Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, December 07, 2012

Taking the Le Miz leap

It may be too soon to start talking about New Year's resolutions and usually,I don't make any because they're broken all too easily before springtime hits. However,I do have one for 2013 and it's of a major literary commitment;I plan to read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables in it's entirety.

Or,as entire as the Norman Denny translation that I'll be reading is. From what I understand,Denny takes a couple of lengthy passages and places them in an after portion of the book but apparently it makes the story a little easier to get into. As long as that move doesn't interfere with the plot,I'm good with it.

This isn't the first time that I've tried to read Les Miz,or Victor Hugo for that matter,but I really want to give this reading a serious try. My morning reading regiment has been working well for me(am in the midst of Martin Chuzzlewit right now)and that strategy should work well here.

Les Miserables is one of those literary mountains that readers like to climb and for good reason. The book has been around for over two hundred years and adapted for the movies about half of that span,finding relevance with new audiences along the way:

The biggest pop culture springboard for Les Miz has been the highly successful musical stage version that hit Broadway during the 1980s and is now about to be a major Christmas movie release.

The play won several Tonys and has been performed internationally,winning various honors along the way. It's become so beloved that even the anniversary concert performances of the show are sold-out sensations. I haven't seen the play and would like to see the new film version and yes,that is part of the reason that I want to tackle the book but not the main one:

This story of Jean Valjean and his attempts at redemption never seems to fail to strike those resounding chords of empathy and resilience with each generation it comes across,musical or otherwise. A strong feature of the story's appeal is in it's French Revolution setting yet that can not account for this epic tale's timelessness.

Le Miz not only has worldwide drawing power but it's been a subtly steady influence on pop culture,from the TV show The Fugitive to video games and even the South Park creators took a few notes from the musical for their animated big screen foray a few years back. If this classic novel can take root and blossom in such unlikely creative soil,there really must be more to it than a placement on a required reading list:

So,hopefully,I'm ready to travel this rough road along with many others like me who will take the new adaptation as inspiration for some serious page turning. While I don't plan to start the book on January 1(still have to finish up Martin Chuzzlewit after all),Les Miserables will be part of my reading plan for quite a while in the new year.

As for the film,I'm not sure when I will get to see that but even if I do during my reading of the book,that won't spoil any of the pleasures and sorrows that await me with every chapter. The movie does appear to be a bright spot on the Hollywood holiday horizon and should rack up a sweet number of Oscar nominations there.

The real merits of the film and this story,however, is the hope in a better world that even the most downtrodden characters hold on to,a need that time does not wear away completely. Perhaps,in these troubling times,this is the perfect comfort that art can provide:

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