Les Miserables is my favorite book of all time because of Victor Hugo’s divine, poetic excursions into the nature of that most fragile, most influen Les Miserables is my favorite book of all time because of Victor Hugo’s divine, poetic excursions into the nature of that most fragile, most influential, most misunderstood of human emotions: love. Granted it takes him 1,400 pages to do this, but with something as vaguely relatable as love I believe it’s merited. With that in mind, if you’re patient enough to stick through it I promise that you’ll be rewarded with some of the most glistening orbs of heartwarming prose ever crafted.
The characters in this book are engaging, unforgettable, and archetypal to the core. Jean Valjean is a selfless, burly ex-con: a sort of Herculean Jesus who is unjustifiably imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. His struggle to find freedom in a world that ignores his benevolence is what kept me reading the most. Another gem of a character is Cosette, an innocent orphan-girl who's as naive as they come. Their paths meet, and together they face the complications of her love for Marius, a teenaged romantic; the detective Javert, who is hot on Valjean’s trail; and the battles of post-Napoleonic France, which took place at the height of Parisian romanticism. Many of the side characters were memorable as well, including Cosette’s sorrowful mother, Fantine; the incorruptible Bishop, Bienvenu; and the charismatic revolutionary, Enjorlas.
Les Miserables is a mammoth statement about the condition of the French judicial system in the early 19th century. Not only is it a beautifully crafted ode to love, but one of the most dynamic novels about class, justice, revolution, the right to freedom and equality, and any other virtue adored by an ideal democracy. It’s a book that everyone devoted to civil rights and the equality of all humans should have on their shelves, especially considering that it chronicles much of the history of post-revolutionary France. This is the country that raised its mighty fist of democracy against all the oppressive monarchies that had a stranglehold on Europe at the time, and Les Miserables is a testament to the political transformation that took place for the remainder of the century. I really can’t say enough about it. If it were up to me, if one work were to be chosen to place inside an air tank for eternal preservation, one work that best conveys the human spirit- all its vices and virtues- this would be it.
It's true that I was forced to read this in the 8th grade, and whenever I was forced to hear the teacher reading I opted to sleep instead, but I alsoIt's true that I was forced to read this in the 8th grade, and whenever I was forced to hear the teacher reading I opted to sleep instead, but I also read it in 9th grade on a boring Sunday afternoon with nothing else to do. I got through it, but I don't feel like I gained anything significant from it, and while having similar qualities to Holden (like angst, probably the only thing that kept me reading), he didn't interest me enough to fall head over heels for him like so many other people. Maybe it was the drinking, maybe it was that he couldn't get through a paragraph without writing "goddamnit" at least once, maybe it was because he was dreadfully whiney and selfish, maybe it was because nothing exciting happened in the book, but after finishing it and realizing that he made no effort to better himself, I wanted a refund on my Sunday afternoon....more
I'm not sure what the fuss is about. None of the characters interested me, and his style is so plain. Maybe there's deep insight here and there, but nI'm not sure what the fuss is about. None of the characters interested me, and his style is so plain. Maybe there's deep insight here and there, but not enough for my flamboyant atmospherics....more
In which this is the book that got me through detention, and is responsible for my insatiable desire to run naked across a desert island; all thanks tIn which this is the book that got me through detention, and is responsible for my insatiable desire to run naked across a desert island; all thanks to Friday, that lean Adonis, former cannibal, neutered for civilization by the jolly old erudite Robinson Crusoe after his cadaverous adventures at sea....more
I didn’t rate this based on it’s seemingly sexist nature; I’m well aware of how Eve got the shaft, how all womanhood is to blame for the Fall of man,I didn’t rate this based on it’s seemingly sexist nature; I’m well aware of how Eve got the shaft, how all womanhood is to blame for the Fall of man, how God’s old and white and has a dick, and blah blah blah (since it’s based on the Bible, might Milton be forgiven?). I rated it based on the talent of Milton’s craft and the highly memorable, intangible imagery. There is Satan ascending to Heaven through Chaos, the divine chorus after the Son is ordained human incarnation, the various descriptions of Eden, the Son on the chariot casting bolts of lightning on the rebels of God and forcing their fall from the precipice of Heaven, and the demons in Hell transforming into giant serpents. All of this, as described by the superiority of Milton’s craft, creates a mythological masterpiece where anyone would be crazy to let misogyny alone demote it.
Besides, you could argue that Milton is taking a “sympathy for the devil” stance. Because let’s face it: God is a dick. Throughout the Bible he is constantly threatening and smiting down the creatures he apparently loves and is always willing to forgive. He is rather like a tyrant in that you have to do things His way, or else you’ll get booted off the Earth. Sympathy for the devil should make sense to anyone who questions authority (even God’s). Eve may therefore be a hero in Paradise Lost, because she foils the immortality of all the old white men who used The Bible to establish tyranny and submission (gee, I wonder why those are the people who look like God?). If that seems absurd, then hey, a lot of people were rooting for Satan in this one....more