Monday, August 03, 2015

Book 5 of 2015 (Volume 1) -- Les Miserables

Just a light summer read.

On my KOBO I have a free book called History Classics (which I now can't actually find on the website).  It includes things such as The Three Musketeers  and War and Peace and Les Miserables.  This summer I thought I would take on one of these classics.

And they are LONG.  Volume 1 was between 1200 and 1500 screens on my device.  And it took me to Fantine's death and Valjean escaping from custody.  Lots of words. Lots of descriptions. By modern standards lots of extraneous content--pictures that could take far fewer words to paint (with much loss of detail of course).

Well written to be sure.  Hugo paints wonderful pictures.  WE start with a wonderful sketching out of the character of the Bishop.  One may well wonder why so much time is taken to explain the character of a person who is out of the story relatively soon.  But I think it is part of how Hugo is making a social comment on the need to care for each other.  Because at least in Volume 1 that is a big theme.  That is how we know that the Bishop is such a good man.  That is how we are told that Valjean has truly been transformed. THe reverse is how we know that the Thenardier's are horrible.

The other thing that one notices is that Hugo is taking pains to link the events to a particular place and time-- that also is given a great deal of text.

Thus far we have met Cosette as an infant, as a part of Fantine's story.  We have met Javert. We have met Valjean.  Now Fantine is buried, Valjean is on the run--presumably with Javert on the hunt and Volume 2 is named for Cosette so one assumes we will get back to her.  But thus far we are exploring the battlefield of Waterloo.....

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