Skip to content

January 13, 2018


Les Misérables ch 10 – 14

by N@ncy


Update: 10.01.2018 –       ch 10   …very long reading today!

  1. I was glad I read the notes before I started this chapter.
  2. Two characters have a long conversation.
  3. One is L’évêque de Digne and the other is
  4. le conventional G.  (luminère inconnue)
  5. It seems Hugo has put much of himself,  his own thoughts
  6. and feelings about his exile into the mouth of
  7. le conventional G.  (luminère inconnue).

After a debate with ‘vieux scélerat de G.  Climax: Myriel’s political conversion. Irony: Myriel came to give a blessing but he receives one from G redoubling tenderness for ‘les souffrants’  Moral: Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. ch X


Update:  11.01.2018      ch 11 …flashback  1809-1815

This was a difficult chapter to follow in French.

Metaphors:  Hugo uses the metaphors between light and dark. M. Myriel had his bitter moments (heure d’amertume),  his clouded thoughts (son nuage). But he never lost sight of  the three pure lights: truth, justice and charity.

Napoléon:  was a surrogate father chosen by Hugo to replace his Royalist general father. Although Hugo’s father was loyal to Napoleon I, his mother sided with the Catholic Royalists. His father deserted the family for a mistress.

In this chapter the great writer in exile (Hugo) lets M. Myriel  give a touching analysis of the great fallen emperor Napoléon.


Symbol:   Imperial Legion of Honor medal created by Napoléon 1802 was changed by the Louis XVIII. The images of Napoleon and his eagle were removed and replaced by the image of King Henry IV.

Hugo relates the anecdote of a porter of the town hall.  He refused to wear the medal adorned with 3 fleur-de-lys (les trois crapauds = toads).

I tried to figure out why the comparison with toad?  I think this picture will explain!  You see the curved petal of the flower resembles the legs of the amphibian!


Late Empire Légionnaire insignia: the front feature Napoleons profile and the rear side of the medal , the imperial Eagle. An imperial crown joins the cross and the ribbon.

Louis XVIII era (1814) Knight insignia: the front features Henry IVs profile and the rear side of the medal  the arms of the French Kingdom (three fleurs de lis). A royal crown joins the cross and the ribbon.



Update:  12.01.208        ch 12 ….this was a puzzle!

  1. One of the shortest chapters….but one of the most confusing chapters.
  2. This chapter adds nothing to the narrative.
  3. It was  inserted  after the original publication date in 1862.
  4. Les Misérables  was expensive book  and
  5. …not accessible to the general reading public.
  6. The critiques were the first ones to print their reactions.
  7. Harsh criticism came from  Alexandre Dumas.
  8. Trivia: In 1833 Hugo  supported the accusations of plagerism against
  9. Dumas and his book The Three Muskateers.
  10. At that point friends became rivals.
  11. Dumas was quick to seek revenge.
  12. He described reading Les Misérables  “like wading through mud
  13. In ch XII Hugo alludes to Dumas
  14. “ils appellent Beauté la figure de Mousqueton…”
  15. But the last sentence ( in my opinion) is a direct jab at Dumas!
  16. He confuses the chasm, the  abyss of constellations and stars
  17. where Hugo lets his thoughts as a poet  and novelist roam
  18. …with the imprints left in the mud by ‘canards
  19. ….simple animals that plod along (Dumas).
  20. Dumas  was a  feuilletoniste who wrote
  21. …serials because he was pressed for cash.
  22. Hugo thought Dumas  wasted his talent.
  23. Hugo was haunted by shadows but the
  24. …darkness of the cosmos was his source of inspiration.


Update: 13.01.2108  ch 13 and 14     …end vol 1 book 1 – end of week 2!

  1. I read these chapters and  they were probably inserted to
  2. guide the narrative away from a contemplative ‘saint’.
  3. George Sand  deplored the use of a bishop of Digne to open a book
  4. …concerned about socialist issues.
  5. Hugo closes volume 1,  book 1 and we are ready for the real action!


Read more from Classic, French
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 13 2018

    🙂 thanks for the comment….What did you think of my ‘insights’ after this research?


  2. Jan 14 2018

    I’ve fallen behind a couple of chapters this w/e, but will hopefully catch up tonight after dinner.
    Thanks for finding the picture comparing the frog and the fleur-de-lys – it makes sense now.


  3. Jan 14 2018

    Mphadventuregirl….perhaps you would like (editor) Kathryn Grossman’s book “Les Misérables and its Afterlives Between Page, Stage and Screen”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: