Friday, March 09, 2007

Les Mis

So I'm reading Les Miserables. I started reading it in college and actually got over halfway through, but stopped because of finals or something. It's not a book you can stop and pick up again a few months later. You'll forget everything. So it's taken me years to be brave enough to try to read it again. Yikes.

Has anyone read it? The unabridged version? I'm almost three quarters of the way through, but I have been known to get frustrated. There are so many loooong descriptive parts, that it's hard to find the story. There was one afternoon where I was glued to it through all of naptime, but I got bogged down again and it took me a week to get around to reading it again.

There are many valuable thoughts and even some tidbits that apply to the story in the commentaries, but it's tough to pick them out. I speak specifically of the "Waterloo" chapters, along with the chapters regarding the second revolution. What I'm realizing is that Hugo's audience (along with all other writers of his time) had no other consistent form of entertainment. Also, no visual media, so descriptions had to be very detailed. I'm learning to appreciate this, and at present, am in an "easy" reading spot.

It's a great story, all things considered. The wisdom that Hugo imparts makes the whole thing worth reading. Like today, for instance, he discusses Marius and his time of despair and aimlessness after not being able to locate or find out the identity of a girl he loves: "Man, in the dreamy state, is naturally prodigal and luxurious; the relaxed mind cannot lead a disciplined life...the poor man who is generous and noble, and who does not work, is lost. His resources dry up, his needs mount up." Reminiscent of a passage in Proverbs, loosely paraphrased: "...a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; and poverty will fall upon you like a bandit..." It's not so much being poor that's the beginning of the downfall, it's not being willing to work - sloth. This is always a good reminder for me. How productive am I being?

Enough thoughtfulness for today...

3 comments:

annecourager said...

We had to read an abridged version of that when I was in 10th grade. I did it over Christmas break that year (eep, that was 1984) and LOVED the book.

When I wanted to read the book again in my 20's, I couldn't find the same edition... and found some of the word-slogging very tiring.
Them there authors wrote differently in those days, yeop.

I still love the themes of sacrifice and redemption throughout the whole thing, but sometimes it's just so overwhelmingly depressing, kwim?

I feel the same way about Dickens' writing.

Happy weekend!

joysnatcher said...

Yes, Dickens falls into the same category in my thinking. Also Thomas Hardy (Return of the Native, Tess of the D'Ubervilles) - I saw a TV movie on Return of the Native in high school and thought I'd read the book...I read about five pages, if that. Hopefully in this stage of my life I could finish it, but I have yet to attempt that feat.

Lacey said...

Yes I am attempting to read the unabridged version, but I had to take a break starting August to do reading for school. I completly agree with your description of it. I LOVE his descriptions of people. They feel so real to me and I am fascinated by them. But the chapters on battles and such cause my eyes to gloss over, and as much as I hate to skip chapters, I haved to! Hopefully I can pick it up again after school is out for the summer, but I may have to start over, hehe. But yes, one of my favorite stories! I love Jean Valjean and the priest in the beginning and all the other colorful characters.

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