Yes, yes. I know. We’re now 1/3 of the way into June, and here I am just finishing up Volume 4 of Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” for a May group read. Emma at the Terror of Knowing and Liz at Travel in Retrospect, who hosted #MiserablesMay, have been nothing but understanding about the fact that I am wayyy behind. After all, finishing a 1,463-page book in just 31 days is no easy task. Fortunately, I decided to press on and am now into Volume 5, so I think I’ll just go ahead and read the whole thing!
Because soooo much happened in Volume 4 (Saint-Denis and Idyll of the Rue Plumet), and because it took me so long to read it (I started it like two weeks ago, took a break to read something else and just finished it tonight, so my memories of the beginning are pretty foggy), I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of recapping it for y’all. I’m going to be lazy these last two volumes and defer to Emma (her critical analysis of each volume just blows me out of the water) and Liz (her recaps are HILARIOUS).
I feel pretty guilty about not writing my own, but I’m so behind and I just want to finish the damn Brick before my vacation is over. I still have about 250 pages to read and I’ll be spending the next few days with my brother and his family, so we’ll see how that goes.
Thankfully I still did a lot of underlining in Volume 4 …
Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie its pleasure. To replace thought with reverie is to confound poison with nourishment.
Happy, even in anguish, is he to whom God has given a soul worthy of love and grief! He who has not seen the things of this world, and the hearts of men in this double light, has seen nothing, and knows nothing of the truth. The soul that loves and suffers is in the sublime state.
Often, thinking to knot one thread, we tie another.
Women play with their beauty as children do with their knives. They wound themselves with it.
… the first symptom of true love in a man is timidity, in a young woman, boldness. This is surprising, and yet nothing is more natural. It is the two sexes tending to unite, and each acquiring the qualities of the other.
Youth, even in its sorrows, always has a glimmer all its own.
It is the peculiarity of grief to bring out the childish side of a man.
Marius was of the temperament that sinks into grief and remains there; Cosette was the sort that plunges in and comes out again.
… by nature Cosette was not easily startled. There was in her veins the blood of the gypsy and the barefoot adventuress. It must be remembered she was more a lark than a dove. She was wild and brave at heart.
” … Rain again! Good God, if this continues, I cancel my subscription!” -Gavroche
… we are beginning to understand that, if there can be force in a boiler, there can only be power in a brain; in other words, what leads and controls the world is not locomotives but ideas. Harness the locomotives to the ideas, yes, but do not mistake the horse for the horseman.
“We go over the walls and we don’t give a damn about the government. That’s all.” -Gavroche
… if the language that a nation or province has spoken is worthy of interest, there is something still more worthy of attention and study in the language that misery has spoken.
Is the underworld of civilization, because it is deeper and gloomier, less important than the upper? Do we really know the mountain when we do not know the cavern?
If there is anything more poignant than a body agonizing for want of bread, it is a soul dying of hunger for light.
But those who do not want the future should think it over. In saying no to progress, it is not the future that they condemn, but themselves. They are giving themselves a melancholy disease; they are inoculating themselves with the past. There is only one way of refusing tomorrow, and that is to die.
“You’re adorable, mademoiselle. I study your feet with a microscope and your heart with a telescope.” -Marius (to Cosette)
A child’s misery is of concern to a mother, a young man’s misery is of concern to a young woman, an old man’s misery is of concern to nobody. Of all miseries this is the coldest.
Great perils share this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.
“You should sell all your teeth at a hundred francs apiece. That would give you five hundred francs.” -Gavroche