Confession: it took me 13 months to read through Les Miserables.
But, as reading through a 962 page book is no small feat (especially when page upon page of the dreary French Revolution is investigated and explained in intricate detail), I, for one, owe it to Victor Hugo to capture a few favorite quotes from his remarkable novel.
“True or false, that which is said of men often occupies as important a place in their lives, and above all in their destinies, as that which they do” (17).
“The most beautiful of altars … is the soul of an unhappy creature consoled and thanking God” (30).
“Let us never fear robbers or murderers. Those are dangers from without, petty dangers. Let us fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers; vices are the real murders. The great dangers lie within ourselves. What matters it what threatens our head or our purse! Let us think only of that which threatens our soul” (34).
“Her splendid teeth had evidently received an office from God – laughter” (99).
“If you were to cease to love me, I would spring after you, I would scratch you, I should rend you, I would throw you into the water, I would have you arrested” (104).
“The supreme happiness of life consists in the conviction that one is loved; loved for one’s own sake – let us say rather, loved in spite of one’s self…” (125).
“There is a spectacle more grand than the sea; it is heaven; there is a spectacle more grand than heaven; it is the inmost recesses of the soul” (149).
“She had never been taught to turn to Providence and to pray; nevertheless, she felt within her something which resembled hope and joy, and which mounted towards heaven” (262).
“Nevertheless, there was something beyond that shadow; there was light; there was life in the midst of that death” (328).
“A smile is the same as sunshine; it banishes winter from the human countenance” (385).
“Where do we stand? Who are we? Who are you? Who am I?” (448).
“Humanity is identity. All men are made of the same clay. There is no difference, here below, at least, in predestination. The same shadow in front, the same flesh in the present, the same ashes afterwards. But ignorance, mingled with the human paste, blackens it” (479).
What can I say? I’m a sucker for soul, and I’m smitten when it comes to questions of identity and humanity and LOVE. I too yearn for smiles that spring forth from the recesses of our deepest insides, and to say that Hugo captured these favorites is an understatement. So go – buy that book, rent the movie, cheer on grace and truth and goodness on Broadway itself – and then get back to me with your Les Mis favorites as well!
What about you? Have you read the book, seen the movie, or cheered on the Broadway show? How did it change you?