He ends up penning a letter about all the injustice he has witnessed and taken part in before taking his own life, unable to grapple with a world much more complicated than he had let himself see. A sceptic who adheres to a believer is as simple as the law of complementary colors. There is a particular dedication to Les Amis de l’ABC (a.k.a.To read along with Javert is to experience the mental cartwheels that he does. the “barricade boys”), claimed by a new generation that can well identify with youthful disgruntlement with unjust authority.
Much later there is Cosette’s love story with Marius Pontmercy, perhaps the original hipster (Marius exiled himself from his wealthy background for the love of his father’s Bonapartist politics and lived in near-poverty as a translator, spending most of the book basically yelling “I do what I want, Baron Grandpa! Even later in the voluminous volumes a subplot is introduced concerning Marius’ friends, a group that calls themselves Les Amis de l’ABC (roughly “the friends of the people,” in a French word game such as Hugo delights in), led by the revolutionary firebrand Enjolras.
Young, idealistic, and primarily children of privilege, these students band together to try and bring down the government—an ultimately toothless and wrenching protest to the harsh conditions the poor were laboring under.
The 1980’s musical adaptation by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil became an international smash, and even non-musical folks are familiar with the show’s breakout songs like “I Dreamed A Dream” and “Do You Hear The People Sing?
” I’m a huge fan of the musical (I’m listening to it as I type this), and have been since childhood. It’s a prodigious undertaking: the book clocks in at over 650,000 words, making it one of the longest novels ever written.
Dickens could come close, but we know how he felt about violent, class-shaking revolutions—they were the worst of times.
While often confused with the earlier French Revolution, the insurgent events depicted in are the June Rebellion of 1832, a brief and failed attempt to overturn the monarchy that was harshly put down by the National Guard.
Beyond its encompassing of days gone by, is a truly human and humane story, and this is what has kept it so recognizable to so many generations.
The plight of women, the treatment of the underclasses, the cruelty of authority and the heavy hand of unjust law—these issues are, unfortunately, still universal.
In a letter to the Italian translator of the book in 1862, Hugo wrote: is written for all nations.
I do not know whether it will be read by all, but I wrote it for all.