Valjean had a brief yet passionate affair with the door to the bishop's room (where the silver lives). This is pretty graphic.
"He pushed it gently with the tip of his finger, lightly, with the furtive and uneasy gentleness of a cat which is desirous of entering.
The door yielded to this pressure, and made an imperceptible and silent movement, which enlarged the opening a little.
He waited a moment; then gave the door a second and a bolder push.
It continued to yield in silence. The opening was now large enough to allow him to pass."
Then he finally stole the spoons. I liked the scene of Valjean looking at the sleeping bishop, although I think Hugo liked it more than I did. ("The moral world has no grander spectacle than this: a troubled and uneasy conscience, which has arrived on the brink of an evil action, contemplating the slumber of the just.")
The bishop saved V. from cops and gave him even more silver as a gift (yay? Mostly yay! Including as proof to poor messed up V. that people will sometimes help him and he doesn't need to be at war with everyone), and then said the gift came with conditions (which makes it much less cool) and made an unilateral decision about what morals V. should have and when (wha-huh?).
"“Do not forget, never forget, that you have promised to use this money in becoming an honest man.”
Jean Valjean, who had no recollection of ever having promised anything, remained speechless. The Bishop had emphasized the words when he uttered them. He resumed with solemnity:—
“Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.”"
I'm letting the weirdness slide because it's basically the bishop's JOB to Know Better and to make other people conform to his morals. The chapter title was rather a clue: "The Bishop Works".
V. took candy from a baby or something almost like that and had a Seeing Red moment: "he had done a thing of which he was no longer capable". I thought the psychological angle was pretty cool: it took a while for V.'s change of heart to catch up with him. He went with habit / previous convictions, it felt wrong, THEN he rethought his life.
Fantine Three I
A lot of tiny historical details about 1817, the kind that wouldn't be mentioned in accounts of Big History. Cool idea! I wonder if the Latvian translation has footnotes... that is, if I ever see it. Gutenberg.org is SO MUCH more handy for reading in the trolley-bus than a massive volume of physical book. Which I have yet to successfully borrow.
Some students and working girls introduced.
"Fantine was a good girl." *groans*
Furthermore, the narrator goes out of his way to assure us that she was a good girl EVEN THOUGH she had a
"Fantine was beautiful, and remained pure as long as she could. She was a lovely blonde, with fine teeth." *headdesk*
"She worked for her living; then, still for the sake of her living,—for the heart, also, has its hunger,—she loved. I like this sentence, especially reading "loved" in a broad sense.
"There is a way of avoiding which resembles seeking." Nice
In the description of her beau Tholomyes: "he replaced ..his health with irony"
"It is hard nowadays to picture to one’s self what a pleasure-trip of students and grisettes to the country was like, forty-five years ago." You think you have it bad, narrator? Try 200 years and a different country.
Gender, gender everywhere... ugh. Though "Favourite, Blachevelle’s friend, ..ran on in front under the great green boughs, jumped the ditches, stalked distractedly over bushes, and presided over this merry-making with the spirit of a young female faun." Female faun! There's something you don't see often.
"He was very gay, but one felt the force of government in him" Yes, I am making fun of vocabulary changes since this edition was translated (1887).
"Nothing was sacred to him; he smoked."
And then the narrator fetishizes sexual inexperience in women.
Countryside openly compared to Paradise (Fantine about to fall and/or be exiled)
"You always have a queer look about you" I don't intend to stop with the cheap shots at words.
"There was once a fairy who created the fields and forests expressly for those in love" NOBODY TOLD ME THIS WAS FANTASY
“I offer you asses!”
I accidentally read the following two chapters in the wrong order and didn't notice because so little happened in them. So I'll just leave Ch. V for the next post.
Favorite lied to a guy that she loves him, so he'd give her money. She was sad. Also, probably malnourished. (There are no peas in the market? That's not good. I wonder if she can afford meat.) :c The things we do for food and security and all those other undeniably important goals like this... (I thought it was an awesomely poignant turn to the idyllic countryside shenanigans and added some much-needed character depth to the girls.)
A girl was once called Favorite.
Reluctant and sad hypocrite,
she hated a dude,
but ran short of food
and flattered him lickety-split.