Saturday, June 22, 2013

Learning from Les Miserables: Week 6-8

Last year I tried to complete "Les Miserables" as part of a year-long read. I had barely started the book before life got in the way and I wasn't able to finish the story. This year I am determined to get through the entire thing. Here is the post I made at the beginning of my read and here is the one for Weeks 4 & 5. Below are notes to catalogue my read. At the moment it's mostly diction and events and persons I'm unfamiliar with. As I read further I hope to make posts filled with questions and insights into characters and plot points. Do not read this if you don't want the book to be spoiled.

Week 6

Frans Hals circa 1649-1700
Rene Descartes - 1596–1650
He was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer, dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy'.  Much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day.

Richardson "Pamela" - An epistolary novel (novel composed of a series of letteers) written by Samuel Richardson, first published in 1740. It tells the story of a beautiful 15-year old maidservant named Pamela Andrews, whose nobleman master, Mr. B, makes unwanted advances towards her after the death of his mother, whose maid she was since age 12.

Author unknown 1665
Baruch Spinoza - 1632-1677
He was a philosopher whose importance was not fully realized until years after his death. By laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism including modern conceptions of the self and, arguably, the universe,he came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy. His magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics in which he opposed Descarte's mind-body dualism, has earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy's most important thinkers.

Etching after portrait by de Reisner Circa
Marc-Antoine Madeleine Desaugiers - 1772-1827
He was a French composer, dramatist and song-writer.

Harridans - A strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman

Artist unknown
Apuleius - 125 - 180CE
He was a Latine prose writer who studied Platonist philosophy in Athens. Once he was accused of using magic to gain the attentions of a wealthy widow. He distributed a work he wrote in his own defense known as the Apologia.

Manon Lescaut - An opera in fourt acts by Giacomo Puccini. The story is based on a novel by the Abbe Prevost.

Artist unknown
Aspasia - 470BCE - 400BCE
A Milesian woman famous for her involvement with the Athenian statesman Pericles. Little is known about her life but she may have influenced Pericles and Athenian politics. She is mentioned in the writings of Plato, Aristophanes and Xenophon.

Syllogism - A formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion Ex. "No foxes are birds"
"All parrots are birds"
"No parrots are foxes"

Copy of Ktesilas Artist unknown
Pericles -  495BCE - 429BCE
He was the most prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general of Athens during the Golden Age - specifically the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars.

Fustian - A coarse sturdy cloth made of cotton and flax

Physiognomist - A person who judges human character based on facial features

Charles Antoine Guillaume Pigault-Lebrun - 1753-1835
He twice carried off young ladies of some position, and was in consequence twice imprisoned. The first died almost immediately after her elopement; the second, Mlle de Salens, he married. He became a soldier in the Queen's Guards, then a very unsuccessful actor, and a teacher of French. He also wrote more than twenty plays. 

Cosette is Cinderella! She has evil "step sisters" a terrible mother who makes her do chores and she lives in squalor.

Week 7

Recondite - Little known or secret

Vetch - Any of several climbing plants of the legume family, bearing pealike flowers, esp. Vicia sativa, cultivated for forage and soil improvement

 "The supreme happiness in life is the assurance of being loved for oneself, even in spite of oneself."

"Soul gropes for soul and finds it."

"One would not exchange one's darkness for all light."

"We are radiant in our darkness."

I'm surprised by how many gems I keep finding sprinkled throughout. Hugo has these profound quotes interspersed

Faubourg - An ancient French term that could be defined as "suburb"

Savoyards - A dialect of Arpitan (Franco-Provençal). It is spoken in some territories of the historical Duchy of Savoy, nowadays a geographic area spanning France and Switzerland.
Calumny - The making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone's reputation; slander

Educable - Capable of being educated or taught

"Animals are nothing but the portrayal of our virtues and vices made manifest to our eyes, the visible reflections of our souls."

Javert hates himself. I would feel bad for him if he wasn't such a douche.

Garde Champetre - A garde champêtre (rural guard) is the combination of a forest ranger, game warden and police officer in certain rural communes in France. Their job is to report to the local mayor. Many of these officers wear green uniforms and many carry firearms. They fall under the general supervision of the Gendarmerie.

By Achille Deveria 19thC
Eugene Francois Vidocq - 1775 - 1857
He was a French criminal and criminalist whose life story inspired several writers, including Victor Hugo and Honore de Balzac.  The former criminal became the founder and first director of the crime-detection Surete Nationale as well as the head of the first known private detective agendy.  Vidocq is considered to be the father of modern criminology and of the French police department. Her is also regarded as the first private detective Vautrin - A character from the novels of French writer Honore de Balzac in the La Comedie humaine series. His real name is Jacques Collin. He appears in the novels Le Pere Goriot (Father Goriot, 1834/35) under the name Vautrin.

By Karl Vogel Von Vogelstein ca1810
Joseph de Maistre - 1753 - 1821
He was a Savoyard philosopher, writer, diplomat and lawyer.  He defended hierarchichal societies and a monarchical state in the period immediately following the French Revolution. He called for the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne of France and argued that the Pope should have ultimate authority in temporal matters. He also claimed that the rationalist rejection of Christianity was directly responsible for the disorder and bloodshed which followed the French Revolution of 1789.

Cosmogony - Any scientific theory concerning the coming into existence (or origin) of either the cosmos (or universe), or the so-called "reality" of sentient beings

Gens Sans Aveu - Vagabonds

What's wrong with Javert? Madeleine's doing a lot of good. Leave him alone!

Law-Scrivener - A person who writes a document for another, usually for a fee

Louis d'or - The Louis d'or is any number of French coins first introduced by Louis XIII n 1640. The name derives from the depiction of the portrait of King Louis on one side of the coin; the French royal coat of arms is on the reverse. The coin was replaced by the French franc at the time of the revolution and later the similarly-valued Napoleon, although a limited number of Louis were also minted during the "Bourbon Restoration" under Louis XVIII.

How does Javert know of only one man capable of holding up a cart? How does he know Madeleine is 'the one'? This is just silly.

"No one is more avidly curious about other people's doings than those persons whom they do not concern."

Fiacre - A small hackney coach

Suborn - Bribe or otherwise induce (someone) to commit an unlawful act such as perjury

"An old woman who lived in the house taught her the art of living in penury. There are two stages - living on little, and living on nothing. They are like two rooms, the first dark, the second pitch-black."

"Paupers cannot reach the end of their abode, or of their destiny, except by crouching ever lower."

Fantine is an interesting mother. She sells her looks for her child; her hair, her teeth. Interesting to see the lengths of sacrifice that some people will go through.

Week 8

Pont-a-Mousson - An industrial town situated on the Moselle River. It contains several historicla monuments including ones from the 18th century.

"Curiosity is a form of gluttony: to see is to devour."

Peremptory - (esp. of a person's manner or actions) Insisting on immediate attention or obedience, esp. in a brusquely imperious way

Simon-pure - Genuinely and thoroughly pure.

Chary - Cautious; wary

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Timeless: Photos from Yesteryear 5

Here is another series of beautiful photos from As always I try to pick out photos that look interesting or affect me in some way.

On the road with her family one month from South Dakota. Tulelake, Siskiyou County, Calif. September 1939. Photograph by Dorothea Lange.
 Lange always has beautiful photos that look staged but aren't.

Mack Sennett's bathing beauties in serpentine confetti, April 24, 1918. 

It's interesting to see the date on this one. I would have expected a picture like this to be from after 1926 but no, this was taken during the war. Offhand, that's a lot of confetti.

Model airplanes decorate the ceiling of the train concourses at Union Station in Chicago, Illinois. Jack Delano, 1943.

This was one of those fantastic photos that made me look a little closer. It was clearly inside a building but I didn't know they were model planes until I read the caption.

A photo of William Grass on the starting line. National Photo Company, 1922.

He looks rather determined doesn't he?

The title of this 1905 photo by George Lawrence is "Rubbing," with a copyright assigned to Cluett, Peabody & Co., which in the 1930s developed the Sanforization pre-shrink process for cottons. 

I picked this one because she's got a rather cheeky look on her face. Also I can't imagine washing clothes by hand. The past really is another country.

Eighteen-year-old Ruth Malcomson, Miss Philadelphia of 1924. Later that year in Atlantic City, she would be crowned Miss America. 5x7 glass negative, Atlantic Foto Service/George Grantham Bain Collection.

That's one crazy looking trophy. It's interesting to see how thing begins and trying to link the steps of it must have taken to evolve into what it is now, such as the Miss America pageant.

Eastport, Maine. August 1911. "Nan de Gallant, 4 Clark Street, 9 year old cartoner, Seacoast Canning Co., Factory #2. Packs some with her mother. Mother and two sisters work in factory. One sister has made $7 in one day. During the rush season, the women begin work at 7 a.m., and at times work until midnight. Brother works on boats. The family comes from Perry, Maine, just for the summer months. Work is very irregular. Nan is already a spoiled child." Lewis W. Hine.

She would fit right in with "Children of the Corn" don't you think? She has what my mother calls, 'the Look', an inherited expression passed down from mother to daughter.

Powerhouse Mechanic and Steam Pump (1920). One of Lewis Wickes Hine's celebrated "work portraits" made after he completed his decade-long project documenting child labor. Juniper Gallery Fine Art Print.

This seems to be an iconic image as I've seen it grace fancy coffee table photography books before.

"Children's Delight" carousel wagon with piano or calliope, circa 1910. George B. Marx Wagon Co., Brooklyn. 

                             This looks so cute but also kind of sketchy as in it doesn't look very safe.

August 1939. Migratory boy in squatter camp. Has come to Yakima Valley, Washington, for the third year to pick hops. Mother: "You'd be surprised what that boy can pick."  Photograph by Dorothea Lange.

 This kid has a determined look about him