May 20, 2012 at 3:08 am (Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , )

Notes from a Les Miserables Blog Hop

It took me longer to pluck through Cosette than it did for Fantine.  Only because it was so engrossing, I had to take a delicious detour into the historical writings of Charles Esdaile, author of Napoleon’s Wars.  Hugo was quite the scholar, and it shows in his writing, he goes on rants and exciting commentaries on things extremely relevant in his time, but which I feel a little less than educated on.  Not that you need additional reading to follow him, he is quite detailed.  I just like to know what I think about things before someone else tells me what to think of them.  So with new knowledge and a fresh perspective, I dove back into Cosette shortly after finishing Napoleon’s Wars, and I’m glad I did.  I recommend that anyone serious about reading Les Miserables, read a bit about the world prior to the introduction of Jean Valjean.

More than tell me much about Jean Valjean, it told me much about Hugo.  Often when reading work like Les Miserables, where all the characters go through long stretches of being miserable and down on their luck, I wonder what changed the author so to make them either so hardened or so empathetic (as one can write similar stories from two completely opposite positions).  Knowing more about the era, the place, being more familiar with my history, shed some light on those things.  For starters, Hugo writes about the aftermath (and even certain parts of the wars) with such passion.  He says things like, “Napoleon was one of those geniuses who rule the thunder” (pg.285) and “To make Wellington so great is to belittle England” (pg. 301).

Within the pages of Cosette, Hugo often references other writers and literature, comments and allusions to Aeschylus, Virgil, and Voltaire, just to name a few.  This got me even more curious about his frame of reference, his education, and I discovered he was trained to be a lawyer, but chose writing instead.  Not only did he write the novels we are all aquainted with, but poetry, a few nonfiction pieces, as well as founded and edited a literary journal.  He was highly devoted to the concept that everyone should have the opportunity to be educated, and in 1851 took part in the International Peace Congress in Paris.  As a member of the Legislative Assembly he was forced to flee France when Napoleon III came to power.  (  Now, I can’t wait to own everything the man ever touched.  I’d also like to find out if those literary journals are available anywhere, but I haven’t looked yet.

Of course, there’s more to Hugo’s writing than social commentary and history.  There’s a beautiful story unraveling about an old man and a young girl who need a family and have created one in each other.  Funny enough, it reminds me of the story starring Natalie Portman called Leon, The Professional.  Its a personal favorite of mine, and if you haven’t seen the movie, you should definitely check it out.  After reading all of Fantine’s history, and knowing all that Cosette had gone through with the Thénardiers, to have Cosette rescued from them led me to the deepest sigh of relief.  Like the first time you hear the story of Cinderella and discover she is no longer in the clutches of the evil step mother and sisters, Cosette leaving that household felt like she tumbled into a princessdom.  Now, I can’t wait to see what is in store for the unfortuneate but relatively happy pair next.

Follow my adventures through Les Miserables from the beginning.  Here you will also find the links to the Blog Hop’s host, Kate’s Library:

The post on Cosette by the Blog Hop’s Hostess, Kate’s Library, can be found here:

Read my post on Marius (part 3 of Les Miserables).


  1. Les Miserables Blog Hop « Anakalian Whims said,

    […] post on Cosette. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. Les Miserables Readalong Update 5/04/12 « Anakalian Whims said,

    […] read my official Cosette review posted on 5/19/12: Like this:LikeOne blogger likes this […]

  3. Marius « Anakalian Whims said,

    […] I had a hard time getting into part 3, as I tend to be impatient in my reading constantly wondering about relevance.  But of course, Hugo makes everything worth while and without fail Marius is just as intriguing as his predecessors: Fantine and Cosette. […]

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