Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Update on Les Mis

As I mentioned at the end of my review of "Decline and Fall",  I am currently reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  This was one of the books on my Top Ten Books I've never read.  I'm only about 200 pages in.  It is going slow for a number of reasons.

One, I am married and have a son and work full time and, right now, I'm in one of those periods where I have so many balls up in the air that I cannot think straight.  I usually read on average fifty pages per day, and have for years.  It's not something I set out to do. It is just something I have noticed over the the end of the day, most any day, I will have read around fifty pages.  I've been reading about ten pages per day lately, because I am so exhausted that I can only prop my eyes up for that long before drifting off to sleep.

  Two, this book is intimidating in its heft.  At well over 1000 pages, it is like reading a marathon and I think my subconscious mind is slowing myself down to a trot for the long haul.

  Finally, it was written something like 200 years ago (not quite) and whenever I read a book written so long ago, the style seems to make me read slower to appreciate it.  This happened somewhat with Sister Carrie, which was written at the turn of the 20th century.

I am enjoying the book.  Valjean is becoming one of my favorite literary creations.  The bishop, though he only makes a brief appearance, is a wonderful character - love his dialogue with the dying man.  The book is like a conglomeration of my favorite themes.  I just wish I wasn't so tired all the time, and could make some more headway on it.


  1. I tried reading it along with a readalong group, a chapter a day, and finally got fed up and finished it ahead of time. I really did think the writing was excellent though (do we give that to the translator or to Hugo?). I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Hi Jenny, long time. I think there is an art to translating for sure. I've read enough 'lifeless' translations to know it's important to have a good translator. I am enjoying it.