“Philosophy after a drink or two”
We were discussing western religious thought in my philosophy class recently. A young man asked a question that had to do with the consequences of coming face to face with incontrovertible proof against one’s own dearly held ideology. The professor, whom I grow quite fond of, grew very intense and began to give an example that perfectly illustrated the imaginary event: Les Misérables. He looked at me intensely as he is wont to do (not me specifically, more like – anyone whom is actually engaged and listening to him) while describing the book briefly. I was done for. It was just the moment when I was beginning to think of what to read next. The next day as I drove to the library I chastised myself for the silly feeling of euphoria that overtook me. You’re pathetic, you know that don’t you? Yes, but hurry!
My library had a newer translation by Julie Rose. Normally I do not read introductions (not written by the author) unless I am moved to do so after I have read the book myself, but Adam Gopnik wrote it and I have always liked his essays. I had the very mundane revelation that introductions are actually meant to make a person want to read the book more, which I certainly did, so good job Mr. Gopnik.
“He had thought long and hard the whole night, he had thought long and hard the whole day; the only thing he could still hear inside him was a voice that said: Woe is me!”
And the book is extraordinary. I am not even close to finished, it will take time. I took my car this morning to get a new battery, when I went to pay I placed the book on the counter. “That’s a very big book,” the very sweet mechanic said. “It’s a very good book,” I answered, I’ll be back on Friday for 2 new front tires “more time to read it,” I declared enthusiastically. He laughed rather more at me than with me. Oh well.
My heart lurches, I can’t put it down, the “fas and the nefas” of humanity so perfectly described. The unfairness and pain of living.
“His mind was on sad and confused things.”
Mine too. M. Hugo let me stay a while, find solace in your universal tale lest we crumple like dead leaves and scatter in the winds of despair.
*Title (a line from a heartbreakingly simple song Fantine sings as she lay dying hoping for her daughter) and quotes: Victor Hugo – Les Misérables