yearning for a goat-faced child. He’d just read about such an event once, and that could have made them a lot of money. He left his family so he could take on Paris.

Claquesous is the most mysterious of the group. Nobody knows where he lives, nobody knows his name (Claquesous is a nickname.) Nobody knows what he looks like, he either wears a mask or lurks in the darkness. He only talks to people with his back turned.

Montparnasse is the youngest and I get the impression most deadly of the bunch. Not even twenty, he’s a fresh faced kid, bringing the pretty to the underworld party. By eighteen he had a stack of bodies in his wake already. Daaaamn, boyfriend. He is a gamin turned assassin, and his reason for being a murdering marauder is simply this: He wants to be the best dressed dude in Paris. (What? Is he disposing of the competish? Or is he stealing their finery? Or just stealing their money so he can buy new clothes? All of the above? What is your game, Montparnasse!?)

Even though his coat is a bit threadbare, Montparnasse is the fashion plate of the group. He wears his hat at a jaunty angle so he can show off a lock of hair as is the fashion. He keeps a flower in his buttonhole. He was “gentle, effeminate, graceful, robust, weak and ferocious.”

Does anybody else want to see some sort of dandy-off between Bamatabois, Bahorel, and Montparnasse? Fierce Mustache vs. Rash Waistcoat vs. Deadly Dandy. One of the events can be waistcoat layering! Bonus points for each extraneous fob watch chain!

bamatabois bahorel montparnasse Image Map

 

This band of characters was known as Patron-Minette. They were basically a pimple on the butt of society, if I had to put it into different words. If anybody needed any shady business done, then these were the guys to see.

Now this quartet weren’t single..err..eight handedly? perpetrating all the crime in all of Paris associated with Patron-Minette. Here is a big long list of the gang’s lower echelons:

Panchaud, aka Printainier, aka Bigrenaille,

Brujon. (There is a whole dynasty of Brujons that I am being informed we will be learning about later),

Boulatruelle. (See! I knew we would hear about him again! If you don’t remember and you hate links, Boulatruelle is the friendly former convict who saw Jean Valjean go into the woods with his treasure chest of money outside of Montfermeil. You know, when there was talk of Valjean belonging to some mysterious roaming pack of thieves. What are we describing now? A roaming pack of thieves? See, how it all comes together!)

Laveuve,
Finistère,
Homer Hogu (a black man),
Mardisoir,
Dépâche,
Fauntleroy, aka Bouquetière,
Glorieux (former convict),
Barrecarrosse, aka M. Dupont,
Lesplande-du-Sud,
Poussagrive,
Carmagnolet
Kruideniers aka Bizarro (aka best alias yet!)
Mangedentelle,
Les-pieds-en-l’air,
Demi-liard aka Deux-milliards,
and etc…

Hey! Why stop there, Hugo? We should learn the name of each and every bandit ever associated with Patron-Minette and their little dogs too!

There’s a few more paragraphs about how these goblins among men rule the night and the only thing that can slay them is the daylight, and that is it for this chapter!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these last few relatively short installments, because the next one is nearly 100 pages long, so I’m predicting a lot of crazy stuff is going to go down and we’ll have about a thousand new characters to learn about. Either that, or it’s one hundred pages about something only tangentially related to the story, like the history of Parisian cobblestones or something. I will leave you in suspense!

Until the next time!

Dak Reads Les Misérables / COSETTE: Book 2


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers.


BOOK 2
:
The Devil Came to Montfermeil 

 

You guys are not going to believe what just happened while we were over in Belgium pontificating about Waterloo for sixty pages!

If you guessed that Valjean got recaptured, then you would be right. Seriously, Valjean. What are you doing, bro?

In any case we aren’t going to get any details about how that happened at all, which is a first for this novel. Suffice it to say that our dear Valjean has a new number that nobody is going to remember, since 24601 has been fully imprinted onto all our brains with the power of song now.

The shiny new number of record is 9430 though. Let’s have a quick look at what happened post escaping Javert in Montrieul sur Mer by piecing together bits of information from some newspaper articles:

Jean Valjean had withdrawn about half a mil of his legitimately earned money from his bank account and stashed it somewhere during his time of escape. Nobody knows where. He was recaptured near Montfermeil in Paris. He mounted no defense, even when they found him guilty of being part of a band of thieves that have been thieving around the area. Which is suspect at best. I mean, we’re pretty short on details about what he’s been doing during this escape, but I doubt Valjean would be hooking up with a bunch of criminals at this point in his life.

At first he was sentenced to death. Oh, no! But if that happened the this book would be really…okay, it would still be really long. Luckily the sentence that was commuted to life of hard labour. Just how lucky that is depends on your opinion about working on a chain gang for the rest of your live long days.

In order to advance the story, we must have a few words regarding superstitions about the devil in Montfermeil. It has been told that sometimes, under the cover of darkness, a strange being can be seen lurking around the forests. It appears to have horns and is said to be the devil burying his treasure.

If you were to go up to this devil and have a chat with him you will see that it is just a guy toting a pitchfork on his back. Guess nothing irks the Devil more than having to chat with people while he’s trying to bury his treasure incognito, because if you talk to him, you will die within the week.

If you see him and don’t talk to him, but instead dig up his treasure then you will die in a month.

If you ignore the devil and run away then you will live for a whole year… then you die.

Most opt for option two, because at least they get some treasure out of the deal and they are going to perish no matter what.

I don’t know why, because the devil’s treasure is pretty crappy. Sometime’s there’s a bit of money, but mostly it consists of things like bloody skeletons and pennies or maybe gunpowder that will make your gun explode in your face. I’m not seeing the upside to this “treasure”

Back to the real world we go, where a old convict and drunkard named Boulatruelle has been lurking in and about the woods. Nobody trusts him because he is just too darn nice (He even smiles at gendarmes! The nerve of that guy!) The gossip is that he is part of a band of thieves. Is this band of thieves going to come in play later, because this is shout out number two for these guys? I’m not sure of anything any more. That’s why I’ll mention Boulatruelle by name. Everybody’s paths keep intertwining, even characters I thought we would never see again.

The townsfolk of Montfermeil are wondering what Boulatruelle is up to anyway, and maybe he’s seen that Devil of legend. It’s the logical explanation considering his recent creeping in and out of the woods.

A certain innkeeper (it’s Thénardier, you guys!) decides the best way to get to the bottom of this mystery is to ply the drunk with drinks. Of course, this takes a whole lot of drinks, and he’s still pretty tight lipped.

Boulatruelle reveals eventually, through bits and pieces, that he saw a man he recognized go into the woods with a little chest, a pick axe, and a spade. This strange man comes out without the chest so Boulatruelle has been searching the woods for the treasure it must have contained, because what would be kept in a small chest besides piles money?

Now that the tale of Boulatruelle has been covered we’re going to go back to Toulon, where the ship Orion has come to port.  It’s in for repairs and so we can get another history lesson about French wars and revolutions.

Well, the ship is being repaired when one of the men gets caught up in some line and is left dangling far above the decks. Nobody dares to go up there and save him, because it’s a really dangerous job and nobody is up for the task.  There is a mass of spectators watching this unfold, because they came to see the great warship.  It was a big deal back then.

 

These spectators become witnesses to this terrible accident when suddenly! They spot a convict climbing up the rigging on his way to rescue the dangling man, who is getting weaker by the second as he tries to hang on. They can tell this savior is a convict by his clothes and they can tell he’s a lifer by his hat, and they are surprised to see his white hair when the hat blows away. This man of incredible strength is no spring chicken.

The crowd calls out for his pardon once the man is saved. Yes! Pardons all around! I agree, crowd. But soon, this now unchained convict is falling into the water, in between ships. He doesn’t come back up for air, and they can’t find the body despite dredging near the docks. He is declared dead.

This convict? We keep his big reveal to the end of the chapter, even though we all knew damn well who it was as soon as the word convict was mentioned. If not, then the white hair and the fact that Jean Valjean can simply not help himself from helping others in mortal peril probably did. You see, when nobody stepped up to help the poor man, Valjean asked to be freed so that he might take the chance.

Since the guy in charge of this particular chain gang at the time was not a Javert, he released Valjean from the chain.

   Oops.

his is jailbreak #6 for those of you keeping score at home, and on top of that, everybody is now convinced that he’s dead. I take it all back. Jean Valjean is still the worst at hiding, but he has got to be some kind of escaping mastermind!