The Fancy Times

Fine Slop for the Discerning Tastemaker

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo, 1862

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”

Victor Hugo

I knew little about this story before I read it. I enjoy musicals, but I never knew anything about the one based on this. I hadn’t seen the film flops. I knew little about France besides too much of the language and a disorganized sense of its history, mostly gained when I was compelled to read A Tale of Two Cities for some school.

This giant hardcover was a gift. I started it with no idea what I had in store for me. Just as when I had read Don Quixote, the first thing that struck me was how easy it was to follow. I was childish and deluded by the needless pretensions of college and thought all books before the 20th century were overly hard to read. Not only could I keep up with this story, but I also envied it ruthlessly. The ability to spin off the way Hugo does, chapters about the Paris sewer system, chapters about the briefly lived House of Orleans monarchy. The fact that one of the most important characters in the book appears in only the first chapter. The book proved how much of what I’d paid to teachers to tell me was a pretentious falsehood. One borne out of the Big Five and whose water gets carried by well-meaning professors who just want to pay their mortgage off.

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