Sunday, 2 December 2012

Les Miserables update

   I love this passage from Les Miserables:

    "At daybreak he was in the open countryside; the town of Montreuil-sur-mer was far enough behind him.  He watched the horizon whiten; he watched,without seeing, all the chilling features of a winter dawn passing before his eyes.  Morning has its ghosts just as night does.  He did not see them but, unwittingly, and through almost a kind of physical osmosis, the black silhouettes of trees and hills added something inexpressibly mournful and sinister to the convulsive state of his mind." Ch 5, A Spoke in the Wheels, from Book of Fantine.

That paints such a picture, doesn't it, of Valjean's ride through the countryside as he decides what to do.  The outer state of the world mirroring the inner state of the mind.  The chill of the winter dawn, the black silhouettes - no colour anywhere, and no help for Valjean but to learn what he is made of, and what is in his heart and his mind, alone. 

This is satisfying reading.  There is something to chew over, to mull, there is depth to this writing that is satisfying me in a way that I had forgotten a book can do.  It's not that anything I've read this year has been bad, on the contrary, I've read some excellent books this year that I am also mulling over as they settle into me. 

 Reading Les Miserables is an experience.  It's getting lost in a time and place, in a the complex workings of a man's heart and soul, in all the miseries and kindnesses, love and loss that make up life, and I am loving it.  It's rich material,  where the workings of all the characters' hearts and minds are revealed.   There are so many characters that are all different, and so vividly realized, even in just the line or two some of them are given.   I am so glad I started reading Les Miserables, and so sad that it took me so long to get to it.  It reminds me of some ways of Middlemarch, where the variety and depths of characters minds, hearts and souls are revealed, in the complexity of  small village life, where one character's actions does affect the whole. Les Miserables has that same consideration to it.  We don't live all alone, and every conversation, every act, every thought, has a reaction to it..  It's fascinating and gripping . 

9 comments:

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

One day I'll make the time and put in the effort to read this novel. I decided to do that with Middlemarch a few years ago and it turned out to be such a rewarding experience.

Susan said...

Ana: I really enjoyed Middlemarch when I finally sat down and read it, too, a few years ago. I think you have to be in the mood for a classic (or a certain one), and then it can be read with full enjoyment.

Gavin said...

I have this one on my reread list. Maybe after Dickens in December.

Gavin said...

I have this one on my reread list. Maybe after Dickens in December.

Gavin said...

Oops!

Susan said...

Gavin: Don't worry! lol I've done that a few times, sometimes blogger has difficulties. I've lost posts too, that way.

When did you read Les Miserables, and did you like it the first time around?

Marg said...

I am reading this at the moment. I love the story itself and the main characters, but I do find myself getting a bit distracted when Hugo goes off on one of his many tangents!

Susan said...

Marg: I haven't reached the tangent parts yet. I'm still in Fantine's chapter! lol It's such a big story, and so good, isn't it?

mel u said...

This was my top book in 2011-I really liked and I also liked Hunchback