Re-Reading Les Misérables

Thoughts and commentary on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece.

Let’s meet Marius! Haha just kidding, here’s a street urchin first

A funny thing about Les Misérables: the first three parts are named after major characters, but they take forever to show up.

Part 1: Fantine takes 100 pages to get to her. Part 2: Cosette starts with 45 pages on Waterloo. Part 3: Marius picks up with Gavroche, then Marius’ grandfather.

It’s weird to see “gamin” rather than “urchin,” but it does convey a different sense – more childlike innocence.

Either way, we’re still talking about homeless kids.

Still on Paris urchin culture: “Attending executions counts as a duty.” I’m reminded of the opening lines of Pillars of the Earth: “The small boys came early to the hanging.” Different century, same macabre fascination.

Hugo really pours on his Paris-is-the-best-of-everything attitude in this chapter. Paris gamins are the only ones who aren’t doomed, Paris is the world in microcosm, “Paris is the greatest achievement of the human race.”

Posted in Book Commentary by Kelson Vibber, April 10, 2018

Tagged: gavroche · paris