Thursday, July 21, 2011

Les Misérable - by Victor Hugo

 I am afraid you are going to have to pay for Les Misérable by Victor Hugo. ($0.99 US Edition) (£1.44 UK Edition)   (Pay no attention to the bizarre and unappealing cover. We e-book readers don’t care about covers.)
The free version is “notably condensed” and “inevitably cuts many of the intricate subplots and minor characters who enrich Hugo's vast tome.”  Although authors are on record praising the new translation, I downloaded the free chapter and I see no mention of a translator or any publication information.  I doubt that Jeanette Winterson said, “This is the [translation] to read. . . ”
So let’s move away from that bad free edition! 

This is a big book and you want to read the whole thing.  The famous story of revolution (no, not that revolution – an earlier revolution), revenge and redemption is like any long book, a world unto itself.  I am a fan of long books and I think a lot of Muggles would agree with me! 
"In fact, when the scaffold is there, all erected and prepared, it has something about it which produces hallucination. One may feel a certain indifference to the death penalty, one may refrain from pronouncing upon it, from saying yes or no, so long as one has not seen a guillotine with one's own eyes: but if one encounters one of them, the shock is violent; one is forced to decide, and to take part for or against. Some admire it, like de Maistre; others execrate it, like Beccaria. The guillotine is the concretion of the law; it is called vindicte; it is not neutral, and it does not permit you to remain neutral. He who sees it shivers with the most mysterious of shivers. All social problems erect their interrogation point around this chopping-knife. The scaffold is a vision. The scaffold is not a piece of carpentry; the scaffold is not a machine; the scaffold is not an inert bit of mechanism constructed of wood, iron and cords."
"He paused, and then said:— "I shall die three hours hence." Then he continued:— "I am something of a doctor; I know in what fashion the last hour draws on. Yesterday, only my feet were cold; to-day, the chill has ascended to my knees; now I feel it mounting to my waist; when it reaches the heart, I shall stop. The sun is beautiful, is it not? I had myself wheeled out here to take a last look at things. You can talk to me; it does not fatigue me. You have done well to come and look at a man who is on the point of death. It is well that there should be witnesses at that moment. One has one's caprices; I should have liked to last until the dawn, but I know that I shall hardly live three hours. It will be night then. What does it matter, after all? Dying is a simple affair. One has no need of the light for that. So be it. I shall die by starlight." 
And still more
"Fantine was one of those beings who blossom, so to speak, from the dregs of the people. Though she had emerged from the most unfathomable depths of social shadow, she bore on her brow the sign of the anonymous and the unknown. She was born at M. sur M. Of what parents? Who can say? She had never known father or mother. She was called Fantine. Why Fantine? She had never borne any other name. At the epoch of her birth the Directory still existed. She had no family name; she had no family; no baptismal name; the Church no longer existed. She bore the name which pleased the first random passer-by, who had encountered her, when a very small child, running bare-legged in the street. She received the name as she received the water from the clouds upon her brow when it rained. She was called little Fantine. No one knew more than that. This human creature had entered life in just this way."
 I have to re-read this book . . .

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  1. I can get into some fantasy books, but not too many. If I see enough people raving about a fantasy novel I'll give it a shot, but I usually don't go out of my way to read them.

  2. I never used to read fantasy. Then a friend talked me into Tolkien. Read it several times and Narnia also.

    I went from anti-Harry to pro-Harry overnight thanks to John Granger. I'd recommend "Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures". Kindle edition is a bit pricey. Anyway, I consider Rowling to be a bit of an Inkling.

    I'd love to be able to finish the Lewis Space Trilogy. I haven't been able to stick with that one.

    Thanks for the reviews and links to free (and sometimes not free) books. I look forward to your posts.

  3. I can't seem to get into true fantasy either. Something about the old-timeyness of the setting and way of speaking. Now urban fantasy, on the other hand, is great.

  4. Hi Marilyn Sue: I'm excited to find your blog. You might like mine - I'm blogging about spending the year reading the books in my library and on my kindle - many free classics, but also hard copy classics I've accumulated.

    I've been hopping and reading answers to this book bloggers book hop and science fiction seems to be the top answer (it was mine) followed closely by fantasy. And a lot of people (all women, I think) are saying, like you, that they enjoyed fantasy or sci fi as kids but not more...

    Happy reading! Ruby


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