Saturday, December 4, 2010

Les Miserables

My 2010 New Years Resolution was this- To [at least] start the Victor Hugo novel- Les Misérables. This book is immense! I've seen various screen adaptations and the musical (twice!) so I come into it pretty familiar with the main story. It's the details I'm interested in now. To fall in love with the characters and story. And that I did. What I wasn't prepared for was all the tangents Hugo takes away from the story. For example, Bishop Myriel- this character has a small part in the movie and the musical. He's the guy that Jean Valjean tries to steal silver flatware and dishes from but Bishop Myriel forgives him and has Jean Valjean take the silver candlesticks, too. Wonderful character and we don't see him ever again in said productions. In the novel we read about every single detail about this man before that scene after we read about every single detail about Jean Vanjean. It's very extensive and well done and the scene takes a much more meaningful tone with all the back ground knowledge on hand.

"Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man.... Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!"

I must confess that I'm not actually reading the book proper. I'm listening to it in audio book form. This takes place about four times a day on my commutes to and from work (with a split shift). And it's been working fabulously. I look forward to my commutes. At one point our protagonist is making tracks across the countryside on foot and comes across the battlefield of Waterloo or something like that because all of a sudden we're studying that battle from every possible facet, much like we did with Jean Valjean and Bishop Myriel. But the story takes place decades after this battle. But here it is, in every detail... why!? I thought for a while that I may have somehow been listening to the wrong audio book. Like some digital files got mixed up with a military history book or something. But as suddenly as we left, we were back on track with the story.

My momentum has started to wane. My plan was to make it to where the movie/musical jump ahead ten or so years, after Cosette is rescued from the Thénardiers. I've shelved the book for now. Hugo has started another major tangent, this one about religious orders and nuns and such. A good time to set the book down and get back into some Sherlock Holmes.
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