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January 12, 2018


Les Misérables ch 8 – ch 9

by N@ncy


Ch 8: 

  1. This was the most difficult chapter to read…so far)
  2. M. Myriel and the senator discuss their philosophy.


M. Myriel   ‘twists’ wise sayings to make his point! For example: “You’ ve made your bed now lie in it”. Now M. Myriel says to the senator:  You’ ve made your philosophy now lie in it”. Color:Vous êtes sur le lit pourpre”  = symbol of riches and upper class


Play on words:

The senator tells  l’évêque that he has all the philosophers ( books) with gilded edges [dorés sur tranche]. M. Myriel responds… subtly “Comme vous-même..” (as yourself = rich and superior in quality) 1. Having gilded edges, as the pages of a book. 2. Very wealthy


The senator poses many philosophical ideas in his conversation with M. Myriel. Researching these ideas would take many hours. I have chosen a few that caught my eye:

The senator boasts of having books by renowned thinkers in his library. Here Victor Hugo has some fun with a list of  philosophers that are so different.  What will the  senator’s philosophy look like if he combines these wise men?

  1. Marquis d’Argens – famous for his pornographic novel Thérèse Philosophe!
  2. Pyrrhon – founder of scepticism…true wisdom and happiness lie in suspension of judgment
  3. Hobbes – political theorist the only way to secure civil society is through universal submission to the absolute authority of a sovereign.
  4. M. NaigeonFrench materialist philosopher and atheist.


  1. Levé la jupe d’Isis [dress] – It took me a long time to find something I could understand about the myth of Isis. It seems the expression is ” levé la voile d’Isis” [veil]  and Hugo has used some editorial license and tweaked the words to accomdate his writing.
  2. The metaphor of Isis’ veil continued to circulate through the 19th century. By lifting the veil (or dress) of Isis it would reveal spiritual truths about nature that science could not.
  1. M. Myriel congratulates the senator because he has a philosophy that is truly his own!
  2. M. Myriel is happy that the belief in God is the philosophy of the people.
  3. pour les grands seigneurs:  oie aux marrons ( goose stuffed with chestnuts)
  4. pour le peuple:    dinde aux truffes du pauvre  (turkey stuffed with the poor)


Update: 09.01.20218

Fitness training has been cancelled today….so I  have 3 extra hours to read! Cats are snoozing and coffee is brewing, outside is spectre grey….as I start another day.

ch 9

  1. This chapter was easy reading in comparison to yesterday!
  2. Hugo uses a letter written by M. Myriel’s sister to
  3. help us understand how to view his character.
  4. Mme Baptistine tells us her brother is good….but has his quirky habits.
  5. Her greatest fear is still the unlocked doors...
  6. “Il s’expose à tous les dangers.”
  7. …but she is used to it [..le pil est pris]
  8. Foreshadowing: Hugo give a clear indication  in his sister’s letter
  9. …that something will happen soon:
  10. “The devil would enter the house, as one would let him do it”
  11. Le diable enterait dans la maison, qu’on le laisserait faire’

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 12 2018

    I on the other hand…have never read the book, seen the musical or movie version!
    I haven’t a clue what is going to happen! Thanks for your comment!


  2. M. Myriel is my favourite character! I love his humble integrity and wisdom! The closest character to him is Septimus Harding in Trollope’s The Warden. I so enjoyed your post, Nancy; as I sadly can’t participate fully, it’s encouraging to participate in this small way!



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