The tragic barricades so dramatically shown in the musical and in the book’s pages sprung up around the Paris that Victor Hugo witnessed first-hand.
[…] All those words: rights of the people, rights of man, the social contract, the French Revolution, the Republic, democracy, humanity, civilization, religion, progress, came very near to signifying nothing whatever to Grantaire. Scepticism, that caries of the intelligence, had not left him a single whole idea. This was his axiom: “There is but one certainty, my full glass.” […] However, this sceptic had one fanaticism. A frequent criticism of the book is the long and sometimes arduous asides that Hugo writes—dozens of pages on the history of Battle of Waterloo to set up a single scene concerning Waterloo, say, or the infamous diatribe on the origin of the Parisian sewer system.
This fanaticism was neither a dogma, nor an idea, nor an art, nor a science; it was a man: Enjolras. To whom did this anarchical scoffer unite himself in this phalanx of absolute minds? But you have the option to skip these passages, or else embark with Hugo throughout the twisty passages of the past.
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.
Because of the ubiquitousness of the musical and movie adaptations (most recently Tom Hooper’s 2012 film, which won Anne Hathaway an Oscar in her role as Fantine, and starred Wolverine as Jean Valjean), many know the basic outline of Jean Valjean, branded a criminal for life for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread, pursued with dogged ferocity for decades by the unyielding police inspector Javert.
Valjean’s salvation via the kindliness of a Bishop and the adoption of a young girl, Cosette, left in wretched circumstances by an unfortunate mother who sacrificed everything for her.If you can read of these promising youths cut down in their prime with cries of “Long live the future!” without being moved, you have the staunch constitution of Javert.But in all seriousness, poems, and plays now mostly forgotten—and it has carved a permanent place in popular culture.The book has never fallen out of style since its emergence (it was a sensational best-seller in its day, though somewhat coolly reviewed by snooty critics).I think about Javert’s revelation all the time, and wish I could make it requisite reading. This sceptic’s name was Grantaire, and he was in the habit of signing himself with this rebus: R. The “new” Amis are often rendered in fic and fanart in a rainbow of ethnicities and sexualities, and cosplayers embody them in new shapes and situations.Or, for another and nearly opposite view of the human condition, gaze upon Hugo’s description of the cynical, alcoholic Grantaire, attached to the revolutionary Friends of l’ABC only by the force of his affection: Among all these glowing hearts and thoroughly convinced minds, there was one sceptic. Grantaire was a man who took good care not to believe in anything. To read and love is not only a profound act, but it can become a lifestyle.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.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.