Book Fifth: The Excellence of Misfortune

I. Marius Indigent

de la vache enrage
(Fr.) [I'm not positive what this means, but the Fahnestock/MacAfee/Wilbour translation describes something on the order of "chewing the cud of bitterness."]

II. Marius Poor

An extremely effective and gory type of ammunition fired from smoothbore and rifled guns. It consisted of nine cast iron balls held together by twine, iron plates, rings, and a central bolt. The plates and bolt were purposefully made brittle so that shrapnel flew out along with the balls upon impact. [thanks to Lawrence Kwong]

III. Marius Grown Up

"this Buonapartist, this Jacobin, this terrorist, this Septembrist"
Respectively, a supporter: of the radical revolutionaries of the French Revolution, of the Jacobin Club, of the Terror, of the first meeting of the National Convention on September 21, 1792 (which resulted in the execution of Louis XV.) (?)

IV. M. Mabeuf

the Furies/the Eumenides
In Greek mythology, the Furies were the three snake-haired women (Alecto, Tisiphone and Megaera) who punished those who otherwise eluded justice. They were also appeasingly called the Eumenides ("the kindly ones").

"neither a Royalist, a Bonapartist, a Chartist, an Orleanist, nor an Anarchist"
Respectively: a supporter...of the monarchy...of Napoleon...of the 19-century British working-class movement for constitutional reform...of one of the two factions of the party of Order (the other being the Legitimists)...of political anarchy.

Allegri's Miserere
Gregorio Roma Allegri (1582-1652), Italian composer; his most famous work is arranging Miserere mei for a five-part choir and four-part choir of soloists.

the Salpetriere
La Salpetriere was renovated by Louis XIV into a general clinic for the poor of Paris; it was formerly an arsenal and powder factory. The chapel and dome were added in 1670.

V. Poverty a Good Neighbor for Misery

"a book like Job"
Biblical: one of the books of the Old Testament, in which Job, a prosperous man, is struck down by terrible events but still retains his faith in God.

"an event like Marengo"

VI. The Substitute

Place du Pantheon
Domed Parisian building in the Latin Quarter, commissioned 1750 as an abbey church, finished 1789; currently secular. Among those buried there are Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Louis Braille, and Pierre et Marie Curie.

Formerly a palace; currently one of the world's finest art museums and one of the main attractions of Paris. Foundations were first laid in the 12th century. The building was first opened to the public as a museum in 1793.

(Sp.) Without shirts. (Is this from Hugo's original text?)

Lazare (Nicolas Marguerite) Carnot (1753-1823). French statesman, called "the organizer of victory' during the Revolutionary Wars, became one of the Directors (government of five Directors, known as the Directory, established 1795-1799 in response to the Terror).

Joseph Fouche, duc d'Otrante (1763-1829). French statesman, elected to the National Convention in 1792 as a Jacobin.

Pere Duchesne
(1757-1794). French revolutionary extremist, member of the Revolutionary Council; guillotined by Danton and Robespierre along with seventeen of his followers.

balcony of '93
The beginning of the Reign of Terror, lasting until 1794.

Hugo makes a sly reference to himself: this is one of Hugo's own plays which inspired much debate between Romanticists and Classicists. Written 1830; a tragedy.

the Museum
The Louvre.

the Apollo Belvedere
Marble statue of Apollo (Greek god of the sun), circa 200-150 B.C.; currently in the Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy.

Venus de Medici
Scuplture of Venus (Roman goddess of vegetation, Greek goddess of love (Aphrodite)), circa 300 B.C.; currently at the Uffizi Palace, Florence, Italy.

Benjamin Constant
(1767-1830). French politician and novelist, supporter of the Revolution, author of the novel Adolphe (1816).

Tiercelin, Potier

Ogibewas, Cadodaches
My best guess is that this refers to two of the Native American tribes. The Ojibwe occupied the north and midwest areas of the country; the Caddo resided in the south.

Odéon Theater, Paris, built in 1782. Occupied by a student uprising in 1968.

Drapeau Blanc
(Fr.) Literal translation: White Flag.


Member of the Jacobin society, which was active during the revolution of 1789 and held meetings in the Jacobin convent (of Dominican friars) in the Rue St. Jacques, Paris. They wished to control the National Assembly.

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes (1748-1836), French abbe and statesman; helped Napoleon overthrow the Directory (the five-man executive power in France during the French Revolution) in 1799, 18th Brumaire. Later exiled to Brussels.

assassins of September

grimacer of Tivoli

Quai Malplaquet

Henri IV
(1553-1610). First Bourbon king of France (reign: 1589-1610), leader of the Protestant Party; survived the St Bartholomew's massacre (1572) by converting to Catholicism; renounced conversion but converted again in 1593; successful ruler; assassinated in Paris.