Les Miserables

Les Misérables - Victor Hugo, Norman Denny This epic novel by Victor Hugo was quite a surprising treat. I think the enchantment felt was partially due to the lack of knowledge I had of this popular story. I've never seen any of the films or ventured out to see the play. Anyone who has ever read this will know Hugo tends to digress into many topics which stray from the story itself. Not knowing this, the first digression choked me like swallowing a huge pill. But slowly, after each one… I started to enjoy his digressions and wanted more. Hugo has a wonderful mind and really delves into some thought provoking ideas. All this stimulating writing had me highlighting like crazy. For example, I loved the way Hugo compared a prison to a monastery and a convict to a nun, never would I have even thought to compare the two! I also loved the entire rant on slang; this topic is still being debated today. Also, the slang of long ago is proper speech today which strengthens his argument even more. He brings a refreshing look at what slang really is and how it should be treated. One of my favorite characters in the book was actually a very minor character but one which brought about Hugo’s rant of slang. Gavroche, the street urchin who creates a nest in an elephant sculpture, has such cheer and resourcefulness for a child with nothing. This is admirable, yes… but Gavroche’s charm lies with his slangy speech. His speech is chock full of cute words for ordinary things and he tries to correct others when they use “proper” speech. His part is short but his character is so heartwarming and odd that it stuck with me. Okay, so… this story is aptly named “The Miserable Wretches” because EVERYONE has horrible things happen to them BUT sometimes a happy ending is overrated. I’ll leave you with this quote straight out of the ending of the book:“It is a terrible thing to be happy! How content one is! How all-sufficient one finds it! How, being in possession of the false object of life, happiness, one forgets the true object, duty!”It was Hugo’s duty to deliver us a story with depth and feeling, not one of those dull (heard it all before) stories. With this, he has success… End of story.