Re-Reading Les Misérables

Thoughts and commentary on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece.

Back on the Chain Gang

“Jean Valjean had been recaptured. It will be appreciated if we do not dwell on the painful details.”

Why start now?

Sorry, just kidding.

I love how the newspapers credit Valjean’s unmasking to “the indefatigable zeal of the public prosecutor’s office” and not to M. Madeleine turning himself in. And Valjean is tried and convicted for armed highway robbery against a child. If being an ex-con to begin with hadn’t destroyed his reputation, that would have.

Thénardier and Boulatruelle know each other already in Montfermeil. And Boulatruelle recognizes Valjean from prison, but doesn’t name him. If they compare notes later on, that may be another factor in T. regretting the deal over Cosette.

I love multilingual puns. “…the sans-culottes revived, to the great horror of dowagers, under the name of descamisados…” Basically: the pantsless revived as the shirtless. (In both cases, they’re political factions.)

Returned to prison, this time for life, Valjean seizes a chance to save someone’s life, escape, and very publicly fake his own death all at once. He could probably have rested easy at this point. Even Javert has no reason to look. Captured, dead, case closed. Ironically, it’s Cosette’s disappearance from Montfermeil that tips Javert off that Valjean might still be alive (and on the loose). No good deed…