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Les misérables Tome III
Marius

Les misérables Tome III Marius

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Les misérables Tome III Marius

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À propos de l'auteur

The best-known of the French Romantic writers, Victor Hugo was a poet, novelist, dramatist, and political critic. Hugo was an avid supporter of French republicanism and advocate for social and political equality, themes that reflect most strongly in his works Les Misérables, Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), and Le Dernier jour d'un condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man). Hugo’s literary works were successful from the outset, earning him a pension from Louis XVIII and membership in the prestigious Académie française, and influencing the work of literary figures such as Albert Camus, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Elevated to the peerage by King Louis-Philippe, Hugo played an active role in French politics through the 1848 Revolution and into the Second and Third Republics. Hugo died in 1885, revered not only for his influence on French literature, but also for his role in shaping French democracy. He is buried in the Panthéon alongside Alexandre Dumas and Émile Zola.


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Les misérables Tome III Marius - Victor Hugo

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Title: Les misérables Tome III

       Marius

Author: Victor Hugo

Release Date: January 11, 2006 [EBook #17494]

[This file last updated on September 27, 2010]

Language: French

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LES MISÉRABLES TOME III ***

Produced by Ebooks libres et gratuits and Chuck Greif;

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Les Misérables

Victor Hugo

Tome III—MARIUS

(1862)



Livre premier—Paris étudié dans son atome


Chapitre I

Parvulus

Paris a un enfant et la forêt a un oiseau; l'oiseau s'appelle le moineau; l'enfant s'appelle le gamin.

Accouplez ces deux idées qui contiennent, l'une toute la fournaise, l'autre toute l'aurore, choquez ces étincelles, Paris, l'enfance; il en jaillit un petit être. Homuncio, dirait Plaute.

Ce petit être est joyeux. Il ne mange pas tous les jours et il va au spectacle, si bon lui semble, tous les soirs. Il n'a pas de chemise sur le corps, pas de souliers aux pieds, pas de toit sur la tête; il est comme les mouches du ciel qui n'ont rien de tout cela. Il a de sept à treize ans, vit par bandes, bat le pavé, loge en plein air, porte un vieux pantalon de son père qui lui descend plus bas que les talons, un vieux chapeau de quelque autre père qui lui descend plus bas que les oreilles, une seule bretelle en lisière jaune, court, guette, quête, perd le temps, culotte des pipes, jure comme un damné, hante le cabaret, connaît des voleurs, tutoie des filles, parle argot, chante des chansons obscènes, et n'a rien de mauvais dans le cœur. C'est qu'il a dans l'âme une perle, l'innocence, et les perles ne se dissolvent pas dans la boue. Tant que l'homme est enfant, Dieu veut qu'il soit innocent.

Si l'on demandait à l'énorme ville: Qu'est-ce que c'est que cela? elle répondrait: C'est mon petit.


Chapitre II

Quelques-uns de ses signes particuliers

Le gamin de Paris, c'est le nain de la géante.

N'exagérons point, ce chérubin du ruisseau a quelquefois une chemise mais alors il n'en a qu'une; il a quelquefois des souliers, mais alors ils n'ont point de semelles; il a quelquefois un logis, et il l'aime, car il y trouve sa mère; mais il préfère la rue, parce qu'il y trouve la liberté. Il a ses jeux à lui, ses malices à lui dont la haine des bourgeois fait le fond; ses métaphores à lui; être mort, cela s'appelle manger des pissenlits par la racine; ses métiers à lui, amener des fiacres, baisser les marchepieds des voitures, établir des péages d'un côté de la rue à l'autre dans les grosses pluies, ce qu'il appelle faire des ponts des arts, crier les discours prononcés par l'autorité en faveur du peuple français, gratter l'entre-deux des pavés; il a sa monnaie à lui, qui se compose de tous les petits morceaux de cuivre façonné qu'on peut trouver sur la voie publique. Cette curieuse monnaie, qui prend le nom de loques, a un cours invariable et fort bien réglé dans cette petite bohème d'enfants.

Enfin il a sa faune à lui, qu'il observe studieusement dans des coins; la bête à bon Dieu, le puceron tête-de-mort, le faucheux, le «diable», insecte noir qui menace en tordant sa queue armée de deux cornes. Il a son monstre fabuleux qui a des écailles sous le ventre et qui n'est pas un lézard, qui a des pustules sur le dos et qui n'est pas un crapaud, qui habite les trous des vieux fours à chaux et des puisards desséchés, noir, velu, visqueux, rampant, tantôt lent, tantôt rapide, qui ne crie pas, mais qui regarde, et qui est si terrible que personne ne l'a jamais vu; il nomme ce monstre «le sourd». Chercher des sourds dans les pierres, c'est un plaisir du genre redoutable. Autre plaisir, lever brusquement un pavé, et voir des cloportes. Chaque région de Paris est célèbre par les trouvailles intéressantes qu'on peut y faire. Il y a des perce-oreilles dans les chantiers des Ursulines, il y a des mille-pieds au Panthéon, il y a des têtards dans les fossés du Champ de Mars.

Quant à des mots, cet enfant en a comme Talleyrand. Il n'est pas moins cynique, mais il est plus honnête. Il est doué d'on ne sait quelle jovialité imprévue; il ahurit le boutiquier de son fou rire. Sa gamme va gaillardement de la haute comédie à la farce.

Un enterrement passe. Parmi ceux qui accompagnent le mort, il y a un médecin.—Tiens, s'écrie un gamin, depuis quand les médecins reportent-ils leur ouvrage?

Un autre est dans une foule. Un homme grave, orné de lunettes et de breloques, se retourne indigné:—Vaurien, tu viens de prendre «la taille» à ma femme.

—Moi, monsieur! fouillez-moi.


Chapitre III

Il est agréable

Le soir, grâce à quelques sous qu'il trouve toujours moyen de se procurer, l'homuncio entre dans un théâtre. En franchissant ce seuil magique, il se transfigure; il était le gamin, il devient le titi. Les théâtres sont des espèces de vaisseaux retournés qui ont la cale en haut. C'est dans cette cale que le titi s'entasse. Le titi est au gamin ce que la phalène est à la larve; le même être envolé et planant. Il suffit qu'il soit là, avec son rayonnement de bonheur, avec sa puissance d'enthousiasme et de joie, avec son battement de mains qui ressemble à un battement d'ailes, pour que cette cale étroite, fétide, obscure, sordide, malsaine, hideuse, abominable, se nomme le Paradis.

Donnez à un être l'inutile et ôtez-lui le nécessaire, vous aurez le gamin.

Le gamin n'est pas sans quelque intuition littéraire. Sa tendance, nous le disons avec la quantité de regret qui convient, ne serait point le goût classique. Il est, de sa nature, peu académique. Ainsi, pour donner un exemple, la popularité de mademoiselle Mars dans ce petit public d'enfants orageux était assaisonnée d'une pointe d'ironie. Le gamin l'appelait mademoiselle Muche.

Cet être braille, raille, gouaille, bataille, a des chiffons comme un bambin et des guenilles comme un philosophe, pêche dans l'égout, chasse dans le cloaque, extrait la gaîté de l'immondice, fouaille de sa verve les carrefours, ricane et mord, siffle et chante, acclame et engueule, tempère Alleluia par Matanturlurette, psalmodie tous les rythmes depuis le De Profundis jusqu'à la Chienlit, trouve sans chercher, sait ce qu'il ignore, est spartiate jusqu'à la filouterie, est fou jusqu'à la sagesse, est lyrique jusqu'à l'ordure, s'accroupirait sur l'Olympe, se vautre dans le fumier et en sort couvert d'étoiles. Le gamin de Paris, c'est Rabelais petit.

Il n'est pas content de sa culotte, s'il n'y a point de gousset de montre.

Il s'étonne peu, s'effraye encore moins, chansonne les superstitions, dégonfle les exagérations, blague les mystères, tire la langue aux revenants, dépoétise les échasses, introduit la caricature dans les grossissements épiques. Ce n'est pas qu'il est prosaïque; loin de là; mais il remplace la vision solennelle par la fantasmagorie farce. Si Adamastor lui apparaissait, le gamin dirait: Tiens! Croquemitaine!


Chapitre IV

Il peut être utile

Paris commence au badaud et finit au gamin, deux êtres dont aucune autre ville n'est capable; l'acceptation passive qui se satisfait de regarder, et l'initiative inépuisable; Prudhomme et Fouillou. Paris seul a cela dans son histoire naturelle. Toute la monarchie est dans le badaud. Toute l'anarchie est dans le gamin.

Ce pâle enfant des faubourgs de Paris vit et se développe, se noue et «se dénoue» dans la souffrance, en présence des réalités sociales et des choses humaines, témoin pensif. Il se croit lui-même insouciant; il ne l'est pas. Il regarde, prêt à rire; prêt à autre chose aussi. Qui que vous soyez qui vous nommez Préjugé, Abus, Ignominie, Oppression, Iniquité, Despotisme, Injustice, Fanatisme, Tyrannie, prenez garde au gamin béant.

Ce petit grandira.

De quelle argile est-il fait? de la première fange venue. Une poignée de boue, un souffle, et voilà Adam. Il suffît qu'un dieu passe. Un dieu a toujours passé sur le gamin. La fortune travaille à ce petit être. Par ce mot la fortune, nous entendons un peu l'aventure. Ce pygmée pétri à même dans la grosse terre commune, ignorant, illettré, ahuri, vulgaire, populacier, sera-ce un ionien ou un béotien? Attendez, currit rota, l'esprit de Paris, ce démon qui crée les enfants du hasard et les hommes du destin, au rebours du potier latin, fait de la cruche une amphore.


Chapitre V

Ses frontières

Le gamin aime la ville, il aime aussi la solitude, ayant du sage en lui. Urbis amator, comme Fuscus; ruris amator, comme Flaccus.

Errer songeant, c'est-à-dire flâner, est un bon emploi du temps pour le philosophe; particulièrement dans cette espèce de campagne un peu bâtarde, assez laide, mais bizarre et composée de deux natures, qui entoure certaines grandes villes, notamment Paris. Observer la banlieue, c'est observer l'amphibie. Fin des arbres, commencement des toits, fin de l'herbe, commencement du pavé, fin des sillons, commencement des boutiques, fin des ornières, commencement des passions, fin du murmure divin, commencement de la rumeur humaine; de là un intérêt extraordinaire.

De là, dans ces lieux peu attrayants, et marqués à jamais par le passant de l'épithète: triste, les promenades, en apparence sans but, du songeur.

Celui qui écrit ces lignes a été longtemps rôdeur de barrières à Paris, et c'est pour lui une source de souvenirs profonds. Ce gazon ras, ces sentiers pierreux, cette craie, ces marnes, ces plâtres, ces âpres monotonies des friches et des jachères, les plants de primeurs des maraîchers aperçus tout à coup dans un fond, ce mélange du sauvage et du bourgeois, ces vastes recoins déserts où les tambours de la garnison tiennent bruyamment école et font une sorte de bégayement de la bataille, ces thébaïdes le jour, coupe-gorge la nuit, le moulin dégingandé qui tourne au vent, les roues d'extraction des carrières, les guinguettes au coin des cimetières, le charme mystérieux des grands murs sombres coupant carrément d'immenses terrains vagues inondés de soleil et pleins de papillons, tout cela l'attirait.

Presque personne sur la terre ne connaît ces lieux singuliers, la Glacière, la Cunette, le hideux mur de Grenelle tigré de balles, le Mont-Parnasse, la Fosse-aux-Loups, les Aubiers sur la berge de la Marne, Montsouris, la Tombe-Issoire, la Pierre-Plate de Châtillon où il y a une vieille carrière épuisée qui ne sert plus qu'à faire pousser des champignons, et que ferme à fleur de terre une trappe en planches pourries. La campagne de Rome est une idée, la banlieue de Paris en est une autre; ne voir dans ce que nous offre un horizon rien que des champs, des maisons ou des arbres, c'est rester à la surface; tous les aspects des choses sont des pensées de Dieu. Le lieu où une plaine fait sa jonction avec une ville est toujours empreint d'on ne sait quelle mélancolie pénétrante. La nature et l'humanité vous y parlent à la fois. Les originalités locales y apparaissent.

Quiconque a erré comme nous dans ces solitudes contiguës à nos faubourgs qu'on pourrait nommer les limbes de Paris, y a entrevu çà et là, à l'endroit le plus abandonné, au moment le plus inattendu, derrière une haie maigre ou dans l'angle d'un mur lugubre, des enfants, groupés tumultueusement, fétides, boueux, poudreux, dépenaillés, hérissés, qui jouent à la pigoche couronnés de bleuets. Ce sont tous les petits échappés des familles pauvres. Le boulevard extérieur est leur milieu respirable; la banlieue leur appartient. Ils y font une éternelle école buissonnière. Ils y chantent ingénument leur répertoire de chansons malpropres. Ils sont là, ou pour mieux dire, ils existent là, loin de tout regard, dans la douce clarté de mai ou de juin, agenouillés autour d'un trou dans la terre, chassant des billes avec le pouce, se disputant des liards, irresponsables, envolés, lâchés, heureux; et, dès qu'ils vous aperçoivent, ils se souviennent qu'ils ont une industrie, et qu'il leur faut gagner leur vie, et ils vous offrent à vendre un vieux bas de laine plein de hannetons ou une touffe de lilas. Ces rencontres d'enfants étranges sont une des grâces charmantes, et en même temps poignantes, des environs de Paris.

Quelquefois, dans ces tas de garçons, il y a des petites filles,—sont-ce leurs sœurs?—presque jeunes filles, maigres, fiévreuses, gantées de hâle, marquées de taches de rousseur, coiffées d'épis de seigle et de coquelicots, gaies, hagardes, pieds nus. On en voit qui mangent des cerises dans les blés. Le soir on les entend rire. Ces groupes, chaudement éclairés de la pleine lumière de midi ou entrevus dans le crépuscule, occupent longtemps le songeur, et ces visions se mêlent à son rêve.

Paris, centre, la banlieue, circonférence; voilà pour ces enfants toute la terre. Jamais ils ne se hasardent au delà. Ils ne peuvent pas plus sortir de l'atmosphère parisienne que les poissons ne peuvent sortir de l'eau. Pour eux, à deux lieues des barrières, il n'y a plus rien. Ivry, Gentilly, Arcueil, Belleville, Aubervilliers, Ménilmontant Choisy-le-Roi, Billancourt, Meudon, Issy, Vanves, Sèvres, Puteaux, Neuilly, Gennevilliers, Colombes, Romainville, Chatou, Asnières, Bougival, Nanterre, Enghien, Noisy-le-Sec, Nogent, Gournay, Drancy, Gonesse, c'est là que finit l'univers.


Chapitre VI

Un peu d'histoire

À l'époque, d'ailleurs presque contemporaine, où se passe l'action de ce livre, il n'y avait pas, comme aujourd'hui, un sergent de ville à chaque coin de rue (bienfait qu'il n'est pas temps de discuter); les enfants errants abondaient dans Paris. Les statistiques donnent une moyenne de deux cent soixante enfants sans asile ramassés alors annuellement par les rondes de police dans les terrains non clos, dans les maisons en construction et sous les arches des ponts. Un de ces nids, resté fameux, a produit «les hirondelles du pont d'Arcole». C'est là, du reste, le plus désastreux des symptômes sociaux. Tous les crimes de l'homme commencent au vagabondage de l'enfant.

Exceptons Paris pourtant. Dans une mesure relative, et nonobstant le souvenir que nous venons de rappeler, l'exception est juste. Tandis que dans toute autre grande ville un enfant vagabond est un homme perdu, tandis que, presque partout, l'enfant livré à lui-même est en quelque sorte dévoué et abandonné à une sorte d'immersion fatale dans les vices publics qui dévore en lui l'honnêteté et la conscience, le gamin de Paris, insistons-y, si fruste, et si entamé à la surface, est intérieurement à peu près intact. Chose magnifique à constater et qui éclate dans la splendide probité de nos révolutions populaires, une certaine incorruptibilité résulte de l'idée qui est dans l'air de Paris comme du sel qui est dans l'eau de l'océan. Respirer Paris, cela conserve l'âme.

Ce que nous disons là n'ôte rien au serrement de cœur dont on se sent pris chaque fois qu'on rencontre un de ces enfants autour desquels il semble qu'on voie flotter les fils de la famille brisée. Dans la civilisation actuelle, si incomplète encore, ce n'est point une chose très anormale que ces fractures de familles se vidant dans l'ombre, ne sachant plus trop ce que leurs enfants sont devenus, et laissant tomber leurs entrailles sur la voie publique. De là des destinées obscures. Cela s'appelle, car cette chose triste a fait locution, «être jeté sur le pavé de Paris».

Soit dit en passant, ces abandons d'enfants n'étaient point découragés par l'ancienne monarchie. Un peu d'Égypte et de Bohême dans les basses régions accommodait les hautes sphères, et faisait l'affaire des puissants. La haine de l'enseignement des enfants du peuple était un dogme. À quoi bon les «demi-lumières»? Tel était le mot d'ordre. Or l'enfant errant est le corollaire de l'enfant ignorant.

D'ailleurs, la monarchie avait quelquefois besoin d'enfants, et alors elle écumait la rue. Sous Louis XIV, pour ne pas remonter plus haut, le roi voulait, avec raison, créer une flotte. L'idée était bonne. Mais voyons le moyen. Pas de flotte si, à côté du navire à voiles, jouet du vent, et pour le remorquer au besoin, on n'a pas le navire qui va où il veut, soit par la rame, soit par la vapeur; les galères étaient alors à la marine ce que sont aujourd'hui les steamers. Il fallait donc des galères; mais la galère ne se meut que par le galérien; il fallait donc des galériens. Colbert faisait faire par les intendants de province et par les parlements le plus de forçats qu'il pouvait. La magistrature y mettait beaucoup de complaisance. Un homme gardait son chapeau sur sa tête devant une procession, attitude huguenote; on l'envoyait aux galères. On rencontrait un enfant dans la rue, pourvu qu'il eût quinze ans et qu'il ne sût où coucher, on l'envoyait aux galères. Grand règne; grand siècle.

Sous Louis XV, les enfants disparaissaient dans Paris; la police les enlevait, on ne sait pour quel mystérieux emploi. On chuchotait avec épouvante de monstrueuses conjectures sur les bains de pourpre du roi. Barbier parle naïvement de ces choses. Il arrivait parfois que les exempts, à court d'enfants, en prenaient qui avaient des pères. Les pères, désespérés, couraient sus aux exempts. En ce cas-là, le parlement intervenait, et faisait pendre, qui? Les exempts? Non. Les pères.


Chapitre VII

Le gamin aurait sa place dans les classifications de l'Inde

La gaminerie parisienne est presque une caste. On pourrait dire: n'en est pas qui veut.

Ce mot, gamin, fut imprimé pour la première fois et arriva de la langue populaire dans la langue littéraire en 1834. C'est dans un opuscule intitulé Claude Gueux que ce mot fit son apparition. Le scandale fut vif. Le mot a passé.

Les éléments qui constituent la considération des gamins entre eux sont très variés. Nous en avons connu et pratiqué un qui était fort respecté et fort admiré pour avoir vu tomber un homme du haut des tours de Notre-Dame; un autre, pour avoir réussi à pénétrer dans l'arrière-cour où étaient momentanément déposées les statues du dôme des Invalides et leur avoir «chipé» du plomb; un troisième, pour avoir vu verser une diligence; un autre encore, parce qu'il «connaissait» un soldat qui avait manqué crever un œil à un bourgeois.

C'est ce qui explique cette exclamation d'un gamin parisien, épiphonème profond dont le vulgaire rit sans le comprendre:—Dieu de Dieu! ai-je du malheur! dire que je n'ai pas encore vu quelqu'un tomber d'un cinquième! (Ai-je se prononce j'ai-t-y; cinquième se prononce cintième.)

Certes, c'est un beau mot de paysan que celui-ci: Père un tel, votre femme est morte de sa maladie; pourquoi n'avez-vous pas envoyé chercher de médecin? Que voulez-vous, monsieur, nous autres pauvres gens, j'nous mourons nous-mêmes. Mais si toute la passivité narquoise du paysan est dans ce mot, toute l'anarchie libre-penseuse du mioche faubourien est, à coup sûr, dans cet autre. Un condamné à mort dans la charrette écoute son confesseur. L'enfant de Paris se récrie:—Il parle à son calotin. Oh! le capon!

Une certaine audace en matière religieuse rehausse le gamin. Être esprit fort est important.

Assister aux exécutions constitue un devoir. On se montre la guillotine et l'on rit. On l'appelle de toutes sortes de petits noms:—Fin de la soupe,—Grognon,—La mère au Bleu (au ciel),—La dernière bouchée,—etc., etc. Pour ne rien perdre de la chose, on escalade les murs, on se hisse aux balcons, on monte aux arbres, on se suspend aux grilles, on s'accroche aux cheminées. Le gamin naît couvreur comme il naît marin. Un toit ne lui fait pas plus peur qu'un mât. Pas de fête qui vaille la Grève. Samson et l'abbé Montés sont les vrais noms populaires. On hue le patient pour l'encourager. On l'admire quelquefois. Lacenaire, gamin, voyant l'affreux Dautun mourir bravement, a dit ce mot où il y a un avenir: J'en étais jaloux. Dans la gaminerie, on ne connaît pas Voltaire, mais on connaît Papavoine. On mêle dans la même légende «les politiques» aux assassins. On a les traditions du dernier vêtement de tous. On sait que Tolleron avait un bonnet de chauffeur, Avril une casquette de loutre, Louvel un chapeau rond, que le vieux Delaporte était chauve et nu-tête, que Castaing était tout rose et très joli, que Bories avait une barbiche romantique, que Jean Martin avait gardé ses bretelles, que Lecouffé et sa mère se querellaient.—Ne vous reprochez donc pas votre panier, leur cria un gamin. Un autre, pour voir passer Debacker, trop petit dans la foule, avise la lanterne du quai et y grimpe. Un gendarme, de station là, fronce le sourcil.—Laissez-moi monter, m'sieu le gendarme, dit le gamin. Et pour attendrir l'autorité, il ajoute: Je ne tomberai pas.—Je m'importe peu que tu tombes, répond le gendarme.

Dans la gaminerie, un accident mémorable est fort compté. On parvient au sommet de la considération s'il arrive qu'on se coupe très profondément, «jusqu'à l'os».

Le poing n'est pas un médiocre élément de respect. Une des choses que le gamin dit le plus volontiers, c'est: Je suis joliment fort, va!—Être gaucher vous rend fort enviable. Loucher est une chose estimée.


Chapitre VIII

Où on lira un mot charmant du dernier roi

L'été, il se métamorphose en grenouille; et le soir, à la nuit tombante, devant les ponts d'Austerlitz et d'Iéna, du haut des trains à charbon et des bateaux de blanchisseuses, il se précipite tête baissée dans la Seine et dans toutes les infractions possibles aux lois de la pudeur et de la police. Cependant les sergents de ville veillent, et il en résulte une situation hautement dramatique qui a donné lieu une fois à un cri fraternel et mémorable; ce cri, qui fut célèbre vers 1830, est un avertissement stratégique de gamin à gamin; il se scande comme un vers d'Homère, avec une notation presque aussi inexprimable que la mélopée éleusiaque des Panathénées, et l'on y retrouve l'antique Évohé. Le voici:—Ohé, Titi, ohéée! y a de la grippe, y a de la cogne, prends tes zardes et va-t'en, pâsse par l'égout!

Quelquefois ce moucheron—c'est ainsi qu'il se qualifie lui-même—sait lire; quelquefois il sait écrire, toujours il sait barbouiller. Il n'hésite pas à se donner, par on ne sait quel mystérieux enseignement mutuel, tous les talents qui peuvent être utiles à la chose publique: de 1815 à 1830, il imitait le cri du dindon; de 1830 à 1848, il griffonnait une poire sur les murailles. Un soir d'été, Louis-Philippe, rentrant à pied, en vit un, tout petit, haut comme cela, qui suait et se haussait pour charbonner une poire gigantesque sur un des piliers de la grille de Neuilly; le roi, avec cette bonhomie qui lui venait de Henri IV, aida le gamin, acheva la poire, et donna un louis à l'enfant en lui disant: La poire est aussi là-dessus. Le gamin aime le hourvari. Un certain état violent lui plaît. Il exècre «les curés». Un jour, rue de l'université, un de ces jeunes drôles faisait un pied de nez à la porte cochère du numéro 69.—Pourquoi fais-tu cela à cette porte? lui demanda un passant. L'enfant répondit: Il y a là un curé. C'est là, en effet, que demeure le nonce du pape. Cependant, quel que soit le voltairianisme du gamin, si l'occasion se présente d'être enfant de chœur, il se peut qu'il accepte, et dans ce cas il sert la messe poliment. Il y a deux choses dont il est le Tantale et qu'il désire toujours sans y atteindre jamais: renverser le gouvernement et faire recoudre son pantalon.

Le gamin à

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Ce que les gens pensent de Les misérables Tome III Marius

4.3
47 évaluations / 47 Avis
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Avis des lecteurs

  • (4/5)
    I originally read this when I was 13 years old, and have finally revisited it at 50. How strange that it remains a 4 star read for me. Not because it looks the same, but because I have traded in my youthful set of issues with this tale for a completely different set.

    I will not bore you with my youthful perceptions. Instead, if you are so foolish as to continue reading, I will bore you with my perceptions as an old fart:

    Hugo did an excellent job of conveying how selfish and judgmental people were in France during the early 1800's. IMO that capacity has always existed in humans. It's something that every parent battles to eradicate from their own children. Sometimes it feels like there is not a single day when this war is not being waged. Well, parenthood is not for the faint of heart.

    This author also leans heavily upon religion as a redeeming force for mankind. And I fully agree that religion can be a great force for good. But IMO, religion also happens to be a construct that we humans invented for that very purpose. Of course, the construct did not have to be an actual being. Philosophy, or even science, would also do. So long as the constructed system fully embodied mankind's need for the universe to make sense and to be a worthwhile place for us to live together.

    P.S. Please accept my apologies if this review has offended you. I like to imagine that I live in a world where diverse opinions are allowed. But I surely do appreciate that hearing an alien view of reality can feel like a personal attack.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. I was expecting something somewhere between Trollope's extraordinary writing and Zola's wonderful stories - and I got it! Great literature indeed, and what a character Jean Valjean is.

    His story is almost biblical, one of redemption. One who travels the path from evil to good with scarcely a stumble but many an obstruction along the way. Hugo uses the book, much as Tolstoy liked to do, to expound his personal philosophy and also the condition of the peasants, les miserables.

    Good, excellent, as the book was, I am left with one question, how come Valjean never recognised Thénardier no matter how many times he met him?

    If you like classics and sagas, its a good holiday book. Start before you go, read it on the plane, a little by the pool and when lying on the beach, and then when you get home, there will still be more to read about these people who are your friends and family now.

  • (4/5)
    Whenever I get asked about classic book recommendations, I normally start by admitting that despite the fact that I read all the time and I have a BA in English, I am the worst literature major ever. You know those lists of the “100 Greatest Books of All Time” and you mark off the ones you’ve read? Even though I’ve read a good chunk of those books, the number of canonical works that I’ve read is pretty pathetic. (For example, I’ve only read one Dickens novel, and that was a children’s abridgement.) My history with Les Miserables is as follows: I saw the 1998 Liam Neeson movie in my HS freshman French I class; the next year I saw the stage musical and then proceeded to listen to the OLCR a couple dozen times. And then I fell out of it until the new movie came out, and on hearing about the number of details thrown in from the back, I thought, “Oh why not.”

    What did help out is that because I was familiar with the story, I was able to appreciate all of the extra detail so much more. (Same thing happened when I first read Phantom of the Opera.) Yes, I know how things were going to turn out, but it also allowed me to think “Okay, so how do we get from Point A to B exactly?” And putting the dots together made the experience more enjoyable. For example, at the end of the infamous 200-page recounting of Waterloo, when Colonel Pontmercy introduces himself to M. Thenardier, my reaction was “Holy shit that explains so much.” And even then, my thought process was completely wrong. And the backstories—again, despite knowing that everything was going to end horribly—the backstories add so much to the story. Fantine’s whole summer of love has so much more contextual weight when you find out how screwed over she got. (Fuck you, Tholomyès. Fuck you.) And Marius—I still don’t like him very much once he meets up with Cosette, but the whole background with his father and grandfather got me really sucked into his story.

    And even the long digressions weren’t that bad. Admittedly, I did tend to skim whenever Hugo decided to be very philosophical and ramble on about stuff that I’ve already gotten from the plot thanks so very much. However, the aforementioned Battle of Waterloo section and the other long descriptive passages, I really liked. The scenes at the Convent at Petite Rue Pipcus was one of my favorite parts, with the description of this absolutely rigid society and how Valjean is going to manage to infiltrate into it out. I actually also loved the “Intestines of the Leviathan” section because it’s so well-written and does add a lot to the story. And just the actual story of Jean Valjean itself is so good, I just wanted to keep reading the book.

    If there was anything else that got a boost for actually reading the book, the characters. The main set of characters I do still like, but I like that there was so much more added to them. (JAVERT SNARKS AND IT IS GLORIOUS.) This is particularly evident in the side characters, specifically LES AMIS. I love Marius’s friends, especially since we actually get to know them and not just specifically “Oh, well, you get one line.” Courfeyrac, as I have fangirled, is the best. Why must you die horribly, Courfeyrac.

    (Oh, can I tangent about the book vs. the musical for a moment? So, I had begun to assume that “Oh, so Marius finds M. Thenardier and that’s how he and Eponine are friends” while I was reading. And it turns out that Marius only talks to Eponine twice and when she’s dying he doesn’t recognize her at first. She still has a tragic death scene and the worst dying declaration of love ever, but “On My Own” just got a whole lot of new context after reading the book.)

    The only thing I really had a problem with overall was that every character keeps popping up by happenstance. I get that Hugo was playing on providence and that these characters were so entwined in each other’s lives, but it got the point that it didn’t feel like a surprise when he reveals “And it was SO-AND-SO!” It does work well at times—the last time Javert and Valjean encounter each other for example (and I felt so awful because I knew Javert was going to commit suicide and I didn’t want him to do it) – but most of the time, I was thinking, “Oh you. You’re not dead yet. Carry on.”

    This being the Kindle translation, I don’t think it was too bad, although there were places that seemed really choppy. It also seemed like the translator couldn’t decide what exactly should be translated in text as opposed to linking a footnote (I don’t remember half of my French so that didn’t help). Also, it took me halfway through the book to realize that the insistence of “thou” vs. “you” was supposed to be “vous” vs. “du.” Again, I don’t know if that was me or the choppy translation.

    My big argument for the classics (which I’ve amended from my Brit Lit professors) is that once you take off these books off the Grand Literary Pedestal and take the books as books and bugger to the thematic elements, they’re really good. Before I actually sat down and read Les Miserables, all I knew about the book was “TWO HUNDRED PAGES OF NOTHING HAPPENING.” I WAS WRONG. I really liked the book, even with all of the info-dumping and contrived coincidences. And if you think that you can just go see the musical without reading the book at all, you are sorely missing out.
  • (5/5)
    Les Mis is, to me, the best book I've ever read. It's full of the very best, and worst, of humanity. I can think of no other book that shows the whole range of mankind. The length may be a put off to some, but anyone who perseveres will be well rewarded and emerge better for having read this.
  • (5/5)
    Dark pasts. Hopeful futures. Love. War. Miserable people with glorious characters. WOW!!!!!!This book is by far my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE BOOK EVERRRR!!!!!!!It has all the ingredients for a perfect story. It has a lot of adventure, good vs. evil, crime, repentance, romance and ... the writing! It is sooooo AMAZING!!! Victor Hugo never fails in giving you the complete package! He really digs into detail about everything! Never thought I'd know so much about the Nepolianic Wars and ... The sewers of Paris. Okay, maybe that is not quite so pleasant, but the detail is what one always expects from Hugo; it's just the way he is.The characters are all soooo loveable! (EXCEPT the Thenardiers!!!) Jean Valjean is the greatest hero ever! Fatine's innocence in spite of her fall is beautiful! And Marius, although he's sort of the stereotype lover-boy, is also a great young man you just cannot help but love. Cosette is adorable when a child and so well portrayed when she grows up; she is portrayed with faults that seem to give her a more beautiful sketch of character. And of course Javert is one of my favorite villains of all time since he's that weird kind of villain who is sort of good, yet bad in the way that he is .... too good, as in too perfect to the point he SPOILER ALERT ***kills himself after he fails in his duty*** END OF SPOILER. Sorry. Also, Gavrouche is just the wildest, suaciest, and utterly filthy little raggamuffin that you simply have to love!!! When I learned who his parents were and what they (or rather his mother!) had done to him, I wanted to reach into the book and grab them (especially her) by the neck!!! Ugh! Disgusting people! Speaking of whom... The Thenardiers are abhorable, deplorable, disgusting, revolting, utterly malicious, and supercalifragilisticespialidocious in alll manners of evil!!! I can say with certain confidence that I HATE them! Well, not the entire family of course. I refer only to the Monsieur and Madame Thenardier. Most definately not their AMAZING daughter, Eponine. Eponine is a character that has added something wonderful to my life. No, I'm not being dramatic. I truly think she is a wonderful herione. In her filth I saw beauty; in her bad manners I saw poetry; in her sacrifice I saw a martyr. She was GREAT!!!! I sobbed and sobbed almost everytime they mentioned her after what happened at the barricades! She is my favorite character of the entire novel. All in all, they book is a GREAT read!!! I recommend it to EVERYONE!!! Perhaps there are those who believe the long passages of tedious details are boring, yet you simply cannot have Les Mis without all those rambling facts. It is how it is. Take it or leave it. But if you leave it, your missing out on something AWESOME!!! LIFE-CHANGING!
  • (3/5)
    Victor Hugo must have been getting paid by the word cos this book was wayyyy to long. He went well overboard on descriptive crap that added nothing to the storyline. The only good thing about the book was that it filled in some of the blanks of the movie. It just reinforces my idea that the French speak too much and say very little.
  • (3/5)
    At the heart of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo lies an endearing, larger-than-life tale about the redemption of a fallen man, but good luck soldiering through everything else. The main story, the one directly related to our protagonist, Jean Valjean, by way of characters Fantine, Javert, Cosette or Marius, is buried deep under the biggest heap of literary filler I have ever encountered in a book. I'm talking hundreds of pages of backstory for minor characters, places, military battles and cultural commentary. Hundreds. Of pages. Overall, Les Mis is very readable and elegant. It's like listening to a beloved professor's lecturing voice, never mind the content. Still, I'm not sure what to call all this unnecessary padding. Expositional stalling?
  • (4/5)
    This version of Les Misérables is far plainer in content matter, but the plot and characters of this book are deeply involved and intertwined. Plainer in content is by no means a bad thing. In fact, by scrapping some of the distracting political and historical references that were originally printed to just get down to main plot was a smart move. My main complaint with the organization of this book is how jumpy the chapters seemed. One would follow one character’s vantage point, then the next would overlap storylines from another character’s view, then the next would take place years ahead but still relevant. The constant change in vantage point as well as time in space can make it difficult to follow, but not so much that it detracts from the plot. The word choice and sentence structure the author chose also add to its plainness. Although just because it used plain language and was a fast-paced book did not mean it lacked in an incredibly thick plot, deep characters, or heart-wrenching twists and turns. This book deals with the struggle of good and evil, love and loss, and everything in between. I highly recommend this book to any and every one. I give this book four out of five stars. I cannot imagine a reader setting this book down and not taking something away from it.Hannah M.
  • (4/5)
    In this epic tale of 19th century France, Jean Valjean is an ex-convict mercilessly hunted by the police inspector, Javert. Over the course of nearly twenty years, Valjean continuously attempts to better himself and move beyond his past and in the course of his journey touches the lives of several individuals enveloped in the vicissitudes of poverty.A hefty tome, Victor Hugo's novel is rightfully a classic. His exploration of the character of Jean Valjean and the individuals who surround him is a fascinating read. France in the early 19th century is brilliantly evoked and Hugo is highly capable of writing beautiful prose and a riveting narrative. And some of his asides on society and humanity are an intriguing reflection of the conflict between the ideals of Romanticism and the influx of realism and humanism that emerged during the Industrial Revolution. That being said, the novel does have a few weaknesses. First, is the female characters whose moments of superficiality and stupidity, with Hugo rhapsodizing on the innocence and childlike nature of women, is enough to make you long for a Dickensian heroine. The other major flaw for a modern reader are the regular tangents that break up the flow of the narrative. An in-depth description of the battle of Waterloo and a brief history of the Paris sewers are significant offenders I could have done without. But these two flaws aside, which are signs of the novel's age, Les Misérables is a classic that should be experienced at least once.
  • (5/5)
    This book is a challenge to get through, even in audiobook form. I had a basic familiarity with the story of Les Misérables from the musical of the same name.The depth of Jean Valjean's character and circumstances is so much greater than could ever be remotely given justice by the movie or any musical representation.I would recommend this for anyone who is in love with the story as presented by the musical. The original version of the story has a completely different dimension than any 2-3 hour production can present.The unabridged format is a bit unwieldy, but provides some measure of context, considering how far displaced we are from the original setting of the story.
  • (4/5)
    The author of the introduction I read in my edition of Les Miserables, Peter Washington, didn't seem to much admire the book or the author. He compared it unfavorably to Tolstoy's War and Peace and claimed that "Les Miserables rambles, there are huge digressions and absurdities of plot, the characters are often thin, the action melodramatic." I found that amusing because having recently read War and Peace I thought all that very much applied to Tolstoy's novel, and in more annoying ways that in Les Miserables. Maybe it's that I found Tolstoy's frequent digressions on the hive nature of history rather one-note. If Hugo digresses, at least it's on different subjects. Though yes, the narrative is even more long-winded than you'd expect from 19th Century Western literature. Hugo's one of those authors who won't use one adjective when he can pile up a dozen in one sentence. When Hugo defends using argot, the lingo of thieves, he makes a good point that professions like stockbrokers have an argot of their own, but not satisfied with this example, he goes on and on for an entire page where a brief sentence would have sufficed. Were you one of those people who complained about Ayn Rand's long speechifying in her novels? Well, she was an admirer of Hugo, and I suspect this is where she got the habit from. I would have happily taken a hatchet to the chapters on the rules of the Bernardine-Benedictines and there's really no excuse for spending that much wordage on the sewers of Paris. But with many of the digressions, even when I was impatient to get back to the mainline of the story, I found many of them worth reading. Skip the chapter "The Tail" in Melville's Moby Dick, and I don't think you'd miss much unless you find the anatomy of whales fascinating. Skip the second epilogue of Tolstoy's War and Peace in my opinion you miss only crank theorizing. But within a lot of those digressions in Les Miserables are insights into the spirit of the 19th century. Besides, I also rather prefer Hugo's characters to those of Tolstoy. Jean Valjean has the kind of largeness of character lacking in the cast of Tolstoy's historical novel to carry an epic. When Valjean first appears in the novel on page 66, he's been a galley slave for 19 years--initially sentenced because he stole a loaf of bread. Six years later he's a wealthy entrepreneur that lifted his town to prosperity and became its mayor, and likely would have continued to prosper were it not for Inspector Javert. And if Valjean is a hero worthy of an epic, than Javert makes a worthy villain, almost a force of nature, and interesting because he's above all motivated by devotion to the law. And for a full-on black villains, you can't do much better than Pere and Mere Thénardier. There are also vividly drawn secondary characters such as their children Gavroche and Eponine. (Even if I do agree with Jean Valjean that Marius, his adopted daughter's love interest, is a "booby." A good match for the ninny that is Cosette.) Yes, there are coincidences that stretch credibility and larger-than-life characters and melodramatic rhetorical flourishes. And at times Hugo's chauvinism, his aggrandizement of his nation--much more evident than in Tolstoy or Dickens or Hawthorne--raised an eyebrow. And I certainly don't share Hugo's enthusiasm for revolution, riots ("emeutes") and mobs and I'm to put it mildly, dubious about Hugo's vision of "Progress." I wondered at times, just how much of the melody, the poetry of the writing I missed reading the Wilbour translation. Some claim that if you don't like Hugo, it might be Wilbour's fault. But I certainly found this mammoth epic more interesting than the equally lengthy War and Peace and clumsy translation or not, one with many beautiful and quotable passages.
  • (5/5)
    I have just finnished reading this and i have to say that out of all the classics I've read this is right up there with the best.To be honest, just to look at the door-stopper of a book is rather daunting, but once I got over the physical size of it, Les Miserables was immensely enjoyable.Despite the length I found it to be a real page-turner. The story is exciting and filled with characters that you can emotionally invest in and the length only helps to enhance this. The only part I found hard going was the retelling of the battle of Waterloo which was, perhaps, one detail too far. Many have critisized Hugo's diversions and the over emphasis on his own opinions and digressions but personally I found them mostly to be both a charming quirk as well as an essential componant towards the overall impact of the story by enabling me to imagine the context of the setting in the novel. After all a novel of such epic proportions deserves to have an epic span of topics, context and thought provoking content. Les Miserables is crammed with broad ranging subjects such as philiosophy, ethics, economy, history, religion, love of all kinds, politics, relationships, and all this is vocalised via the beautiful prose that enabled me to completely immerse myself in that world.Above all the one thing that will remain with me from reading Les miserables is the characters. Wonderfully drawn and each memorable in their own way, I was constantly on edge, anticipating how their individual stories would play out.Hugo's tale is gripping, emotional, and above all intensely human and therefore something, I think, everyone can relate to.
  • (3/5)
    Um Cosette + Marius are annoying/boring. Javert and Valjean are interesting. The many chapters of history and background got on my nerves and weren’t good reads. The plot got meh later, esp given the over-focus on boring romance. A good adaptation could actually be better than the book. Though there aren’t especially strong female roles.
  • (5/5)
    Les Miserables has everything. With the multiple plot lines and characters that everyone can relate to this book really appeals to everyone. It took me a LONG time to read this book, but it was worth every minute!
  • (5/5)
    Les Miserables was a wonderful novel. The novel seemed to me to become a full circle in the end from when Jean Valjean was a convict to being a beloved hero who granted the love of his life, his daughter, what she previously had only shown him-love. It was a very passionate, real life story that touched millions including myself.
  • (5/5)
    I finished much faster than I anticipated but I just couldn’t put it down. The last book had a lot of action as the students of Paris built a barricade and revolted. Our boy, Marius, finds himself in the middle of the fray which is not going in their favor. Jean Valjean arrives and helps him out a bit and manages to help out a few other citizens while he’s there because, well, that’s just the way he rolls. While trying to help Marius, Jean Valjean has a long coming chit chat with the pesky Javert and attempt to work out some of their issues. All the while Cosette sits by and waits.The book ends well for some and not so well for others which is about all I’m going to say. I loved it and will probably end up re-reading a few times. However I’ve been reading in e-book format on my laptop, which is less than pleasant and I won’t be doing that again. This is definitely a book I want to own so I’ll be going out and buying a REAL copy (I really dislike the term ‘dead tree book’ it’s so negative). I also think I’ll go for the abridged version and do without Hugo’s rambling. I don’t need the history lesson on France every time I want to read it. I would suggest to anyone thinking about giving it a read to just go for it. The first few chapters seem a little slow but it’s totally worth it to stick it out. At least I thought so.I did finally watch the movie last night after I finished and it was pretty good. They took liberties, changed things and left stuff out but I guess that’s to be expected. I hate when people say “I don’t need to read the book, I can just watch the movie”. Even the best movie adaptation is just a portion of the whole story. Sometimes it’s barely a glimpse of the goodness that lies within the book. I love movies as much as the next person but it’s good to go straight to the source. Movies are an enhancement, not a replacement for reading.
  • (4/5)
    Victor Hugo's editors wanted to remove copious amounts of text. I agree with them, but I won't recommend buying an abridged version, for what *I* think should go out is not necessarily what the translators took out. Read this book and skip the extraneous details; Hugo took scenic detours often throughout this work. That out of the way, this book was stunning, beautiful, and ultimately uplifting, a "take that!" on behalf of the human spirit. Jean Valjean's battle to let the angel on his shoulder get the better of the demon on the other shoulder (metaphorically; nothing so crass appears in the book) provides the pivots on which the story turns. This is a book meant to be re-read; I believe it will say something new with each reading, especially as the stages of your life change.
  • (3/5)
    This was a good story, but I made the mistake of reading the unabridged version, which contans endless tedious textbooky sections on French history, occupying easily as much space as the plot. There were good sections which may well have been cut from the abridged version, such as the 'sewage' chapter - an amusing eye-opener, and a chilling account of death by sinking sand. Otherwise it was a bit of a drag.I did shed a tear at the end, but there was relief, too, at having reached the end of this doorstopper.
  • (5/5)
    Well this is nothing but the French War and Peace, is what this is. And if it doesn't quite plumb the psychological depths of the human individual like Tolstoy's work does, it contains more, far more, of the real, common human life that we share. "Man is a depth still more profound than the people", says Jean Valjean, but that good old man is wrong, and this book is 1463 pages of passionate refutation.
  • (5/5)
    This book is an undeniable masterpiece. The sheer scope of the novel is praise-worthy. Then you add on fascinating characters, the complicated plot, which weaves countless lives together, the detailed history of France and so much more and it blows you away. The basic plot (there's no way to briefly sum up the whole thing) follows a convict named Jean Valjean. He was imprisoned for stealing bread and now, years later, he tries to make a life for himself in 19th century France. The plot is complex and the characters are intricately connected in unexpected ways. I loved the Bishop at the very beginning of the story. His gentle heart and merciful choices make him unforgettable even though he is only in a brief section of the book. The police chief Javert is a villain of sorts. He is so focused on living by the letter of the law that he misses the point of true justice. Hugo writes dozens of pages of French history in between actions scenes. By the time I made it through his wandering sidetracked thought I'd sometimes forget where we'd left the major characters. I just wish that Hugo had had a better editor. It's not even that the history lessons weren't interesting, it's just that they hindered the flow of the book (at more than 1,400 pages, it doesn't need to be hindered). Apparently Hugo told his editor that he wasn't allowed to remove anything from the book. ANYTHING. Not a single line. Now this obviously shows Hugo's passion for his work and his desire to maintain the integrity of his original vision, but there are editors for a reason. Sometimes authors aren't the best judge of what might improve their book after its been completed. I loved the story. It's such an inspiring tale of redemption and sacrifice. There are so many beautiful lines in the novel that are a testament to Hugo's talent. "One can no more prevent the mind from returning to an idea than the sea from returning to a shore. In the case of the sailor, this is called a tide; in the case of the guilty, it is called remorse." Over all I really enjoyed it. I was able to sink completely into the time period because of the books length and details. I do believe that trimming a few of the historical parts would have sharpened the focus on the plot, but that's just my opinion. I'm so glad I read it. It is one of those books that provide such a rich experience. It's not one I'll read every year or something, but it's a story that will stay in my soul for decades to come.
  • (5/5)
    "Les Miserables" by Victor HugoMy thoughts and comments:I finished "Les Miserables" as part of the Le Salon group read yesterday morning and, (attempting to keep it spoiler free), yes, this is indeed a book that I loved and will read again over the years. Hugo has a way about writing that almost made me feel like he was attempting to lure my head from the story at times, but if so, he sadly failed. He tends to do what my mum calls "going off on a tangent". He gets caught up in a netherwind and is off and running with it for a while but then here he brings it back to the story line and yes, it usually had some little/big something to do with one or the other of the characters, including Paris.By the way, this is the best book with Paris as the backdrop that I have ever read.So I really liked it; I cared very much about most of the characters. I think that the only character I actually detested was Thenardier. I liked how Hugo built his characters so they were multifacted and layered and not just one dimensional. And he took the time to do it, which not all authors do; sometimes all parts of a character are described at once. But not here. Here, we actually got to see the growth (to the bad or the good) of the characters.Thank you Le Salon, for organizing this read. For me, it was a reading experience of a lifetime for me. I highly recommend Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables".
  • (3/5)
    Les Miserables is generally recognized as a ground-breaking work of fiction, a masterful and epic tale of social condemnation and individual redemption that serves as a foundation work in Western Culture. And, indeed, Les Mis itself has become a cottage industry, with its poor, miserable characters now gracing Broadway theatres, Loews cinemas and home theatre systems around the world. After reading Les Mis, I am convinced that it is indeed one of the most deservedly influential works in Western Literature. Hugo’s deep thoughts on the French revolution and its children have long challenged the imagination of middle school Parisians and untutored heartlanders struggling to follow a broadway score. His influence continues to be felt through stories that interweave historical fact and individual psychological turmoil, including such epic sagas as the Thorn Birds and the Forsyte Saga. Hugo simultaneously gives us insight into the society and culture, much as a good article in Newsweek might, and the kind of deep understanding of individual pathos I remember having upon first reading Freud when I was 15. It is a powerful combination. While other great works, works like Moby Dick or Paradise Lost, challenge the reader, assume some reasonable level of knowledge and intelligence, and urge the reader to stretch their world view, Hugo has the wisdom to write for the less literary, indeed, we might even say, less literate, and meticulously clarifies everything that has already been made clear, and then repeats it again, helping us to understand even the most trivial points in great detail. Indeed, one of the beauties of this book is that if you miss something the first time, you will likely be able to catch it the fourth time, and thus need not read too closely. It is as if Hugo has anticipated the entire genre of the modern daytime serial drama.In sum, Les Mis was everything I thought it would be, and deserves to be recognized as the groundbreaking, influential work it is, a work fully worthy of television serialization. Indeed, after completing it, I thought, "Wow! Now that's almost as good as the Epic of the Wheat!" High praise, indeed.
  • (2/5)
    Okay, I'll just put it out there - I didn't like Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. When I finished it this afternoon, I cheered - I was so very glad it was over. I found the whole thing to be mawkishly sentimental and utterly predictable. The characters contained virtually no shades of gray, and the narrator's continual need to digress - and digress - and digress - drove me bonkers.Here's the thing. The story itself could have probably been told in 300 pages or less. The other 1,162 pages were filled with the narrator's (Hugo's?) opinions about everything from the uselessness of convents, the history of riots in Paris, the greatness of the French people in general, the sanctity and purity of women and children, and even the worth of human excrement flowing through Paris's sewers. It seems as if Hugo decided that Les Miserables was his opportunity to discuss every fleeting idea or thought he'd ever had. In detail. With lots of name dropping. It drove this reader crazy.And the story itself. I expected a little more in a "classic." I don't know about anyone else, but I found myself predicting the outcome of almost every scene. And it was so cloying, so maudlin - a paragon of 19th century melodrama at its worst.So why am I giving Les Miserables 1.5 stars rather than one or even a half a star? 1. There were times when Hugo made me laugh. 2. Gavroche was a great character, finely drawn. 3. Because I read every one of its 1,463 pages.
  • (3/5)
    I have never read the book but I did paticipate in a musical about it and I highly recamend that you either read the book or the musical.
  • (5/5)
    I've just finished reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I read it once before, sometime between 18 and 20. I was absorbed in Jean Valjean's story from beginning to end, as well as in the stories of more minor characters, and perhaps half of the long digressions about economics, politics, the sewers of Paris, etc. ---Spoiler alert, although I don't really think the enjoyment of the book is based on not knowing the plot ---But, I find that I have to begin near the end, because I ended up feelings the books strongest effects there when Jean Valjean reveals to Marius, now Cosette's husband, that he had been in the galley. It was apparent earlier on that Valjean saw Cosette's love for someone else as the end of his relationship with him, and I was puzzled by this, and I didn't see why he needed to tell Marius. Jean Valjean's reasoning was that he didn't want someone unwillingly to be associated with someone like him if they didn't want to, and he didn't want to live a lie. But, at the same time I was emotionally struck by his sense of shame about what seemed so trivial, having stolen a loaf of bread, and doing it to feed his sister's children. For this he felt so low as to be below the lowest in society. It didn't seem to matter that he had also created a business that benefited a town, saved several lives, given to the poor, still he needed to shrink and hide. Perhaps I felt this more strongly because I currently have a friend in jail on a serious charge. Maybe it is just knowing all the ways throughout history in which people have been made to feel unworthy, untouchable for things which now make no sense to us, and, at the same time it continues for reasons that are similarly senseless. The other parts of the book that seem amazing to me are psychic struggles that occur within Jean Valjean - first when he has stolen the Bishops silver plates, and, on being brought back by the police, the bishop has said that he gave them to Valjean, and then brings out his candlesticks as well, telling Jean Valjean that he had forgotten them. Valjean has been hardened by his experience of 19 years in the galleys for stealing bread and then trying to escape, and the battle is whether to hold on to his bitterness or to allow himself to feel goodness. The next struggle is after he has established himself in a town, creating an enterprise which has enriched him as well as the town. But another man has been falsely identified as him and is about to be sent to the galleys for life for stealing apples, and another offense which Valjean had committed shortly after his release. So he struggles over whether he needs to turn himself in. In all these times his struggles were wrenching to me. These are common struggles - the process of change from a habitual way of feeling to one that allows more of life inside; the desire to shrink into the shadows. While some of his characters may be exagerated, perhaps Javert is in his dogged, unquestioning respect for authority, law and the upper class, the depiction of what Valjean struggles with in his own mind seems extremely realistic to me. in the Le Salon Litteraire du Peuple pour le Peuple which is currently discussing the book, there are some comments about the depiction of women in a stereotyped way, even though most of this is done in what seem to be favorable statements about women, such as "One of the generosities of women is to yield." To me it makes no difference or little difference whether the stereotyped statements are positive or negative - it is always negative to impose a view that denies a person their full humanity and Hugo, to my eye, is definitely guilty of that. Toward the end I was beginning to feel that it was turning into a happily ever after story, with Cosette, who'd been an interesting enough kids, turning into this woman ready to submerge herself in her husband, and leave the room when he and her father had important things to discuss. Sure that was the view of the time, but then we appreciate Hugo for the ways in which he was able to see beyond his time, not for the ways he was limited by it.There was a lot too that was good about the depiction of the relationship between Marius and his grandfather, and his grandfather's treatment of Marius's father, though that got glossed over in the end. As I read the book I was amazed at times by just how much Hugo seemed to know about conditions and events around the world. I don't know exactly when Marx's ideas became popular, but, Hugo discussed economic ideas that were similar and the problems of creating and distributing wealth. He seemed very familiar with political events in the United States, and elsewhere. I don't know about other writers who wrote about the difficulties of poverty at that time. Dickens was about that time. E.Nesbitt and Frances Burnett were writers of children's books who wrote about poverty in England perhaps 50 years later. If I compare him to Dickens he seems to me both more realistic and not so confused about class. Thinking of Oliver Twist one difference is that Oliver who had the audacity to ask for more never does actually steal - and he turns out to be of gentile birth. While bringing attention to the misery of the poor he's depicted as being able to rise above it, seemingly as a characteristic of his class. Hugo's depiction of poverty is a bit less of a fairy tale. Fantine does sleep with someone without marrying, so she has some responsibility for her fate, unlike Oliver, but she is is not villified for that, or depicted as a person of bad character. Jean Valjean really did steal the bread, and having done that, and suffered out of proportion for it, acquires a character that includes some hardening against the world. I don't really have a summary for this discussion, except all in all it seems like a big and compassionate work. I liked it when I first read it and I still do.
  • (2/5)
    So I started this book in Provo and then read most of it throughout Europe, finishing it on our third floor bedroom in Geneva, Switzerland. It was strange to be reading the unabridged English translation of Hugo's novel in a part of the world where everyone spoke French, but I tried a bit of the French and was completely blown out of the water, my language being wildly insufficient. It's a sprawling, moving opus epic devoted to the divine in man and the possibility of love, redemption, and revolutionary goodness. I would say it is an example of committed art, and while at times it is tedious and laborious, it is on the whole magnificent.
  • (5/5)
    An absolutely and astoundingly amazing book, Victor Hugo paints a detailed masterpiece that encourages actual thought. It is impossible to relate the whole story - a simple attempt would take hours. All in all, it's about one person's desperate, miraculous life and all who touch or effect this gem. Read it every waking minute of every day.
  • (5/5)
    Great book, much better than any film version I've seen. A large book, started it in August, lyrical, descriptive and spiritual a book to read for anyone who wants to know the depth and breadth of love and grace.
  • (1/5)
    God, this book is depressing.
  • (4/5)
    The poor are with us always. And this book about the poor remains with the reader in more than one way. First, it is so long that reading it will seem like living a lifetime. Second, it's a profound story that will likely remain in the reader's memory forever. It is a book that explores the human condition from the bottom up. WARNING: LONG REVIEW FOLLOWS: (My more personal motives for listening to the book are covered in the second half of the review.)Early in the book, the story's protagonist named Jean Valjean, experiences an incredible act of kindness at the hands of a saintly rural catholic bishop. Jean Valjean up to that point in his life had every reason to hate life and everything in it. The encounter with the bishop becomes a life-changing event for Jean Valjean. It's an incredible story of redemption and conversion. Moreover, this is a story written by an author who is not overtly religious. In fact, later in the book Hugo provides commentary about catholic monastic life that is not very flattering.There is a reoccurring motif in the book of a martyr sacrificing himself for the greater good. Early in the book the rural bishop gives away his personal wealth to help the poor. Thus the rural bishop is the Christ figure and Jean Valjean is the Apostle Paul figure. The bishop changes lives by living a life of love. In response to his encounter with the bishop, Jean Valjean lives a changed life by helping others. As the story continues, Jean Valjean becomes an alternative version of the Christ figure. The narrative includes a later scene with obvious parallels to the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jean Valjean suffers through a night of anguish deciding whether to save a falsely accused man by revealing his own true identity. Taking this action will cause Jean Valjean to sacrifice his own freedom for that of another person. The motif of martyr for the greater good appears again later when the insurrectionists believe they are dying for the greater good by fighting for liberty, equality, and fraternity. From the perspective of 176 years later, the cause of the insurrectionists appears naively stupid, so I don't credit a Christ figure among the combatants. However, Jean Valjean shows up on the scene and again risks his life to save others. I count four lives that he saved during the insurrection. Two of the lives saved are obvious. I challenge readers to figure out who the third and fourth ones were.During the battle scene, Inspector Javert is the recipient of an act of incredible kindness at the hands of Jean Valjean, whom he considers to be his enemy. When Javert reflects on the experience, he senses the call to become a changed person. This is an echo of Jean Valjean’s life changing experience early in the book. Javert concludes that he is unable to live with the call.The rescue journey through the sewers in general, and the encounter with quick sand in particular, is reminiscent of Dante's Divine Comedy. It’s a tale of passage from Inferno (battle scene), through the trials of Purgatorio (sewers), to Paradiso (life and the marriage of his daughter). The scene where Jean Valjean slowly sinks into the quick sand is as ghastly as anything is from Dante's Inferno. Those of you who are familiar with 19th Century literature know that their death scenes are always dramatic. They sure knew how to die in those days. Well, this book doesn't disappoint in that regard. It ends with a death scene that stretches out like the rest of the book.The length of the unabridged version of the book is hard for a typical 21st Century reader to endure. There are many abridged versions available, but the abridged versions leave out Victor Hugo's pontifications about social and political conditions in 19th Century France. In addition, when Hugo develops a character in his story he writes a book length description. The same goes for descriptions of environmental surroundings. For example, Hugo includes a long and detailed description of the Battle of Waterloo to explain how two characters in the story met years prior to the current story being described. A modern editor would probably have cut some 30 pages from the Battle of Waterloo. However, the description of the battle is well done, and it alone is sufficient reason to read the book. In general, I believe the book is worth reading for the hardcore literature buff. For other more normal people it's too long, too 19th Century and too French.Victor Hugo partly based this book on the real life story of Eugène François Vidocq. In the fictionalized Les Miserables, the Vidocq character is divided between Jean Valjean and his nemesis, Inspector Javert. Some parts of the book follow historical records, so the book may be considered a historical novel of sorts.MY MOTIVES FOR LISTENING TO THE BOOK:I became interested in the book after the East Hill Singers (of which I'm a volunteer) sang the song, Bring Him Home which comes from the musical, Les Miserables. It is a song of strong emotion than can apply to any family with a child in harms way. I wanted to learn more about the story behind the song. My preliminary research indicated that the song didn't fit well with the story as told in the book. The song was obviously written for the musical where Jean Valjean is praying to God during the night before battle to spare the life of Marius, his daughter's beau. Some critics believe that the song doesn't fit the book narrative because in the book Jean Valjean doesn't care much for his daughter's friend.I argue to the contrary. I believe that the song fits with the book in an even more profound way than in the Musical. In the book the song best conveys the thoughts of Jean Valjean's following the battle while he his carrying the injured Marius to safety through the sewers of Paris. He's doing it not because he likes Marius, but because he loves his daughter. He proceeds to risk his life and expend all his strength to overcome numerous obstacles to save the life of someone he hardly knows. This in spite of the fact that he knows if he succeeds in saving Marius it will likely lead to his daughter leaving to be with Marius.In the context of the preceding story, this is an act of sacrificial love. Valjean is a man who has suffered through a life with many losses. In addition, many of the losses he suffered were caused of his honesty and integrity. The nurturing of his adopted daughter was an important part of his life that gave him a reason to live. Now he's an old man, and by acting in a principled humane way he is bringing loss upon himself once again. I think Valjean suffers more than necessary toward the end of the book. As is often the case, if all the characters in the story communicated honestly with each other in the way they should, the story wouldn't be nearly so dramatic. I listened to an unabridged audio version downloaded from Audible.com originally recorded by Blackstone Audio.