A lot of #LesMiserables adaptations tend to put extra focus on 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.
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 @firstname.lastname@example.org 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: https://www.hyperborea.org/les-mis/book/slang/
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.
One thing about #LesMiserables that always seemed odd: at times we see the start of someone’s inner turmoil in great detail, but the POV pulls away before we can see how they actually *make* the decision.
Ex: When Valjean heads to the barricade to…save Marius? Make sure he dies? Who knows?
This time through, I understand: he hasn’t decided, but he can’t let fate take the responsibility away from him.
More at my blog: https://www.hyperborea.org/les-mis/book/hidden-decision/
I’ve finished part 3 (of 5) of #LesMiserables, which ends on a solid cliffhanger.
Something I realized is a major difference from the last time I read it: I’m looking ahead for connections, not just backward. Since It’s only been 5 years since the last time, I remember more of the book (and not just the musical).
I’ve also started listening to a weekly podcast that’s also going through the book this year, which has been fascinating: https://readlesmis.libsyn.com/
One of many things that gets lost in adaptation is the extended courtship between Marius & Cosette (usually condensed to love at first sight). They pass each other in the park on a daily basis w/o paying much attention to each other, until she hits puberty & they start stealing glances at each other, trying to keep Valjean from noticing. She’s a lot better at that part than he is, though, which gets funny at times.
It does get creepy later on when Marius starts, well, creeping around her garden at night.
But at this point, it’s funny watching Marius hide behind trees so he & Cosette can make eyes at each other w/o Valjean seeing, make a fool over himself with the handkerchief he thinks she dropped (it was actually Valjean’s, so she can’t understand why he’s so fascinated by it), etc.
And when Valjean gets suspicious, and sets traps? Marius blunders into every single one.
Marius’ grandfather, after reading the morning news, rants about kids these days, their sloppy dressing, entitlement, disrespect for political systems that were good enough back in his day, disparages their masculinity, makes racist comparisons, & declares all news media a scourge.
It’s presented as ridiculous. And it is.
But it’s also depressing in how familiar it is. >150 years later, it’s exactly what you’d expect from an old man shouting at the news today. #lesmiserables
#LesMiserables update: Donougher preserves a lot more of Hugo’s wordplay than Denny. One pun Denny couldn’t get rid of: the Friends of the ABC (abaissé). It’s the whole point of the name.
Also Lesgle/L’Aigle/Lègle/Lesguelles, who goes by Bossuet to avoid spelling issues. (Not sure if “legal eagle” works in French.)
Grantaire signs his name w/a grand R.
Great humor in Bossuet’s bad luck, Joly’s hypochondria, & Feuilly’s obsession w/the partition of Poland as the root of the world’s ills.
#LesMiserables update: Hugo describes the members of M. Gillenormand’s salon in as much detail as the students, even though they disappear quickly. It’s like taking time to introduce everyone in the Mos Eisley Cantina (or Canto Bight, since it makes a point abt society. The Cantina’s just there to show Luke’s naive.)
I remember Tales From the Mos Eisley Cantina being a fun read, but #StarWars A New Hope didn’t come to dead stop while we learned everyone’s backstory only to never see them again.
#introductions time! I’m an LA-area programmer, #scifi / #comics / #fantasy fan & hobbyist photographer. I’ve been @kelsonv for a while, but I keep meaning to look for a more specific instance for fandom-related discussions. It looks like this might be it?
In the middle of re-reading all of #LesMiserables, currently on the chapters introducing Marius.
It’s weird how it hides the instance name…my other accounts are on mastodon.social (my main one) and photog.social (my photography). Maybe I should’ve picked different usernames as well just for clarity?