Have you seen the movie "Les Miserable"? The new one with all the raw emotion, requiring women to bring tissues in their purse, next to the Junior Mints they are sneaking into the theater? I've heard it's amazing, thrilling, evocative, fantastic, moving, etc. And I want to see it. I really do. The obstacle is this....I promised myself I'd read the book first. Wa Wa.
I started the abridged version the first week of January and I'm still plugging away. 90% finished as we speak. I was so excited to read this book. The preface blew me away. I love it so much I'll share it with you here:
"So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation prounounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century-the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light-are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world; -in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and pverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Miserables cannot fail to be of use."
the further I read, the more disheartened I became. Oh, the words. The number of words used to describe useless information! Not to talk trash about good old Victor Hugo, but goodness gracious can that man ramble! Granted, he tells a beautiful story of forgiveness, redemption, love and the nobleness distilled in all men and women as creations of God,as well, but it is mingled with ramblings and history lessons and lectures on convents and sewer systems. It quickly became apparent to me that I was going to have to skim. And by skim, I mean skip entire chapters.
This passage from the renowned wikipedia helped me not feel so alone in my discouragement and utter lack of understanding of so much of what I was reading.
"More than a fourth of the novel—by one count 955 of 2,783 pages—is devoted to essays that argue a moral point or display Hugo's encyclopedic knowledge, that do not advance the plot, nor even a subplot. ... The topics Hugo addresses include cloistered religious orders, the construction of the Paris sewers, argot, and the street urchins of Paris. The one about convents he titles "Parenthesis" to alert the reader to its irrelevance to the story line. He devotes another 19 chapters to the Waterloo,"
I wish I would have understood the subtle clue of the title "Parenthesis" before plowing through that chapter. But I could not stop reading. Stopping was out of the question. You see, I don't know how the story ends.
I remember watching an older film version of "Les Mis" in French class...and I fell asleep.
I remember watching the stage version in New York. NEW YORK CITY for heaven sake...and I fell asleep.
I have listened to much of the music and even owned a condensed soundtrack that I listened to regularly, but I have no idea where the songs fit within the story or even which character sings which song.
I thought the entire story revolved around Jean Valjean and Fantine and her pretty little daughter, Cosette. Imagine my surprise when Fantine dies and I'm not even a quarter of the way through the book!
And so, I'm on a mission and I'm nearing the end. I'm 90% of the way finished and I'm loving it. The story that is...not the digressions. How else would I know that Gavroche is Thenardier's son and that he has 2 brothers who were also discarded and their paths cross in a heartbreaking moment and Eponine is his sister. And that's just to name a few of the more relevant backstories and details. I love the depth of reading a novel as opposed to the movie. So don't tell me how it ends. I'll read it for myself. Wish me luck! And then I'll go see the movie. Hopefully while it's still in the theaters.