Becky's Reviews > The Wretched

The Wretched by Victor Hugo
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it was amazing
bookshelves: shareatea2017, 2017reviews, classicsclub2017
Read 5 times. Last read June 28, 2017 to September 23, 2017.

First sentence: In 1815, Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel was bishop of Digne. He was an old man of about seventy-five. He had been bishop of Digne since 1806.

Premise/plot: An ex-convict does his best to live life according to his conscience. Will it ever be enough?

My thoughts: I love, love, love Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. I believe this is my third time to review it for the blog? My 2013 review. My 2014 review.

Political, philosophical, spiritual, dramatic, and romantic. Each word describes the novel, in part. While there are many characters in this novel, I loved the narrator the best of all. Who are some of the characters? Bishop Myriel, Jean Valjean, Fantine, Inspector Javert, Cosette, Marius, Eponine, Enjolras, and Gavroche--just to name a few.

Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who seeks shelter from Bishop Myriel one night. Though he's been treated only with kindness, Valjean in his bitterness (he was sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread), he steals the bishop's silver. When the theft is discovered, the bishop is all compassion telling the officials that there has been a misunderstanding. Valjean did not steal the silver; it was given as a gift. In fact, he's happy to give Valjean his silver candlesticks as well. Valjean is shocked and overwhelmed. The meeting turns out to be quite life-changing.

When readers next meet Valjean, he has a new name and life. Monsieur Madeleine is a successful business man. He has a BIG heart. He's always giving. He's always thinking of others. He's always doing what he can, when he can to make a difference when and where it matters most. One woman he is determined to help is a young, single mother, Fantine. Circumstances have separated Fantine from her child, Cosette, but, Valjean is determined to correct as many wrongs as he can in this situation. He will see to it personally.

Unfortunately, his past catches up with him. He learns that a man has been arrested; "Jean Valjean" has been caught. Of course, Madeleine knows this is nonsense. Can he let another take his place in prison? If he tells the truth then he can no longer help the poor, but if he doesn't tell the truth, how could he live with himself? He does the honorable thing--though it is one of the greatest challenges he's faced so far.

But that means, for the moment, that Cosette is left in unpleasant circumstances...

There comes a time, an opportunity for Valjean to escape. What he does with his freedom--this time he's assumed drowned, I believe--is go and find Cosette. The two become everything to one another. Cosette is the family he's never had, never even knew he needed or wanted... the two end up in Paris.

Almost half of the novel follows the love story between Marius and Cosette. But it isn't only a love story. Marius is a poor man in conflict with his rich grandfather. The two disagree about many things. But their main source of disagreement is politics. At first, Marius is swept up in his father's politics, with a new awareness of who his father was as a soldier, as a man, as a possible hero. But later, Marius begins to think for himself, to contemplate political and philosophical things for himself. He becomes friendly with a political group at this time. But his love of politics dims when he falls in love with Cosette...and she becomes his whole reason for being. For the longest time these two don't even know each other's names! This romance isn't without challenges...

This novel has so much drama! I found it beautifully written. So many amazing passages! Such interesting characters! I'm not sure I loved the ending. And I was frustrated with Marius at times. But. I definitely loved this book!

It's also a novel heavy on details. When it's good, it's REALLY good. But at times some of the details are too taste-specific. In other words, some of the details weigh the story down. At times Les Miserables is boring. It's worth reading. It is. It's worth pushing through to the end. It's okay to skim certain sections, in my opinion, because it is one of the most satisfying reading experiences overall. Not that I LOVE the ending, though I think I may have made peace with it this time around.

I definitely enjoyed this translation of the novel. I LOVED the introductory materials. I found the notes to be thorough. If I were to ever STUDY the book, this would be the translation I'd use because the notes are so extensive.
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Quotes Becky Liked

Victor Hugo
“He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often came back with two.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

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
“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Not being heard is no reason for silence.”
Hugo, Victor, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”
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
“Those who do not weep, do not see.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Life's great happiness is to be convinced we are loved.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“There is something more terrible than a hell of suffering--a hell of boredom. ”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Let us say in passing, to be blind and to be loved, is in fact--on this earth where nothing is complete--one of the most strangely exquisite forms of happiness. To have continually at your side a woman, a girl, a sister, a charming being, who is there because you need her, and because she cannot do without you, to know you are indispensable to someone necessary to you, to be able at all times to measure her affection by the degree of the presence that she gives you, and to say to yourself: She dedicates all her time to me, because I possess her whole love; to see the thought if not the face; to be sure of the fidelity of one being in a total eclipse of the world; to imagine the rustling of her dress as the rustling of wings; to hear her moving to and fro, going out, coming in, talking, singing, to think that you are the cause of those steps, those words, that song; to show your personal attraction at every moment; to feel even more powerful as your infirmity increases; to become in darkness, and by reason of darkness, the star around which this angel gravitates; few joys can equal that. The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves--say rather, loved in spite of ourselves; the conviction the blind have. In their calamity, to be served is to be caressed. Are they deprived of anything? No. Light is not lost where love enters. And what a love! A love wholly founded in purity. There is no blindness where there is certainty.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“There are no weeds, and no worthless men. There are only bad farmers.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Not seeing people permits us to imagine them with every perfection.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. & great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. & even loved in spite of ourselves.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“He did not study God; he was dazzled by him.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man.... Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness. (Monseigneur Bienvenu in _Les Miserables_)”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“It was SHE. Whoever has loved knows all the radiant meaning contained in the three letters of this word ‘she.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“To lie a little is not possible: he who lies, lies the whole lie.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“We need those who pray constantly to compensate for those who do not pray at all.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Loving is almost a substitute for thinking. Love is a burning forgetfulness of all other things. How shall we ask passion to be logical?”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“What a great thing, to be loved! What a greater thing still, to love! The heart becomes heroic though passion…if no one loved, the sun would go out.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“She worked in order to live, and presently fell in love, also in order to live, for the heart, too, has its hunger.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Love partakes of the soul itself. it is of the same nature. like it, it is a divine spark, like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable, it is the point of fire which is within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can limit and nothing can extinguish.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


Reading Progress

Finished Reading (Other Hardcover Edition)
March 28, 2013 – Shelved (Mass Market Paperback Edition)
March 28, 2013 – Shelved as: read... (Mass Market Paperback Edition)
March 28, 2013 – Finished Reading (Mass Market Paperback Edition)
Started Reading (Kindle Edition)
October 18, 2014 – Shelved (Kindle Edition)
October 18, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014reviews (Kindle Edition)
October 18, 2014 – Finished Reading (Kindle Edition)
November 27, 2015 – Shelved
November 27, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
December 3, 2016 – Shelved as: favo... (Mass Market Paperback Edition)
June 28, 2017 – Started Reading
July 3, 2017 –
17.0%
July 25, 2017 –
44.0%
July 28, 2017 – Shelved as: shareatea2017
August 15, 2017 –
55.0%
September 14, 2017 –
69.0%
September 19, 2017 –
70.0%
September 23, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017reviews
September 23, 2017 – Shelved as: classicsclub2017
September 23, 2017 – Finished Reading
November 27, 2018 – Shelved (Other Hardcover Edition)
November 27, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read (Other Hardcover Edition)
Started Reading (Other Hardcover Edition)
May 16, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019charitybooks (Other Hardcover Edition)
May 16, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019goodrule-old (Other Hardcover Edition)
May 16, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019reviews (Other Hardcover Edition)
May 16, 2019 – Shelved as: favorites (Other Hardcover Edition)
May 16, 2019 – Shelved as: rereads_2019 (Other Hardcover Edition)
May 16, 2019 – Shelved as: shareatea2019 (Other Hardcover Edition)
May 16, 2019 – Shelved as: victorian_2019 (Other Hardcover Edition)
May 16, 2019 – Finished Reading (Other Hardcover Edition)

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