Tag Archives: Les Miserables

Wrapping up my Les Miserables Re-Read (Updated!)

It’s been a month since I finished re-reading Les Miserables, and I’m still working on finishing the commentary. I’ve been making an effort to include actual reactions, not just summary, which is one of the problems I’ve had since switching to the kindle and relying on highlights instead of writing my own notes as I go.

I’m making progress. In the past week I’ve added the following three sections covering 100 pages from 883 to 984 two weeks I’ve added the following sections covering about 200 pages. UPDATE (12/31): I’m finished!

  • A Revolting Development – Barricade day arrives, the city really does erupt (this barricade is a small part of a bigger rebellion), and Gavroche isn’t taking things seriously.
  • (From) Drinking to Revolution – Grantaire, Laigle and Joly spend the day in a tavern ignoring the revolt, so when the rest of the students show up, they figure, hey, let’s build our barricade here! Also, Javert isn’t the only infiltrator, and Marius tries to figure out the best way to die.
  • Hey Barricade, Who’s in Charge Here? The first attack and deaths. Marius arrives, guns blazing. (Who knew he could shoot?) Eponine dies. Valjean finds out that Cosette’s been seeing someone, and he’s not happy about it.
  • Barricades of Future Past (Plus Cannon Geekery) – A look at the 1948 revolt, sending fathers home who don’t want to go, geeking out over the army’s new cannon, and Valjean’s marksmanship.
  • Passing Peak Ammunition – The barricade manages to hold out, but loses Gavroche and their star prisoner.
  • Last Stand – Storming the barricade and tavern.
  • What a Wonderful Smell You’ve Discovered – Valjean carries Marius out of the war zone through the sewers.
  • Jumper – Javert doesn’t handle cognitive dissonance very well.
  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Marius comes out of his coma, and he and Cosette can finally be together. What could go wrong?
  • This is the End – The wedding is a new beginning for Marius and Cosette, but it’s the beginning of the end for Jean Valjean. Fortunately, Thenardier tries to blackmail the happy couple.

What’s left?

  • 75 pages of the barricade battle.
  • I’ve already written up the flight through the sewers and Javert’s suicide.
  • I’ve written about 75% of the last 90 pages (out of order, so I can’t just put numbers on it): Marius’ convalescence, the wedding, the blackmail attempt, Valjean’s separation from Cosette and his death.

So I’ve got about 100 pages to cover, probably in 5 chunks, and just over a week before the end of the year. I think I actually have a chance of making this goal!

Les Mis: The Home Stretch

Les Miserables Book Falling ApartLast week I finished re-reading Les Misérables. I’ve been working on this off and on for most of the year, taking breaks to read other books along the way.

I don’t feel finished yet, though, because I set myself the challenge of commenting on the whole thing as well, and I’m way behind on that. The main problem is that when I switched from carrying around the rapidly disintegrating copy of the book to reading on the tablet, I also switched from writing notes on my phone to highlighting passages in the Kindle app, with the idea that I’d write my commentary later. You can build on digital notes. With highlights, you have to do all your composition new, so my commentary started taking longer to write…and the longer it went, the less fresh those chapters were in my memory, and the more my commentary began to resemble summaries.

I did manage to write two commentaries right within days of finishing the chapters: the sewers, and Javert’s suicide. But I can’t post them until I get to that point.

Today I finished a new section of commenatry. This covers Marius and Cosette’s six weeks of secret meetings in her garden (during which Hugo is very insistent that nothing is going on), Eponine staring down hardened criminals with an awesome “You think I’m scared of you?” speech, Marius trying — and failing — to reconcile with his estranged grandfather, and what they’re all up to in the days (or in Marius’ case, the daze) before the revolt.

That brings me up to page 882 out of 1201 (not counting the appendices, which I’ve already covered). There’s about 180 pages to cover, the entire barricade sequence, before I can post the sewer commentary I’ve already written. I’m no longer certain I’ll be able to finish it all by the end of the year, but I’ve at least got a shot. Um, so to speak.

Read on for the new commentary, Over the Edge.

I Watched Three Les Mis Parodies Last Night

Jean BonbobYesterday the Les Misérables Broadway page on Facebook linked to a YouTube video of “Les Mousserables,” a Sesame Street sketch in which Cookie Monster, as Jean Bonbon, must learn to recognize other people’s feelings and share his cookies. It was…okay I suppose. It had its moments (like “One Day S’more”), and it was fun to see them take on the movie’s visuals (Snuffleupagus as the Elephant of the Bastille, for instance). Maybe my expectations were too high, or I was in the wrong mood for it. I’ve seen a number of “Elmo the Musical” bits that were quite entertaining, and I loved the “Finishing the Splat” sketch with Oscar the Grouch.

Yes, I have a toddler in the house, in case you’re wondering.

YouTube recommended “Les Miseranimals,” which has long been one of my favorites. It’s the sketch that got me to look at Animaniacs at an age when I was old enough not to be interested in afternoon cartoons (with the exception of Batman: The Animated Series), and it was quickly clear that even if the show was aimed at younger viewers, there was plenty of fun for a teenager to enjoy as well. So we all watched a grainy copy on the tablet even though the crisp DVD was sitting on a shelf across the room. It still holds up, though some of the songs work better than others. I’m not sure how I never noticed before that M. Tristesse (the restaurant owner) is basically one of John Cleese’s French caricatures from Monty Python.

I also found it sad that Rita’s song “There is a Flat in Gay Paree” is no longer shorter than “Castle on a Cloud” in the current version of the show.

From there YouTube recommended a clip from Forbidden Broadway‘s take on the show, which turned out to be someone’s recording from the audience in some production. That sort of thing bugs me, but I watched the whole thing, having discovered a few months ago that my aging audio cassette is no longer playable (and not having gotten around to replacing it). This was hit and miss, partly because a lot of the parody depends on the show being new at the time.

I suppose technically I watched four parodies, because even though we were ready to stop after 30-40 minutes of tiny videos parodying the same show, there was a link to a three-minute clip called “On My Phone.” It’s apparently from a more recent Forbidden Broadway show, and it’s brilliant.

(Cross-posted at Re-Reading Les Misérables.)

Catching Up on Les Miserables

One of the drawbacks of reading on the Kindle is that it’s harder to get that at-a-glance feedback on your progress in a book. On the other hand, a tablet’s a lot easier to carry around while traveling than The Brick (especially now that they don’t make you turn it off for takeoff anymore).

It turns out that with all the traveling this week, I read 160 pages of Les Miserables, from the point where Marius walks into the area of Paris that’s in revolt, to the point where he’s carried out (pages 943-1103). I have fewer than 100 pages left, putting me on track to finish this month! It also puts me about 260 pages ahead of my commentary, though I managed to write another installment today: This time through, I finally read the chapter on thieves’ argot, which the translator had pulled out of the main flow of the book into an appendix because it was a serious digression even by Victor Hugo’s standards.

Read on for my latest remarks…

New Les Mis Commentary: Gavroche’s Anonymous Family

As my series on re-reading Les Misérables grew, I realized it needed its own space. The pages that once held my long-defunct fan site, hyperborea.org/les-mis, seemed appropriate. I’ve moved the whole series there, along with the reviews of the show and movie, and some of my meta-commentary. With any luck it should be easier to find and navigate now.

It’s been slow going, but I’m determined to finish the book — I got through the end of Part Four (of five) last night, almost 1000 pages — and the commentary by the end of the year.

Read on for the commentary as Gavroche rescues his brothers* and his father in the same night…but no one recognizes him, and even he doesn’t even know the younger boys are his brothers.

*Yes, brothers. I thought I’d remembered all the Thenardier children, but it turns out there are five in all.