There, I said it. This humungous novel, at over 1192 pages with pretty small print, is worthy of being called a classic. From the very first, I have been amazed at the gracefulness of the edition I have. It's the new Modern Library edition, translated by Julie Rose.
I am amazed at the depth and perception of Hugo's ability to get into the skin of people, to delineate them so clearly. The Bishop of Digne who is round and kindly and pure, and his ever so thin sister who stays with him and cares for him all her life, devoted in a kind sisterly way, not the mean way that some people can have when they give up something for someone else. Valjean himself, made a criminal through poverty - hunger - changed by meeting the Bishop. And what a change! One of the grandest moments in literature, I think, the moment when Valjean sees himself as he has become, and chooses another path through the grace of meeting the Bishop. He tries to go good, and oh does he ever! It was a striking moment, Valjean's conversion to opening up himself to trying another way, a marvellous insight into his thoughts and perceptions. This is a meaty novel, rich with characters and story, though Hugo goes off and explores so much at the same time, like he gets sidetracked and wants to cover everything and the landscape of life in early 19th century Paris is laid before our eyes in the book. Yes, the plot does move a little slowly. I don't mind, mostly I wish the book didn't weigh so much so that I could carry it around with me and read it more quickly.
Little Cosette. Ah the poor little girl, I am so angry at her mother (and the cad who got her in the family way) and what happens to Cosette, and then have pity for the poverty most people live in, in the early 19th century that leads to what happens to Cosette. This is a magnificent book. And I have almost 1,000 pages to go. I've finally realized that I want to take you along with me as I read it - I want to post about Les Miserables and my journey through it.
Have you read Les Miserables? Can you, like Chris, say that you have read the whole thing? What did you think? Let me know.
And of course, the movie is coming out. I didn't know it was a musical, which I am wondering about -but I love this poster, and Hugh Jackman - oh yes, I think I am going to see this! Now, can I read this over the next month? Not likely. A good part, though. So stay tuned. And I promise every post won't be about it, I do have lots of other books I am reading and want to share! This is such a treat though, that I think something like a weekly update, or Drop in on Les Miserables reading would be fun to do. I'll see. For now, I am enjoying the richness of characterization and details, though Chris does warn that there are several chapters devoted to sewers coming up.