Re-Reading Les Misérables

Thoughts and commentary on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece.

Two Old Men

Pere Mabeuf: Kindly, his only political philosophy is “book-ism.” He can’t imagine why people would bother hating each other over such trivialities as political opinions when there are so many fascinating plants and books they could be exploring instead. Sadly, his hyper-focus causes him to miss the signs that his financial situation is deteriorating.

He’s really an underappreciated character.

M. Gillenormand (Marius’ grandfather): after reading the morning news, he rants about kids these days, their sloppy dressing, entitlement, disrespect for political systems that were good enough back in his day, disparages their masculinity, makes racist comparisons, and declares all news media a scourge.

It’s presented as ridiculous. And it is.

But it’s also depressing in how familiar it is, more than 150 years later. Not just that an old man is angrily shouting at the news, but that it’s what you’d expect from an old man shouting at the news today.