Les Miserables.

May 10, 2006

Don’t be fooled. I thought I knew a little bit about the plot of this monstrosity. A vague familiarity with the musical production, and the synopses provided by friends lent me a tragic overconfidence. Imagine the sting of hubris when I completed the first “Book”

(as a sideline, each “Book” contains a number of chapters, and “Books” are contained themselves in a “Part”; as I browsed through the table of contents, I was shocked to discover not a reasonable or modest 2 or 3 “Parts”, but somewhere in the vicinity of a dozen. Although no stranger to the gargantuan literary output of authors in the age of magazine serials, I still found it difficult to maintain my studied and precise composure)

only to discover that none of the principal characters were introduced or even mentioned. In fact, with respectful deference to M. Hugo’s artistic license, my cursory knowledge of “Les Miserables” in the birds-eye view would lead me to suggest that absolutely nothing in this entire “Book” had anything whatsoever to do with the plot.

In my younger days, I made a similar attempt to attain the summit of this pinnacle of effluvium. I was halted by the seeming lack of progress in the first chapter. Imagine my horror upon discovering that the sweltering doldrums which constitute this work’s “beginning” (an appelation applied with some doubt) extended not through the first chapter, but through the entire first book (and possibly, beyond)!

It might be added, that I enjoyed the section immensely nonetheless. I would suggest to M. Hugo that this section be posthumously spun-off into another series … “Les Miserables Adventures”? “More Les Miserables”?

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