Sunday, December 2, 2012

Les Miserables Read-along: second week

This week while talking about Les Misèrables with some friends, one of them complained about Hugo's sometimes a little too long asides about the political and social context of the story and how those could become a bit distracting. Do you agree with this opinion ? Are those asides too much or not enough ?

One of the characters that intrigues me the most is Javert. How do you feel about him ? He starts as the insufferable and fanatic police inspector, but we can slowly see some signs of change...

What's your favourite scene of the week ?


  1. I have been talking about the book with another friend who has been reading the book too and her comment was that 'Hugo has never met a tangent that he didn't want to explore'. I do find the tangents take you away from the story and possibly don't need to be there but I do wonder how much that is about the way that books are edited and put together these days. If this book was to be published now I suspect that the section about the priest would have been much smaller, the Waterloo section would have not been there or much reduced.

  2. Your friend is so right, Marg ! And I completely agree with you. I'm sure that today we would know far less about the adorable Bishop Myriel. Yes, the scenes about him were long but I don't know if the character would have such an impact on me without them.
    I remember reading an article a few years ago about a classic book submitted as a joke to an editor that rejected it because he found it too long and without interest (if my memory is correct, I cannot find the article anymore).

  3. I agree about the tangents...especially the Waterloo one.. I admit to skipping a few pages there. Alex, I agree although long winded I actually didn't mind re the Bishop as it gave me a good sense of his character which I really enjoyed. Re Javert - he is incredibly persistent when it comes to Valjean even seeking him out after a number of years and being presumed dead. I'm not sure I had a favourite scene this week just generally enjoying the read.

  4. I am on page 1130, so I'm almost finished. Then will write a review @
    In answer to your questions:
    I too call them tangents and or rabbit trails. Hugo takes off sometimes on these excursions whether it is a story about a village, or bench, or war. He is a storyteller, magnifique! I don't mind at all. I did not skip, but did speed read through some areas, for example battle scenes. I did understand the jest of what'd read, but didn't read every word.
    Javert is a dynamic and zealous character. He never gives up on a quest. Javert is Valjean's arch-enemy. I believe that Javert was never out to be the hated enemy, he believed Valjean was the enemy. Even though I did not like Javert, I admired his tenacity.

  5. Daystarz,

    It seems like the Bishop really made a good impression on us.
    Javert's obsession about Valjean really bothers me, but I can understand how his parents past make him even more unforgiven towards Jean. His scenes feel almost oppressing sometimes. Right now he's actually growing on me, but I don't know if I can forgive his cruelty all those years. I'm still thinking about it...


    I'm looking forward to your review. You're so right about Javert. Jean commited a crime, hence he has to pay. For him it's as simple as that.