What I'm Reading this Week (and for the Foreseeable Future)
Sunday, 27 October 2002
Victor Hugo's Les Miserables which (according to the blurb on my Penguin Classics copy):
with its breadth of vision and underlying truth, its moments of lyricism and compassion, is one of the great works of Western literature
It probably is all of those things - I can't tell yet. I do know that it took a little over a hundred pages for Hugo to get to the point where Jean Valjean makes off with the priest's dinner service. In the first movie version of the novel I ever saw, Michael Rennie had the silver stashed in his swag within twenty minutes of the titles - another ten minutes and a lap dissolve later he was Monsieur Le Madelaine, Mayor and pottery magnate. Now that's what I call narrative energy.
One point on which Hugo and the film are in agreement is in the character of Javert - reading Hugo's initial description of Javert's physiognomy, I said to myself "My god, this guy sounds exactly like Robert Newton!"
Anyway, until further notice, it's safe to assume that I'm ploughing my way through Hugo's masterpiece, with the occasional flick forward a few pages to reassure myself that the plot is actually going somewhere. I did a lot of flicking forward the one and only time I read Joyce's Finnegan's Wake end to end - there it was more in the vain hope of finding a more or less intelligible passage.
BTW, with so many people starting to link to this blog, it's probably time I returned the courtesy. I aim to have a blog list up in that empty decorative panel on the right of the page some time soon.