Under It

Q: What weighs 10,000 pounds and is trying to kill me?

A: Les Misérables.

OK, it's a weak riddle, I'll admit it. Nonetheless, I speak from the heart, I assure you. Here's what happened: I found a copy at a library sale for 50 cents. I started to read it, though I had my suspicions: Only 400 pages? That seems shorter than I imagined. 

Which of course, segued immediately (or, you know, two or three days later) to: Oh wait! This copy is ABRIDGED.

Ohhhhh. Well there's no way I can countenance that, I decided. I'd better find myself a regular copy.

That was 500 pages ago. Friends, I don't know if I'm going to come out the other side. I may just wander around in there for the rest of my life. I fear I cannot find my way out. You read 300 pages and then there is a good line. And then there is a long, long description of why convents are barbaric.

Why am I reading it, do you ask? Well, I decided to. And, I feel like there must be something there. And…I don't know. I'm in the middle of the desert. It can't be that easy just to walk to the water fountain.

The nice thing is that the pile of books that awaits me seems more desirable with every passing piece of information about Paris. Maybe it will all be to the good?

Still and all, it's not easy going. Has anyone been to the other side? Is it beautiful there?

8 thoughts on “Under It

  1. God, no. The only outrageously long books that I’ve ever read are “Moby Dick” (that I had to read for an American lit class in college) and “The Way We Live Now” by Trollope, and I adored every page of that one. I made a couple of attempts with Les Mis and with War and Peace, but that’s it. I’ll die, never having read them.

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  2. Meh. I read it for my AP English class and, while I appreciate that its themes and particularly its description of the lives of the poor were revolutionary at the time, I mostly remember slogging through an opening chapter on the Battle of Waterloo, the entire purpose of which was to tell you that one of the characters was present robbing the corpses on the battlefield.

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  3. I loved it. I can’t tell you why, and I think it’s been 10+ years since I read it, but I really did love it.
    If memory serves (and it may not), I read it when I was on maternity leave and stuck to a chair, nursing an insatiable infant. So you know, it’s perfect for when you’re not being allowed to get up. 🙂

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  4. Ugh. I tried, gallantly, and failed somewhere during the Waterloo chapter. If you do reach enlightenment at the other end, please enlighten me, as I have no intention of trying again…(good luck!!)

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  5. Yeah, that Waterloo section. Well. Let’s just say I hope there’s not a quiz on how thoroughly I read that part. But things have perked up again now, with intrigue and lost fathers, etc, so I hope to persevere. For some reason. I don’t know what it is.

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  6. We had to read the abridged version for eighth grade English class, and remember I liked it. I remember my teacher saying there was no shame in reading the abridged version. (I agree with her.)

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  7. I remember a friend reading Middlemarch for university (the whole of) one summer. She sent me a postcard when she finished it. She said that reading it had become a way of life and having finished it was like moving on to a new phase of being.

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