Les Miserables is a monumental novel with monumental faults. At over twelve hundred pages in a single volume, it is, literally, the biggest book I have read. When I take it out of my bag on the bus, I feel like I’m unfolding a piece of furniture. If I leave it on my desk at work, people stop and ask “what’s that”, as if it’s sheer size makes it unrecognisable as a book. My Arts degree was a smaller commitment (not that that’s saying much).
Luckily, most of it’s really good. The scale of Hugo’s ambition and intellect is dazzling. He attempts to capture the entirety of the social and cultural climate of his age, and in most cases, succeeds. Unfortunately, he’s also a self-indulgent wind-bag who is so eager to display his vast knowledge and research that he is prone to long, trying tangents. Read the rest of this entry »