A Classics Challenge March Prompt: Setting

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I've just started my reread of Les Miserables (but my first read of the Julie Rose translation, hooray!). I read this book in high school and loved it, but I am looking forward to what I think will probably be a superior translation and new insights into the story. Anyway, I guess what I am saying is that I am not very far along, but I am so excited about reading this book that I want to write about it for November's Autumn's classics prompt, which is on setting, anyway.

Level 1
How has the author introduced the setting? What does it tell you about the character? about the time period? What is the mood of the setting?

Well, so far the only actual setting that has been introduced is the Bishop's home. However, that setting is quite revealing for the character of the Bishop, who is small as far as face time in the story goes (if anything can be said to be small in Les Miserables) but who sets the tone for the whole novel. Hugo describes the richness of his home and the smallness of the parish hospital, and the fact that the Bishop decided to switch the hospital and his home because he needed only a small space and the hospital needed to be able to accomodate more people. Honestly, it sets the mood for the entire story -- it shows us opulence and suffering juxtaposed, and the Bishop does the right thing in giving opulence to the suffering and simplicity to his comfortable self. 

Level 2
How do you envision it? Find a few images or describe it. Do you feel the setting is right? or was it a weak point of the author?

I'm too lazy to look up images, to be honest, but I think it is a very strong point of Hugo. He doesn't really leave anything halfway finished.

Level 3
If this particular setting was changed how would it affect the course of the story?

This particular piece of the story is perfect where it is -- it is where Jean Valjean comes after his release, where he learns to love and makes the goal that he will give his life to God, which affects all of the major characters that follow. In a broader sense, because this story deals with history, it has to take place in France. Although the characters are fictional, the larger scope of the events are not.


  1. I'm loving this story so far!!! I'm hosting a readalong in 2012. If you want to add anything to the discussion, please feel free! http://www.kateslibrary.blogspot.com/2012/03/les-miserables-victor-hugo-post-1.html

    I also do not have trouble picturing anything - I think Hugo does a fantastic job painting the scene.

  2. Thank you for the invitation! I am not reading it at the same pace that you are for the read-along but I would love to add to the discussion and read what other people think once I finish book 1.

    And I agree -- he is such a great writer. Are you reading the Julie Rose translation? The difference between that and the first one I read (I'm not sure who translated that one) is like night and day.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...