Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Les Misérables

I'd like to start by saying that this post has nothing to do with the Les Misérables film that is coming out in December. I've never even seen the musical Les Misérables. But, where there is smoke there is fire...

Volumes 1&2
So, I undertook to read the original unabridged version in French. Wow, books these days are so different from back then. If someone went on for pages and pages about social darkness and then went back to the story, and then did it again....well, the book probably wouldn't get published without major amputations. But that was then, and this is now. So, the story that was adapted into one of the most popular musical dramas made it to press. Look to the past, learn for the future.

Anyhow, the thing that struck me most about the book is the fact that the title is very fitting. I wish I had kept a tally of how many times the word "misérable" was used.

Basically there are three types of miserable people in this book:

The miserably poor
The emotionally wretched
The wretchedly both

The French word "misérable" is full of meanings. First of all, it is a noun and an adjective like the English word "miserable." One would think it means "miserable" straight-up and simple. But, it actually translates better as "wretched" (adj) or "wretch" (n).  It can also mean "slummy" and "poverty stricken." The French word "misérable" translates to "miserable" when one is talking of a miserable place or situation but not a miserable person.


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