Barricade Day

“Les Miserables” was not the first book I loved, but it is the book I’ve loved the longest.

Victor Hugo’s writing frequently is intimidating; he uses sometimes page-length sentences and digressions (that sometimes end up mattering in the big picture but other times seem not to), and it can be very easy to get lost. “Les Miserables” takes place on a large scope in terms of setting, time, and, of course, the physical length of the novel as a thing that a person picks up and engages with. There’s a reason why the book is referred to (affectionately) as the “Brick.”

I find it difficult to explain what exactly it is about “Les Miserables” that means so much to me as a reader and as a person in general. It is easier for me to rely on Upton Sinclair’s preface to the book, when he states that “So long as there shall exist…a social condemnation, which…artificially creates hell on earth…so long as the three problems of age…are not solved…in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”

Books like “Les Miserables” are not pleasant to read, but they are necessary. They remind us what it is to be human, and what it is to feel sympathy for our fellow man. They remind us that it is our job to make the world better for tomorrow, even if we may not be around to immediately feel the difference ourselves.

Today is what some people refer to as “Barricade Day,” referring specifically to the June Rebellion that appears in “Les Miserables,” led by the student group Les Amis de l’ABC.

Today more than ever, we should focus on reading and engaging with literature and media that remind us to strive towards social progress. We shouldn’t let our politics be motivated by pettiness or hatred; we should be striving to uplift our fellow man. Unfortunately, sometimes it is easier to convince people that they should care about other people through literature than through the actual events that are happening around them, but if that is what it takes, then we should continue reading. We should continue to look for the books like “Les Miserables.”

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Author: jillboger

Part time writer. Editor-in-Chief for the Bridge volume 13, former EIC for The Odyssey at BSU. My glasses protect my secret identity.

5 thoughts on “Barricade Day”

  1. I am very interested in reading the book…. As I have already seen the movie. Yikes! Is it a hard read? I plan to read it anyways, I am just curious about it.

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    1. It can be a very daunting book, and there are significantly more characters in it than there are in the movie–and some of the roles that the characters in the movie play get shifted as the actual people performing them in the book are different. If you’re going to pick up “Les Miserables,” I would be aware of the fact that it is one of those books you have to take time to read and go through, and it does not lend itself very well to speed reading. It is a tough read, especially depending on your own reading level and the translation that you end up reading of it.

      That said, I would still go for it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read the “brick” too. Yes, it is intimidating to read. But it helps understanding the musical first. True some characters are quite different, but makes sense. This book took me less then one summer. I would read those boring history lessons to get more out of it.

        Tip- if you stick to the book, you will be sure to finish it. If you stay moved by it, you will get there.

        Liked by 1 person

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