Tag Archives: volume 1

Read Along: Les Misérables -Volume 1: Fantine

**SPOILERS ALERT**     **SPOILERS ALERT**     **SPOILERS ALERT**

I am surprisingly enjoying my read the past week.  Surprising because the first couple of times I’ve picked this up, I’ve never got beyond the Bishop.  I think maybe the glass of wine / honeymead I consumed each reading session helped?  I don’t normally drink and I can safely say, that I’ve probably drank more the past week than I have last year… LOL.  As I was saying to hubby, ‘It’s set in France… France – Wine, am I reaching a bit far, do you think?’

In my ‘Introduction’, Lee Fahnestock commented that ‘Hugo conceived of the book as the story of a saint, a man, a woman, and a little girl.’

What do you think of Bishop Myriel?  He’s definitely described as being truly saintly; I’m wondering if there’s any pessimistic reader out there?

He would talk like that, gravely and paternally, inventing parables when he lacked examples, going straight to the point with a few phrases and a lot of images, with the very eloquence of Christ, convincing and persuasive.

For me, I really do admire him and wish that I could be like him! One thing is for sure, I would probably be happier with life if I’m not so attached to many material things.  However, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t struggling with some things though – although, ‘struggle’ is probably too strong a word. We still see him ‘learning’ things at times – like finally letting go of the silvers (the last luxury items he had held onto for so long) etc.

For those of you who are reading this for the first time, was there any assumptions you have made previously from whatever source which was just incorrect?  Was there anything which surprises you from the past week’s readings?

I somehow assumed that Fantine’s lover was a sailor or something like that – who knows why… that was a wacky assumption on my part!  And he turned out to be some snooty bratty rich dude!  Who, by the by, was not impressive at all – balding with bad teeth!  Okay, so his appearance obviously wasn’t what he has going for him…

According to Wikipedia, there are some differences in the musical:

  • Rather than being fired for being an unwed mother, a fellow female worker steals her letter from the Thénardiers claiming another need for money; the worker presumes that she is a prostitute to cover her debts with the low wages. Valjean sees this, but leaves this to his foreman; the foreman, his advances having been rejected by Fantine, fires her.
  • Fantine also does not appear to be illiterate as when the foreman hands her the letter from the Thénardiers she is able to read it just as well as anyone else.
  • Fantine dies peacefully in hospital with Valjean at her side after entrusting him with Cosette; Javert never reveals Valjean’s true identity to her, as he arrives after her death.

And Javert!!  I always thought of him as truly mean!  But reading his background made me understand just how circumstances made him into such a hard man.  He is pitiable not only because of his background but that he’s not been able to preserve his humanity – the compassion for others.

What do you think of the contrast between Javert & Valjean?

Valjean did not have an easy childhood himself nor did he have an easy time as an adult being incarcerated to begin with and then ostracized for being a parolee and yet… a kindness granted him a new lease of life!  A kindness which drives him to compassions towards others.

Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.

Does this provoke a serious review on your attitude towards others?  A little kindness on our part to others (like giving up a seat on the train even!) may make that much of a difference to others.

“The Infinite exists. It is there.  If the infinite had no me, the me would be its limit; it would not be the infinite; in other words, it would not be.  But it is.  Then it has a me.  This me of the infinite is God.”

Over to you!  What has been the high point for you this week?  Any quote/s which bowled you over this week?

By the way, I am actually away for the weekend (playing camp parents at a youth camp) and I think internet connection may be patchy at best, so I’ll get back to you after the weekend!  Have a fantastic one, everybody!

I have this song in my head whilst I’m typing this post, so… does anyone remember this?

Post being edited to include links to other posts:

The Dead Authors Club

Half-Filled Attic

Love Notes in Library Books

Recipes for a Better World