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

Elin B elbju at yahoo.se
Mon Sep 2 08:44:50 BST 2013

 Nicholas D. Rosen wrote:

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

>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.

EB: Finally read the whole version in French this year and utterly loved it - mind you, I'd read an abridged Swedish translation years ago, and had tried before reading it in French but shelved it half way through because I couldn't find the edition I wanted. I loved it, wordy digressions and all. Hugo's prose is awesome and I wouldn't have wanted him to edit it away - it's a monster of a thing, but it is what it is. 

Nitpick, though: Dickens wasn't paid by the word but by installment, and he didn't actually have to do it that way after he'd gotten famous: he deliberately chose to cultivate his audience by serialising first. As for Hugo, Les Miserables wasn't serialised and Hugo was in no way paid by the word. He was a *huge* star at the time, and free to dictate a very lucrative deal with his publisher for the book. All the wordiness in his weighty tome is due entirely to his own wish to cram as much of his thoughts on Man and Society and the Infinite in it as possible.

NDR: >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.

Totally agree! For instance, once I actually found myself in the infamous sewers-system-of-Paris digression I was surprised by how well it fit into the whole theme of the story. It was right to put it there, IMO.



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