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Yes. This. Nothing to add; I just think this is terrific.

Dr X

Great post. A few weeks ago, someone I know referred to post-charitable Christianity, explaining that conservative Christians believe that, for the most part, the needy deserve their fate. I'm not sure this is something new, but I don't recall a time when disdain for those in need was quite so openly expressed. God doesn't punish neglect of the poor because he is, himself, punishing the greedy, lazy poor. Who among the recipients of God's rewards should then take it upon themselves to undo God's punishments?


Well said. (I don't know if you caught Roy Edroso's post on conservatives trying to claim Les Miserables the film as conservative rather than just enjoying it, but it sounds like you've seen some of the same stuff.)

The way I've explained the opening with the Bishop is that, to borrow from what an English prof. said about The Knight's Tale in The Canterbury Tales, the Bishop of Digne (60 pages or so in my edition) is a mappemonde. He lays out the spiritual universe of Hugo, for whom the Bishop is a moral paragon, a living saint. The Bishop is key for Valjean, who emulates him greatly, but there's also that wonderful scene where the Bishop's a bit angry, visiting the dying revolutionary – and then asks his forgiveness. (Then there's the 60 pages on Waterloo.) Hugo is verbose and digressive, but he's really trying to lay out his entire view of the universe, including providing context for and passing judgment on well over 40 years of massively consequential French history. Whatever else Hugo is a writer, he is astoundingly ambitious.

Rampant Yeti

I still doubt I'll be going out to see the movie, but you're wearing down my resistance to picking up the book. (Balzac intrigues, but decent translations seem to be an issue.)

Appropos of nothing (except maybe Tom Hooper's work with actors), I can only giggle at the virtually identical expressions of Valjean and Enjolras in the two pictures.

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