Dottie's Reviews > Les Misérables

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
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's review
Mar 10, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: classic, worth-rereading

One of the best books written. Everyone can learn and benefit from Jean Valjean's experiences and the way he chooses to handle them. I found it interesting that both Les Mis and The Phantom were popular musical plays at the same time. I love both plays; they have parallels that are interesting. Both main characters have been ill treated by fellow humans. Eric/Phantom on the one hand turns to bitterness, darkness and evil, while Jean allows his experiences to make him into a saint as he chooses to have God in his life.

I also realized that it is a parable of Mercy and Justice--explaining the laws of mercy and justice as described by Christianity. The Bishop, Monseigneur Bienvenu, was the epitome of Mercy--Justice has no place in his life or his character. Javert is the epitome of Justice--Mercy had no place in his life or character. Valjean is the example of how mercy and justice are played out in one's mortal life. Mercy is more powerful than Justice, and eventually Mercy satisfies Justice and prevails, if given a chance in one's life.

Some of my favorite quotes are listed here, but these are only a few--and ones from the first part of the book--mostly referring to the Bishop:
"My friends, remember this--there are no bad herbs or bad men; there are only bad cultivators" (p. 150 book. 1)

“If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” (P.13)

“He could say the grandest things in the most common language; and as he spoke all dialects, his words entered the souls of all.” (P. 12)

“He was fond of books, for they are cool and sure friends.”

“Sometimes he used a spade in his garden, and sometimes he read and wrote. He had but one name for these two kinds of labor; he called them gardening. ‘The Spirit is a garden,’ said he” (p. 17).

“Oh, thou who art: Ecclesiastes names Thee the Almighty; Maccabees names Thee Creator; The Epistle to Ephesians names Thee Liberty; Baruch names Thee Immensity; The Psalms names Thee Wisdom and Truth; John names Thee Light; The book of Kings names Thee Lord; Exodus calls Thee Providence; Leviticus, Holiness; Esdras, Justice; Creation calls Thee God; Man names Thee Father; But Solomon names Thee Compassion, and that is the most beautiful of all names” (p. 18) .

(Of the four plats in their back yard, three were used for vegetable gardens, the fourth for flowers.) “‘Monseigneur, you are always anxious to make everything useful, but yet here is a plat that is of no use. It would be much better to have salads there than bouquets.’ ‘Madam Magloire,’ replied the Bishop, ‘you are mistaken. The beautiful is as useful as the useful.’ He added after a moment’s silence, ‘Perhaps more so’” (p. 21).

“This is the shaded meaning: The door of a physician should never be closed; the door of a priest should always be open...Am I not a physician as well as they? I also have my patients; first I have theirs, whom they call the sick; and then I have my own, whom I call the unfortunate. Ask not the name of him who asks you for a bed. It especially he, whose name is a burden to him, who has need of an asylum.” (P. 22).

“Unless God protects a house, they who guard it watch in vain” (p.22)

When Victor Hugo writes about Napolean he asks why did Napolean lose the battle of Waterloo? Was it because of Wellington? No, it was because of God.
"The excessive weight of this man in human destiny distrubed the equilibrium...Reeking blood, overcrowded cemeteries, weeping mothers--these are formidable pleaders. When the earth is suffering from surcharge, there are mysterious moanings from the deeps which the heavens hear.
"Napolean had been impeached by the Infinite. His fall was decreed. He vexed God. Waterloo is not a battle; it is a change of front for the universe."
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Quotes Dottie Liked

Victor Hugo
“He was fond of books, for they are cool and sure friends”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Victor Hugo
“Sometimes he used a spade in his garden, and sometimes he read and wrote. He had but one name for these two kinds of labor; he called them gardening. ‘The Spirit is a garden,’ said he”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Reading Progress

03/25/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7)

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Lela I really like this book too! Victor Hugo is an amazingly talented writer and I love the musical!!!!! Fabulous! Phantom of the Opera is a very good musical too and I really liked how you connected those two. They really are very much alike in that sense! Thanks for your review!

Nancy Davis I hadn't thought of that before, that's is a very interesting outlook and makes me love it even more.

Liesl Your review reminded me of why this is one of my favorite books of all time. Thanks. I think it's time to re-read it (for the 5th or 6th time).

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Your review was the deal breaker. I was debating on whether or not to get this book and this review just did it for me. I ordered it today from Amazon and I can't wait until it comes in.

message 3: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann Sanchez exactly why this book is my favorite book of all time

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I loved your review. Particuarly the quotes! I'm almost finished with Les Mis myself, and I'd almost completely forgotten all those little gems from the very beginning.
I thought it was interesting how you compared Jean Valjean and Erik! I've always kind of thought that Eponine and Erik were similar. They both seem so tough on the outside, but they really can't bear it when someone doesn't love them back. I think that was the biggest tragedy with those two, not that they were rejected, but that they couldn't handle being rejected.

Sarah This is such a real review I love it. You have captured the book and put it where it should be.

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