If I were still in school, I would begin a lengthy analysis of this book with genuine excitement. As it is, I will simply dictate my general reactionsIf I were still in school, I would begin a lengthy analysis of this book with genuine excitement. As it is, I will simply dictate my general reactions so as not to rob readers of the sublime joy of reading this book.
Regarding the author: there are few who can effectively mix the beauty of poetry and the brilliance prose with one stroke of the pen. Victor Hugo is one of these geniuses. He conveys the authority of a man who has lived the various levers of life. He is the personification of Wisdom. And he, the master, commands that wisdom, in all its manifestations of historical episodes, social philosophies and characterizations.
His artistry is unparalleled in word and literary construction. Sections which are seemingly tangential tie in with indispensable characters and events. Paris herself is a character and her history serves to supply depth to the efficacy of her civilization. By juxtaposing Jean Valjean, who weaves unnoticed into threads of other characters' lives, to Javert, Thenardier and Marius - and Cossette - one finds the flawless masterpiece of a life well-lived, the Hell of social order and the liberty of personal justice and conscience, the humane flourishing where men never reason to find it and fumble recklessly to control it. If only we were all bishops and all knew a Jean Valjean. If only we were all Jean Valjean and didn't need prison or a bishop to become so great!
Hugo described Les Miserables, within Les Miserables, as the MARCH from evil to good. Yet one must have a general grasp of what Hugo considers evil and what he considers good. From the story and its players, we know that neglecting the unfortunate is evil, the unconditional aid to those in need is good - the suppression of the people is evil, the insurrection of Right over the letter of institutional law is good - to live dutifully by conscience is good while stringently adhering to the fical sway of politics is evil. Yet the story is just that, a march. Les Miserables is not the next Communist Manifesto or Declaration of Independence. Les Miserables is a world of consequence and the struggle to realize the best of humanity.
This march sounds romantic and glorious, worthy of epic poetry and fantasy. Yet Hugo draws it as reasonable reality - something attainable and admirable. Inspiring. To wholly give oneself to the betterment of the unfortunate, even if at times they are the infamous masked over, to neglect only one's self within any social order, is the epitome of love and life. ...more
First of all, forget everything you think you know about this story based on Disney films or other adaptions. This is a horrid account of death in theFirst of all, forget everything you think you know about this story based on Disney films or other adaptions. This is a horrid account of death in the stylings of Shakespearean tragedy offset by brilliant and imaginitive prose.
Victor Hugo craftily employs character contrast, metaphor, split narrative, etc to render "Hunchback". Without going to much into detail, I will say these are merely devices by which Hugo drafts the misunderstandings and tragedy that would ensue through the story: Esmerelda misunderstanding Phoebus' "love" and being wrongly accused for a death that did not happen, Claude Frollo misunderstanding how to express love and how to fill the void left in its absence, the parentage of several characters, the King's orders without proper information, etc.
Quasimodo seems to be the only character in tune with his own quality, as ugly and mis-shapen as he is. And thusly, like the great cathedral herself, he watches this all unfold and reacts in a fairly dumb, child-like fashion. The final events of the story could have all been avoided had certain social or cultural qualities been eliminated, which is, I'm sure, Hugo's point.
It is a fantastic read, but be warned - you will not put the book down feeling good about...anything....more
The beauty of Kerouac's story is it's timelessness, as is with all great works of art. It's lasting power is rooted in it's ability to speak to generaThe beauty of Kerouac's story is it's timelessness, as is with all great works of art. It's lasting power is rooted in it's ability to speak to generations following the Beats. As political and cultural tones shift, particularly in America, it boils down to logic that a group of people may feel disillusioned - on the outside yearning to fill a void left by being beaten and prodded by social norms and expectations.
No, I don't want a white picket fence or multi-car garage. I want to be free to roam; live as a nomad - a blank mind ready to be blown.
However, Kerouac illustrates, perhaps unintentionally, through his experiences with Dean Moriarty, that such a life and such a dream only deepens the crevice; like a dog chasing its own tail. One only feels exhausted and more "beat" - but with fantastic stories.
Of course this interpretation is not a defense of materialism, status or normality. Sal's willingness to drop everything and follow Dean at any moment shows that he is not content with the void and won't turn to materialistic means to fill it. But he never talks about if following Dean is actually good for Sal. Most experiences they share are through Dean's words or actions, as if Sal is just happy to live a life he admires rather than one he enjoys. If Sal admires the life, it is only natural he admire the man who embodies it, as Sal expresses a deep understanding of Dean, as a sort of Angel.
Kerouac seems to have little, if any, shame in telling the story of his chase - and its inability to satisfy. After all, most human endeavors (even incessant reading) have the same futility in filling this void carved out by the American mainstream. So I feel "On The Road" is a breath-takingly honest depiction of the problem rather than a solution.
Nevertheless, it is a problem. Though "On The Road" may not be the answer, at least they're looking....more