Sunday, 17 August 2014

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

In 1815, M. Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of D—— He was an old man of about seventy-five years of age; he had occupied the see of D—— since 1806.

Very much a 'once upon a time' type beginning by easing the reader in idyllically with back story moving at a snail's pace. Next sentence and second paragraph:

Although this detail has no connection whatever with the real substance of what we are about to relate, it will not be superfluous, if merely for the sake of exactness in all points, to mention here the various rumors and remarks which had been in circulation about him from the very moment when he arrived in the diocese.

When an author comments on his opening line, you know this is going to be long; no wonder Les Miserable is a million pages long. So if you got a couple months to kill, this might be the book for you. Next sentence:

True or false, that which is said of men often occupies as important a place in their lives, and above all in their destinies, as that which they do. 

Then we get some lecturing. I don't like when author's lecture their readers, but starting so soon in a novel is ominous. Then a huge back story dump

First thing said:

"Who is this good man who is staring at me?"

This is part of the series: the top 100 novels from Daniel S. Burt's book called Novel 100, the top 100 novels of all time. There is debate of course as to what should be on that list, but his opinions are as good as any. Les Miserables comes in at the 90th greatest novel of all time.

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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