I dreamed that Jean Valjean convinced Javert to rescue an injured goose like he helps rescue Marius in the original. Javert took the goose to the station, issued it its own photo ID (it was a modern retelling), and the goose proceeded to follow Javert around everywhere for weeks until it got homesick and wanted him to take it back to the lagoon where Valjean had found it. Somehow it managed to convey this to him and he brought it back.
Still a bit rough around the edges, but my Gemini conversion for my Les Misérables commentary is up! The blog is now available both on the web and via Gemini.
It features commentary from two full read-throughs (in different translations) plus reviews of movie, stage, radio and comic adaptations.
Yeah, Russell Crowe was horribly miscast as a singing Inspector Javert, but he would’ve been incredible in a non-musical adaptation
And that visual image of him tightrope-walking on the edge of the roof during “Stars” is cinematically *perfect* as a metaphor for the way he sees the world and the way he goes about it. Narrow path, not an inch to the east, not an inch to the west, no thought, no decision, just one foot in front of the other or you’re doomed and it’s your own fault
And when he finally has to actually *think* about things instead of just following this extreme by-the-book authority, he freaks out and jumps because he can’t actually process anything
Death by cognitive dissonance.
Oh, um, spoilers for a 150-year-old book, sorry about that.
Going through my #LesMiserables blog after the conversion to Eleventy, making sure everything’s working right. I stumbled on this mention of Grantaire going beyond wine to some awful mixture of stout, brandy and absinthe.
Curious about what it was, I searched for the ingredients. Turns out it doesn’t exist, but someone tried to make it.
Let’s just say they don’t recommend it.
Looking for a non-Kindle place to link to a couple of #LesMiserables translations opened up a can of worms because (1) eBook stores generally don’t tell you which translation is in the book and (2) they’re *flooded* with editions using the public-domain 1862 Wilbour & 1887 Hapgood translations.
I decided to sort it out myself and make a page of links to each English translation at Project Gutenberg & 6 different eBook stores.
I also found out there was an 1863 edition from Virginia that removed all the abolitionist references, which explains why “Lee’s Miserables,” the Confederate soldiers who were fans of the book, didn’t flip out over mentions of, say, Harper’s Ferry.
Though considering that they somehow managed to identify with the societally-oppressed in a book about the evils of societal oppression, while fighting to preserve societal oppression…
Finding a specific translation of #LesMiserables as an eBook is tricky. Stores rarely list the translator & the market’s flooded with reprints of Wilbour & Hapgood. I’ve put together links to each English translation on Gutenberg & several eBook stores:
Years ago I saw a mention of Les Misérables being popular with Confederate soldiers, who were nicknamed “Lee’s Miserables.”
Even though the book is about why you shouldn’t treat people horribly even if they’re on the lower rungs of society.
Even stranger, the rare times America is mentioned, it’s to condemn slavery.
It turns out there was an 1863 edition published in Richmond that “fixed” the “Yankee” translation from the year before.
They claimed they were trying to fix up some of the idioms, but decided while they were at it to remove all the abolitionist references, insisting that the anti-slavery remarks were somehow off-topic for a book about *European* oppression.
New blog post:
A lot of #LesMiserables adaptations tend to put extra focus on Inspector Javert’s role as Jean Valjean’s persecutor, making it personal. It makes for good drama, but it misses Victor Hugo’s point that the justice *system* is unjust. Javert is only its face.
The Les Miserables Reading Companion podcast @email@example.com has gotten to the infamous chapter on the Paris sewers. There’s a surprising amount of political context that contemporary readers would have caught.
Oddly related to the post I found earlier: I was listening to the Broadway album of #LesMiserables for the first time in ages.
1. I know this version of the show well enough that the gaps in the recording are as distracting as the changes in the current production & movie.
2. On My Own & A Little Fall of Rain still hit me.
3. Bring Him Home hits me now. I wasn’t expecting that. But now I associate it with the moment in the movie when Javert finds Gavroche’s body.
The latest episode of the #LesMiserables Reading Companion podcast covers the amazing scene where Eponine single-handedly stares down 6 hardened criminals and wins.
As always, their analysis turns up some really interesting connections with other parts of the book – like the fact that Eponine channels both Javert and Thenardier, the two main antagonists, but uses their traits to act heroically.
Each time I’ve read Les Misérables, I’ve had a greater appreciation for the chapter on argot. The first time I skipped it. The second time I decided I hadn’t missed much. The third time I could see what Hugo was doing thematically:
The latest episode of the Les Mis Reading Companion is on that chapter, and they give it even more context, illustrating how language can be used for gatekeeping…or rebellion. https://readlesmis.libsyn.com/ep39-iv7i-iv-argot
Listened to the latest episode of the #LesMiserables Reading Companion. Up to the introduction of Patron-Minette & the “Jondrette” family.
1. Wow, the callback to the miner’s candlestick from back in Digne (lost in the Denny translation).
2. I hadn’t made the connection between Éponine’s 1st & Fantine’s last appearances.
3. Three times through the book & I never caught on to the implications of just how far Thénardier goes in exploiting his daughters. Ugh.
While I finished reading #LesMiserables last month, I’m still listening to a podcast about the book. The podcaster is a French professor who uses the book in her class, and each week she discusses a few chapters of the book. She’s a little way into Part Three at this point, up to the introduction of the ABC society.
Its been fascinating to listen to, and I’d recommend it to anyone else who’s a fan of the book or is interested in reading it and wants more context.
I finished #LesMiserables today.
6 months’ worth of lunch hours as I found, time and again, that a 150-year old book set 200 years ago on another continent continues to be relevant in ways I wish it wasn’t.
I wish everyone had the time and patience to read it. I think a lot of people would gain valuable perspective from it. Or maybe not. There are people who read & watch superheroes & take the use of power as the lesson, not the efforts to help the powerless.
I’ve been posting more on birdsite than here, and collecting my thoughts on my blog. For the previous read-through I ended up doing way too much plot summary, but this time I managed to keep focused on reactions and (some) analysis
Recent posts include Javert’s breakdown and the way Valjean’s ending tracks with a descent into depression.
No one accused it of being a happy book.
Today was some light lunchtime reading about the history of the Paris sewers. 😱
They’re particularly awful until a dangerous multi-year exploration starts in 1806. Slightly improved by 1832, much better by 1862.
And I kid you not, Hugo insists that Paris has the best *sewage*. While complaining about how we flush all that fertilizer out to sea, he actually describes “Parisian guano” as “the richest of all.”
I finished the June Rebellion chapters of #LesMiserables early afternoon on June 6, the same time that the barricade fell in the book. That was kind of weird.
Lots of commentary and philosophy on revolution & urban/civil warfare, presented as supporting for the story, but I realize now it’s the other way around.
I was hoping to have finished reading the barricade section of #LesMiserables in time for #barricadeday, but the last few days have been packed & I don’t think I’ll have much time to read at lunch today.
There’s not much plot from where I left off to the last stand, but it’s dense.