The Power of Les Misérables

Found myself reaching out for Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Misérables. Nothing wrong with that. Just that I was starting to read it for the third time. Again, not owing to a shortage of books to read. In fact many of my books have been lying on the shelves long unread…asking to be read. And I looked beyond the rest & reached out for this, one of my favourites.

It was plain obvious the book had been read a couple of times earlier, by the passages I had marked.

Jean Valjean is convicted for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread (with charges added on), the grace of the Bishop Bienvenu who offers him rest for the night he was out on parole when no one else would have him & the events which follow lead to his eventual salvation.

The Thenardiers, a vile & wretched couple  whose combined evil minds are always indulging in some mean scheme; little Cosette, the unfortunate little girl who became the target of the Thenardiers  greed & contempt; the rigid police officer Javert & his ruthless attempt to trap Jean Valjean  are characters that can never be forgotten.

The Bishop Bienvenu who opened his heart & home to Valjean to spend the night when he was out from prison, as a rule never locked any door in his house –

His view of the matter is conveyed by three lines which he wrote in the margin of a Bible: ‘This is the distinction: the doctor’s door must never be shut; the priest’s door must always be open.’

*  *  *

Jean Valjean was found guilty. The Penal Code was explicit. There are terrible occasions in our civilization, those when the Law decrees the wrecking of a human life. It is a fateful moment when society draws back its skirts and consigns a sentient being to irrevocable abandonment.

*  *  *

No one is more avidly curious about other people’s doings than those persons whom they do not concern.

*  *  *

About the crafty  Thenardier –

His tavern-sign bore witness to his feat of arms. He had painted it himself, being a jack of all trades who did everything badly.

*  *  *

In every small town, and this was particularly so in Montreuil-sur-mer, there is a class of young men who squander an income of 1500 francs in the provinces much as their peers in Paris squander an income of 200,000. They belong to the great species of nonentities who own a little land, a little silliness, and a little wit; who would look like clods in a fashionable salon but think themselves gentlemen in a tavern.

*  *  *

For those even considering Hugo, Les Misérables is a great place to start & it will not disappoint.

More to go, can’t wait to finish it !

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