[LMB] Les Miserables; was Barrayar was lucky, or what? now OT:

Nicholas D. Rosen ndrosen at erols.com
Mon Sep 2 05:08:34 BST 2013

Matthew George wrote:

MG> Remember, Charles Dickens was a popular magazine
MG> serialist (not a novelist as such), and it shows in his 
MG> works, none of which were originally novels and all
MG> of which have the telltale stigmata of Dickens' paid-
MG> by-the-word economic realities.  For that matter, we 
MG> can say much the same for Jules Verne, or Victor Hugo.
MG> Ever actually read *Les Miserables*?  Good Lord,
MG> that needs a competent editor.

I remember reading *Les Miserables* quite a few years ago, before
"Les Miz" became a musical sensation.  I got the book from the
local public library, and started on it.  It was an edited version,
a competently edited version, I believe, beginning pretty much
with the bishop of D- giving hospitality to Jean Valjean.  The
Introduction said that the book had been edited and abridged to
remove local history, political special pleading, etc., but leave
the basics of the story intact.

I told my father about this, and he said I should read the original
version, and borrowed it from the university library for me.  I
proceeded to read that, and enjoyed it.  It begins with an account 
of the bishop of D-, the kinds of things that he does, and so forth,
so we know the man long before Jean Valjean shows up at his

I did read the uncut version, and I think it's worth reading; yes,
there are passages which don't contribute much to the plot, and
in that sense could surely stand to be excised, but they do
contribute to the total literary experience which the series of
novels strives to produce.

Nonetheless, I can understand why Paul Valery, upon being asked
who France's greatest poet was, replied, "Victor Hugo, helas."


Nicholas D. Rosen
ndrosen at erols.com

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