Norman MacAfee, Charles E. Wilbour, Lee Fahnestock, Isabel Florence Hapgood
January 1, 2023 March 17, 2023
10 Books in Translation in 2023, Mount TBR, Reading by the Numbers, The Backlist Reader, Translated Book Goals
Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged Inspector Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty.
What I think
I liked the book much more than War and Peace although this book also has some history though not as much as War and Peace which is way better.
I liked Fantine’s part. Although I knew her ending, her whole story is very fascinating or rather you want to know how it ends.
Valjean, there is a scene in which he thinks he is doing something and that scene reminds me of the night of the Unnamed in the Betrothed. It’s a long and a bit boring scene, I have to say this, but I also found his anxiety like in that scene from The Betrothed.
Certainly, if Hugo had lived in our time he could not have written this work. Today, reputation is only looked at at work, nobody is interested in “virtue”. This makes me understand how times have changed and how women once lived. Above all, it angers me to see that certain things happening in the world now have been surpassed in 200 years of European history. Yes there are still the poor, there are still those who don’t know what to feed their children, but these stories are few compared to the past and on one hand, I say thank goodness that we live in a world where poverty is low, but on the other hand, I wonder why those poor people still exist (even if they are few because there isn’t a level of “wealth” that is equitable so that everyone can live in dignity?). Times have really changed and this book makes me realise how lucky young people are today. They don’t know what sacrifice is and the sacrifices of their parents and grandparents are not even considered. I don’t come from a rich family, my parents broke their backs raising me and now they have reached retirement and I recognise their sacrifice. But the next generation? They have it all!
I really liked Jean Valjean as a character, I’m happy that not all the “miserable” remained miserable and that one in particular ended up like he did even if it would have been better if he didn’t become that type of person. In short, he had to rot in the sewers.
Still, I’m glad I enjoyed this classic so much. Indeed I had promised myself to read it in 6 months, but it took me less than 3! We’ll see if the next one will be like this too.