I am currently being blown away by Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserable’s.
I previously loved Notre Dame de Paris by him and identified with his character through his subject matter and as an author.
I need to spend time right now with saner, more grounded minds apart from the world of noise and perpetual panic.The character of Brother ‘Welcome’ the community nickname for the priese or bishop who eloquently told the tale of ‘just because I have a title you know not that I am good man’ walking with him to visit a blackguard revolutionary, unrepentant, asking the man – the priest asking the revolutionary – for his blessing, on the man’s deathbed.
The overview is not the same as going through. I’ve dropped 15 pounds in a week and on a mention of St. Francis have spent my dvd money on birdseed.
I have reached the introduction of Cosette, the little girl in rags with the gigantic broom sweeping the paving stones in poverty that is often the ‘poster girl’ of the musical Les Mis. And the way Hugo tells of her mother before she describes her being abandoned by Cosette’s father, before she in turn must abandon Cosette to foster parents who duplicitously neglect her and leave her in such a state while the mother is away,… The heights in the green grassy sunlight description shared here, sublimely precipitate to the misery of the cold street…
I am not able to write but barely at the moment… I feel like I have been manipulating microcircuits trying to beat the shadow of the atom bomb while Godzilla stares at me through the window… Here is the passage…
As for Fantine, she was a joy to behold. Her splendid teeth had evidently received an office from God,—laughter. She preferred to carry her little hat of sewed straw, with its long white strings, in her hand rather than on her head. Her thick blond hair, which was inclined to wave, and which easily uncoiled, and which it was necessary to fasten up incessantly, seemed made for the flight of Galatea under the willows. Her rosy lips babbled enchantingly. The corners of her mouth voluptuously turned up, as in the antique masks of Erigone, had an air of encouraging the audacious; but her long, shadowy lashes drooped discreetly over the jollity of the lower part of the face as though to call a halt. There was something indescribably harmonious and striking about her entire dress. She wore a gown of mauve barège, little reddish brown buskins, whose ribbons traced an X on her fine, white, open-worked stockings, and that sort of muslin spencer, a Marseilles invention, whose name, canezou, a corruption of the words quinze août, pronounced after the fashion of the Canebière, signifies fine weather, heat, and mid- day. The three others, less timid, as we have already said, wore low-necked dresses without disguise, which in summer, beneath flower-adorned hats, are very graceful and enticing; but by the side of these audacious outfits, blond Fantine’s canezou, with its transparencies, its indiscretion, and its reticence, concealing and dis- playing at one and the same time, seemed an alluring godsend of decency, and the famous Court of Love, presided over by the Vicomtesse de Cette, with the sea-green eyes, would, perhaps, have awarded the prize for coquetry to this canezou, in the contest for the prize of modesty. The most ingenious is, at times, the wisest.
This does happen. Brilliant of face, delicate of profile, with eyes of a deep blue, heavy lids, feet arched and small, wrists and ankles admirably formed, a white skin which, here and there allowed the azure branching of the veins to be seen, joy, a cheek that was young and fresh, the robust throat of the Juno of Aegina, a strong and supple nape of the neck, shoulders modelled as though by Coustou, with a voluptuous dimple in the middle, visible through the muslin; a gayety cooled by dreaminess; sculptural and exquisite—such was Fantine; and beneath these feminine adornments and these ribbons one could divine a statue, and in that statue a soul. Fantine was beautiful, without being too conscious of it. Those rare dreamers, mysterious priests of the beautiful who silently confront everything with perfection, would have caught a glimpse in this little working woman, through the transparency of her Parisian grace, of the ancient sacred euphony. This daughter of the shadows was thoroughbred. She was beautiful in the two ways—style and rhythm. Style is the form of the ideal; rhythm is its movement. We have said that Fantine was joy; she was also modesty. To an observer who studied her attentively, that which breathed from her athwart all the intoxication of her age, the season, and her love affair, was an invincible expression of reserve and modesty. She remained a little astonished. This chaste astonishment is the shade of difference which separates Psyche from Venus. Fantine had the long, white, fine fingers of the vestal virgin who stirs the ashes of the sacred fire with a golden pin. Although she would have refused nothing to Tholomyès, as we shall have more than ample opportunity to see, her face in repose was supremely virginal; a sort of serious and almost austere dignity suddenly overwhelmed her at certain times, and there was nothing more sin- gular and disturbing than to see gayety become so suddenly extinct there, and meditation succeed to cheerfulness without any transition state. This sudden and sometimes severely accentuated gravity resembled the disdain of a goddess. Her brow, her nose, her chin, presented that equilibrium of outline which is quite distinct from equilibrium of proportion, and from which harmony of countenance results; in the very characteristic interval which separates the base of the nose from the upper lip, she had that imperceptible and charming fold, a mysterious sign of chastity, which makes Barberousse fall in love with a Diana found in the treasures of Iconia. Love is a fault; so be it. Fantine was innocence floating high over fault.