Marjorie Cocjin's Reviews > Les Misérables

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
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Nov 20, 11

bookshelves: 2011
Recommended for: everyone!!!
Read from November 06 to 18, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

I am floored. I cried. I laughed and then I cried again. This book is more than a triumph, it is love.

The strength, passion and ferocity of feeling in this book is simply breathtaking. Reading this has affected my mind, heart and soul. It is a story of a good and honest man who did wrong and was punished and pursued in a way disproportionate to the wrong. I met a man you would love not just for his goodness and wretchedness, but for his unending desire to give his life over to God, in the hopes of redeeming his soul. He is unerringly humble and wise in the way he lives his life in service of compassion, humans and God. Through it all you'll detect no sign of superiority or satisfaction, only a man who believes himself wretched and inexcusable, a galley slave, lowest of the low in French society, a person irredeemable in this life but maybe, as shown through the trust and compassion shown by a bishop, still acceptable in heaven.

This is the kind of story that can make a reader reflect on her own life, thoughts and actions. For me, Jean Veljean is like a 19th century superhero: A normal man who decided to steal bread for his family, made to become a true convict by his experience in the galleys, emerged believing himself a criminal, shunned by all, a dangerous man in his own right, was shown trust and compassion by a bishop and after a final act of wretchedness so evil, came to his senses that he has in fact, by word and action of the bishop, been delivered to the service of God. He spends the rest of his life living with the past, doing good because he is good, serving others because he is an agent of God, and yet having none of the contentedness and happiness of a man who is sure of his welcome in heaven.

I loved all the characters in the book!

The admirable tenacity and principles of Javert, his confusion and stupefaction when faced with the salient goodness and reform of a convict he denied for years, the drastic measures he took to free himself from this cognitive dissonance (hahaha psych term). I loved how he was so willing to submit himself to justice when he perceived himself to have done wrong to report M. Madeleine as Jean Veljean. Upon being informed that the "real" Jean Veljean has been found and his accusations towards M. Madeleine (who is Jean Veljean in disguise) was unfounded, he asks to be arrested, a surrender that was refused by M. Madeleine.

"...Well, listen a moment, Monsieur Mayor; I have often been severe in my life towards others. It was just. I did right. Now if I were not severe towards myself, all I have justly done would become injustice. Should I spare myself more than others? No. What! if I should be prompt only to punish others and not myself, I should be a wretched indeed!" -Javert to M. Madeleine

If I could quote that entire page, I would. It was simply beautiful. It is for me, an outward reflection of what is happening within Jean Veljean himself-- the difference is Javert stands in the light while M. Madeleine, for all the good he has done, still hides in the shadow.

The innocent cruelty of Marius, the tragedy of Fantine and the suffering of Cosette. The poor love of Eponine and the horrid practiality of Thernardier. The fairy life of Gavroche and heroes of the barricade. Upon closing the book I find their lives and experiences, translated from its original prose and then read by me, burned bright lights into my soul. It's as if the experience or reading about them for the first time is only the beginning, the light to a fuse that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

This book, with its humor, action and alternating descriptions of despair, imprisonment, fathers and the cotton-candy taste of first love, is a triumph. It is a book worthy of its legend and longevity, a friend for life, a mentor until death and an instrument of love. :)
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Quotes Marjorie Liked

Victor Hugo
“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“The peculiarity of sunrise is to make us laugh at all our terrors of the night, and our laugh is always proportioned to the fear we have had.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
tags: fear

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Miki (new) - added it

Miki Akasako Oh, your review makes me want to read it! I was always contented with the movies and the plays and I had forgotten how fundamentally different books are from performance arts. I hope you lend me a copy Marjorie!

Marjorie Cocjin SURENESS MIKI!! :D

Essence Holmes Oh my goodness! You should become a writer! You have a breath-taking vocablary and unbelivea talent. You should really take this into consideration of being a writer.

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