Why you should read Les Misérables

You’re watching it on PBS, and maybe you can hum all the tunes from the musical – but there’s nothing quite like reading the book itself.

But it’s so looong!

True. Compared to the miniseries adaptation‘s six-hour running time, the unabridged audiobook – read by master narrator George Guidall – runs for over sixty hours, and the Modern Library edition is 1,330 pages long, with 365 chapters. One reason that many 19th Century novels are so long is that they were originally read serially, in weekly installments, rather than straight-through. Read this way, the novel’s length becomes an asset, stretching out the narrative across time. Prolong the pleasure! Set out to read one chapter a day, for a year – and enjoy binging ahead when you just can’t stand the suspense.

What suspense? I already know the story! Continue reading “Why you should read Les Misérables”

Reading Notre Dame

Vision of Notre Dame: a sketch by Victor Hugo

It has to be the worst possible reason to have a bestseller. In the wake of last week’s devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel Notre Dame de Paris – perhaps better known to English speakers as The Hunchback of Notre Dame – has climbed to the top of the charts.

One unforgettable passage in particular has grown more even more poignant. Continue reading “Reading Notre Dame”