Thursday, April 03, 2008

Les Misérables: Take Three

Three times I have resolved to read Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.

The first was when I visited Hugo's tomb in Paris at the age of seventeen. It seemed a properly writerly thing to do to visit his tomb, but I did recognize that it would have been a more meaningful pilgrimage if I had actually read the man's work.

The second was a few years later when I stumbled upon a black and white film adaptation on late night television that thoroughly piqued my interest in the character of Jean Valjean. (I think it was this version, but I'd have to watch it again to be sure.)

The third was earlier this year when Danielle proposed reading it en masse.

Alas I did not follow through on occasions one or two. I don't think I even got as as far along as checking the book out of the library. But I feel sure that the third time will be the charm with me and Les Misérables, particularly now that Danielle's suggestion has crystalized into a formal group read with its own blog home, Into the Parisian Underworld, set up by Ashleigh. I'm confident that the enthusiasm of my fellow bloggers for the enterprise will buoy me up if my own flags.

I concede that the early passages about the bishop aren't exactly gripping. (Is it sacrilege to say that I understand why the movie didn't begin with him?) But the odd line has made me laugh out loud and I'm sure things will liven up when Jean Valjean enters the narrative.

So look for more posts on Les Misérables as I progress through it. And please join us at Into the Parisian Underworld if you fancy reading along. I anticipate much interesting discussion of the book among the group read participants.


Heather said...

you're braver than I

Jenny said...

Remember it's okay to skip things that are boring. Like the bit about Waterloo. Just skip right over it.

That said, I liked the stuff about the bishop. It didn't go fast but aw, the bishop was so sweet. (I'm such a sucker.)

BookAddictInterviews said...

Did you read the 1000 page version or 500? I had to read the 500 page version at age 14 for class. mmm sparknotes. I'd like to pick up the full version one of these weeks and have a stab at it after reading more literature since my first try

Dame Nuggis said...

'remember it's okay to skip things that are boring'!!!
The trick is to treat it like a box of chocolates - somethimes you'll gorge upon it, sometimes you'll take bits of it. It is a book to be savoured - Yes - Hugo goes into inordinate detail at times( like the Parisian sewage system) but, and I mean but, it is an amazing book and I am not ashamed to admit that when I finished it, sitting on the Tube, there were tears streaming down my cheek!
Take it slowly - its a book to be read in bits rather than in one go.
Also - A cheat - BBC radio 7 is dramatising Les Mis - check it out - abridged but v faithful dramitiation