After one year and 4ish months of trying, I did it: I finished reading Les Miserables.
And if you can bear a quote post, it might be worth your time. Victor Hugo has a way with words that is outrageously perceptive, understanding, descriptive, and faithful. He definitely redeemed himself in my eyes (I had only ever read passages from The Hunch Back of Notre Dame before, specifically the part where he goes on and on about architecture for like 40 pages). Thank you, Magdalene, for giving me such an awesome Christmas present almost two years ago!
Plus he had bangin’ taste. Check out V. Hugo’s room:
This following one might be my favorite thing about love ever:
Can two people charm and delight one another too much, be too happy, too much alive? … For what is the sun if not love, and what is love if not a woman! It is woman who is all-powerful. Is not Marius, that young demagogue, enslaved by the tyranny of that little Cosette? And gladly so! Woman! You may talk of Robespierre, but it is the woman who rules. That is the only kind of royalty I recognize. What was Adam except Eve’s kingdom? … [Men] still have to love women and there’s no getting away from it. Love, women, and kisses are a magic circle from which I defy you to escape, and for my part I wish I could get back into it. …We are all the same, we have our rages, but when a woman appears on the seen we’re on our knees. Six months ago Marius was fighting, and today he has got married. …You must live boldly each for the other, cling and caress, frantic only because you cannot do more. To love and be loved, that is the miracle of youth. … You must be so close that when you are together you lack nothing. Cosette the sun for Marius and Marius the whole world for Cosette. Fine weather, for Cosette, must be her husband’s smiles, and for Marius the rain should be his wife’s tears. You have drawn the winning number in the lottery and you must treasure it. We all have our own way of worshipping God, but the best of all, Heaven knows, is to love one’s wife. (Monsieur Gillenormand, 1138-9, emphasis added)
Separated lovers… Are prevented from seeing one another and they cannot write; nevertheless they find countless mysterious ways of corresponding, by sending each other the song of birds, the scent of flowers, the laughter of children, the light of the sun, the sighing of the wind, and the gleam of the stars—all the beauties of creation. Any why should they not? All the works of God are designed to serve love, and love has the power to charge all nature with its messages. Oh, spring, you are a letter which I send her! (Marius, page 804)
It is a mistake to suppose that the state of being in love…makes a man perfect. As we have seen, it simply makes him forgetful. If he forgets to be evil, he forgets to be good. The sense of gratitude and obligation, the recollection of everyday essentials, all this tends to disappear. (852)
We salute those who kneel. Faith is necessary to man; woe to him who believes in nothing! (1212)
The pupil dilates in darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God. (1078)
Predestination does not always offer a straight road to the predestined; there are many twists and turns, forks and crossroads. (1142)
Is it not the most fallen who have the most need of charity? (640)
If mankind is to advance there must be installed permanently at the head of its columns proud instances of courage. Acts of daring light the pages of history and the soul of man. The sunrise is an act of daring. To venture, to defy, to persevere, to be one’s true self, to grapple with destiny, to dismay calamity by not being afraid of it, to challenge now unrighteous powers and now victory run rile, to stand fast and hold firm—these are the examples that the peoples need, the spark that electrifies them. (508) [This reminds me of the prophets and apostles from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and today!]
Should we continue to look upwards? Is the light we can see in the sky one of those which will presently be extinguished? The ideal is terrifying to behold, lost as it is in the depths, small, isolated, a pin-point, brilliant but threatened on all sides by the dark forces that surround it: nevertheless, no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds. (1232)
In his heart there is a pearl of innocence, and pearls do not dissolve in mud. While man is still a child God keeps him innocent. (495)
In the forming of a young girl’s soul not all the nuns in the world can take the place of a mother. (766)
She saw clearly and was not easily deceived, being guided by the soft, infallible instinct of the feminine heart. Only women have this gift for saying things that are at once tender and profound. Tenderness and depth: all womanhood resides in these, and all Heaven. (848)
“So what’s cheap in these days? Everything costs more. Nothing’s free except toil and trouble and you get those free of charge.” -The character Madame Bougon (629)
Knowing that she was beautiful she perceived, however indistinctly, that she was armed. Women play with their beauty like children with a knife, and sometimes cut themselves. (774)
“As to that,” said Gavroche, “I am profoundly indifferent.” (908)
When we get the old women empyting chamber-pots on our heads we’re done for. (1023)
In the animal world no creature born to be a dove turns into a scavenger. This happens only among men. (635)
Marius had lived through five years of penury and deprivation, sometimes of great hardship; but, as he perceived, he had never known the real meaning of poverty, utter destitution, until he encountered it in the person of that girl [Eponine]. To witness the abjection of men is not enough: one must also witness the abjection of women: and even this pales before the abjection of a child. (638)
Then came April, the Dawn of summer, fresh as all dawns, and merry as childhood, if inclined to be fretful at times, like all young things. Nature in that month sheds rays of enchanting light which, from the sky and the clouds, from trees, meadows, and flowers, pierce to the heart of man.
Cosette was still too young not to be responsive to the magic of April. Insensibly, without her realizing it, the shadows lifted from her heart. Spring brings light to the sorrowing just as the midday sun does to the darkness of a cave. (789)
We all know the artfulness with which a dropped coin hides itself, and the job we have to find it again. There are thoughts which play the same trick on us, rolling into a buried corner of our minds; and there it is, they’ve gone forever, we can’t put out finger on them. (1016) [Story of my life.]
The sun teaches men to endure. (1030)
And with that, I’m out.