Category Archives: About

Third Time Through

I finished reading Les Misérables for the third time on Wednesday. Yes, I sought escape from reading about current events by reading about how the hero of the book ultimately succumbs to depression and self-loathing, cuts himself off from his loved ones and starves himself to death.

Six months of lunch hours as I found, time and again, that a 150-year old book set 200 years ago on another continent continues to be relevant in ways I wish it wasn’t.

I wish everyone had the time and patience to read it. I think a lot of people would gain valuable perspective from it. Or not. There are people who read or watch superheroes, and take the use of power as the lesson, not the efforts to help the powerless.

Fiction can’t prove a point about about reality, but it can make you think about it, and consider connections or perspectives that you might not have considered before. And that’s a very valuable thing.

Follow @ReadingLesMis on Twitter or @KelsonV@Wandering.Shop on Mastodon.

Claquesous: No Information Found

My spell checker suggested “claque-sous,” so I figured I’d look up the phrase. Google turned up this:

Claquesous (Les Misérables) - Archive of Our Own. No information is available for this page.

Well, there wouldn’t be, would there? 😉

He never appears during the day, always wears a mask, rarely speaks (and when he does, he disguises his voice), no one knows his real name, and he even vanishes when surrounded by police. I like to joke that he’s really Batman, though it’s later implied he’s a double agent.

For the record: search was fixing the spelling and giving me all results on the character, so I tried Google Translate, which suggested “slap-in.”

Also for the record: AO3 currently has 160 works of Les Mis fanfic tagged with Claquesous.

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Getting Back on Track

I’ve been continuing to read, and to post commentary on Twitter (and some on the Mastodon-powered Wandering Shop), but I’ve been getting way behind on the blog. So I’m going to do the following:

  1. Post the half-written backlog without much more polishing.
  2. Expand what I’ve already posted on Twitter, again without too much polishing.
  3. Start a weekly round-up based on my social media posts, grouped into related chunks.

I’ve already done the detailed commentary thing once. No sense doing it again while leaving out things I’ve already written. This way I’ll be able to keep up the blog without it becoming an albatross.

Follow @ReadingLesMis on Twitter or @KelsonV@Wandering.Shop on Mastodon.

5 Years Later: Reading a New Translation of Les Misérables!

I’ve been thinking for a while about picking up Les Misérables again, and five years after my last re-read seems like a good time to do it. This time I’m reading a different translation, Christine Donougher’s version published in 2013, a.k.a. The Wretched.

Yes, I’m reading a translation published during my last read-through.

Yes, they translated the title.

Yes, there’s probably an element of defiance here, stubbornly insisting that the world continue in such a way that it’s possible for me to read the digital equivalent of a 1300-page brick. (Reading Les Mis in 2018 is a bit different than reading it in 2013.)

I do plan on posting commentary again, here and at @ReadingLesMis – but I don’t plan on going into as much detail. More impressions than the play-by-play I wrote last time.

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Les Misérables at 30

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Les Misérables musical opening in London. I first saw the show a few years later, after it had moved to Broadway and started touring, maybe 1991 or 1992. I remember a family friend trying to describe the plot beforehand, and going into excruciating detail worthy of a Wikipedia summary.

Over the next few years I managed to catch the tour as it returned to Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego. I tracked down as many cast albums as I could back in the days when you had to go to physical record stores looking for imports. After hearing the original French version I became fascinated with how the show sounded in different languages, even those I couldn’t understand myself, and ran a fan site during college. (I learned a lot about computer character encodings, most of which has been rendered obsolete by Unicode.)

In high school I also read the novel. I remember it taking a couple of months to get through, and it gave me a new appreciation of the story and everything that didn’t make it to the stage. Somehow I never got around to watching any of the film adaptations until years later, after the 2012 movie of the musical rekindled my interest and inspired me to re-read the novel. This time it took me most of a year (with breaks for other books in between), and I wrote a running commentary. That in turn inspired me to check into the other adaptations that have been made over the years.

It’s strange to look back on an anniversary, though. When I first saw the show, it had only been around for about six or seven years in that form. Now it’s been thirty. Les Mis is as old now as The Sound of Music was when I first saw it. Time marches on, but Victor Hugo’s epic about life and injustice remains timeless.

Follow @ReadingLesMis on Twitter or @KelsonV@Wandering.Shop on Mastodon.