Sunday, November 8, 2009

Les Miserables

Monsieur Victor Hugo totally amazed me with his book Les Miserables, one of his great novels for which he is chiefly remembered. Over the last few days, every time I stopped in a café for wine or café au lait, or went to Jardin de Luxembourg, I pulled the small copy of this book out of my purse and read a chapter or two until I managed to finish. The book is a vivid illustration of the working class and poor of nineteenth century France. The main character is able to rise from poverty into great wealth but not without many trials and tribulations. I was so reminded of Dickens’ classic novels which dealt with much the same subject matter. And as so often found in Dickens work, the main character meets the same people over and over throughout the novel in various forms and their lives are very intimately entwined over an expanse of years. It is sometimes a very brutal observation of the unfortunate position of poverty and what it meant to be in that class of people in the early nineteenth century in Europe. The book is a vivid sketch of the fine line between refinement and criminality and how one can be driven to the latter how of sheer necessity to live. Of course, it has a very dramatic end which is the theme of Romanticism. It makes for captivating reading. Not sure why I never read any of Hugo's work. I am now a dedicated fan.

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