Les Miserables

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If Fantine's 'I Dreamed' from Victor Hugo's Les Miserable's has encouraged Susan Boyle to hit it high at the British's Got Talent Show, then Susan has encouraged me to write about this great story ever in English literature. Ever since I've heard Susan singing "I Dreamed" on Yahoo News I've been digging through the internet to know more about the movie and the song. For the past two days I've been watching the movie by Bille August and the theater musical by Cameron Mackintosh with the most amazing and touching lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The story is about how one man's kindness to a convict full of hatred changes him into a saint for the rest of his life. It is how some forsaken people who had no relation at all, and have met just by chance on the path of life, understand and help each other from the miseries that have had them suffered through time. It is about how loving and helping your fellow human lets you see the face of God.

The story reminded me of our very own Slumdog Millionare which also talks about crime and ill treatment of the downtrodden, more aptly slums. Les Miserables is actually a french novel by Victor Hugo and it was first translated to English by a British author. It is said that Victor Hugo has written it during his 25 years of imprisonment. So the story might be closely related to his life as well. Guess the British are always fascinated by such stories. The movie however was released sometime later in UK.

The story revolves around Jean ValJean who's released on parole after 19 years of severe imprisonment for having committed a small theft of stealing bread out of hunger. He is sent out with a yellow passport which he has to produce at any place he decides to stay or work. But naturally who would want to give shelter to a dangerous convict, so he dwells on the streets and finally comes across a Bishop's house for shelter. The Bishop of Myrial known for his kindness gives him a meal and allows him to rest for the night. But Jean who's frustrated with the cruel treatment he's received at jail decides to rob the Bishop's house and get a new life. He's caught by the police and brought back to the Bishop. The Bishop who's known for his kindness spares him and sends him away with the silverware he stole. Jean who has never witnessed such kindness in his life is touched by it and then the story goes on to showing how he himself becomes a saint and savior to a helpless woman and her daughter.

All-in-all a very intriguing, sentimental and touching story. It throws light on how the poor were treated in and around France during the early 19th century. The book was a big hit when it was first published in 1862. It was then translated into different languages and the theater musical was started in 1985. Ever since then it rocked the nation and during its 10th anniversary it was aired on UK television for everyone to watch. You can watch the entire show in parts on Youtube. A mindblowingly well written masterpiece that shouldn't be missed.

I got my hands on the book and am leaving a quote from its Preface.
"So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless. - HAUTEVILLE HOUSE, 1862."

Since it is more than 1900 pages I couldn't complete reading it yet. But the book is more detailed and covers every part of the story. The movie though was tweaked a little and just about covers the main characters. You can get more up-to-date information about the story and the concert from their website and wiki. I'm now getting back to finishing my book.

Image courtesy: http://www.ecsd.us/staff/meberhard/theatre/Les%20Miserables.htm


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10 comments:

Sathana said...

i did enjoy your story time,did you finish the book?

rads said...

Nope not yet...thanks for reading

lafemmereva said...

okay. The last week was crazy at work so I quite caught onto the susan boyle thing a bit late. I blogged about it yesterday as soon as I heard about her and then today I kinda chanced upon your site from Kaddu's!!! And I really really didn't know there was a book!! And I love you for pointing it out!!! I will get a copy of it and rape through it start to finish. And this is what I wrote on my blog about Susan Boyle. Pls do read when you find time.

http://lafemmereva.blogspot.com/2009/04/susan-boyle-all-rise.html

rads said...

Thanks for dropping by lafemmereva :) yes I'll chk your post.

XCENTRIC said...

Its an interesting read...I like it. Want to watch the movie now :)

rads said...

Thanks Teja :) Yes you should watch it, especially the theatre musical, its too good.

sammythewizzy said...

Looks like its an intense story.. Perhaps you should think of writing more book reviews here.. That way, people like me - who rarely read books - can atleast be persuaded to try to read a few which are interesting.. I'll try to get my hands on this movie now.. if possible :)

Psst.. did u complete reading the book?

rads said...

Nope Sammy...Its difficult keeping up with house chores, gym, blogging, flickering and reading books, all at once...so I'm going slow on it and its a huge book so can't be completed any time soon...

TW said...

It is a beautiful book! Enjoy reading :)

rads said...

Thanks TW :) I am.