The Art Site

Monday, May 10, 2010

Les Mis (erables)

It's an epic book. I'm using that word 'epic' in an almost - literal sense: the book's gargantuan! It has 1,232 pages (or thereabouts, my copy does anyway), and Hugo doesn't scruple to go off on tangents about Waterloo, King Louis the sixteenth (I think it's the sixteenth), Napoleon, the poor, Paris, sewers and convents. To name only a couple of his fascinating, but long-winded commentaries on social issues and politics.

If you want to grow in forbearance, then this is the book for you.

On the other hand, there are moments when Hugo really achieves great things in his writing. His story line is unique - Jean Valjean is a hero in the stricter sense of the world: his heroism comes from his conversion?/transformation at the beginning, where a higher power triumphs over him, and during the rest of the book he does battle with the remnants of his old life. Through this internal battle, he becomes a more visible hero in regard to saving other people.
I just love him. I'm sure he'd have to be no. 1 or 2 in my list of heroes - the list I haven't made. I'm unsure whether the priest, Bienvenu - that man of excellence who helps Valjean initially should have first place or not. He's the epitome of righteousness - and he makes the book a must-read.

Eponine's the heroine of the story I'd say, over Cosette who I can like but not sympathise much with. Here's Cosette with Marius..

.. and here's a picture from a musical of Les Mis - it's of the 1830 revolt, with the men at the barricade.

And on a bizarre note, here's a crazy picture of Javert (the law-abiding, villainous police officer) and Jean Valjean.. I don't think it was supposed to be weird, but it is. Note the odd expressions and wig..

If you want a good, satisfying, never-ending book to read, Les Mis is the answer. Getting to the end is a big achievement, but it's worth it. Honest.

- Lydie


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