The Genius Without an Editor

Animus meus flatilis est.

Want me to say it in English?

My mind is blown.

I finished Les Miserables today, on the second of two days of intense reading.  I read approximately two hundred pages today, two hundred pages yesterday, and the other thousand were spread over the remaining twenty-nine days of the month.

Nunc cogito intellego.

I thought The Count of Monte Cristo was good, and it was.  I thought War and Peace was good, and it was.  I thought the Lord of the Rings, the Book Thief, Inkheart, and Redwall were good.  They were.  Les Miserables outstrips every single thing I’ve read in my life.

This is not a review.  I don’t want to dissect the novel, or discuss it, or even think about it.  I’m amazed.  Absolutely amazed.

There were sections which, I confess, I only scanned.  For instance, the literally in-depth description of the sewers of Paris.  But as tangential as they might be, every such section adds to the grandeur of the whole book.  I didn’t mind, in the end.  Victor Hugo is a genius; a genius without an editor.

How do I go back to modern fiction now?  Formerly, I was satisfied with mediocre; now that I’ve seen the best, how do I go back?  And worse, how do I go back to my own writing?  Forget that.  It isn’t even on the same scale as Les Miserables.  How do I go back?

I don’t go back.  I have a new goal, so I measure everything else by it.  If it is in my power to make it better, I will– if not, I’ll find what would make it better regardless.  I won’t be dismissive of things that don’t measure up, but I won’t blindly accept them, either.

Les Miserables is nearly inapproachable.  I am amazed.

Guess my new favorite classic.

Il dort. Quoique le sort fut pour lui bien etrange,
Il vivait. Il mourut quand il n’eut plus son ange.
La chose simplement d’elle-meme arriva,
Comme la nuit se fait lorsque le jour s’en va.

He is asleep. Though his mettle was sorely tried.
He lived, and when he lost his angel, died.
It happened calmly, on its own,
The way night comes when day is done.

Advertisements
Next Post
Leave a comment

114 Comments

  1. oh, I need to put my hands on this book! not long ago I’ve been with Flaubert for a while, time for Hugo

    Reply
  2. I couldn’t agree more with you…
    xx
    Sooz

    Reply
  3. Robyn Hoode

     /  January 31, 2013

    So… are you going to rewrite your whole book so you describe the details like that (move over, Tolkien, Liam is taking you down!)?

    Reply
  4. Robyn Hoode

     /  January 31, 2013

    Just curious.

    Reply
  5. Even on the Kindle it looks daunting — it has as many length-indicative dots as the ESV Bible — but if it’s that amazing I should give it a go.

    Reply
    • Just make sure you kno what you’re doing.

      Reply
      • I’m sure I don’t know what I’m doing, but I have enough of an idea that I won’t start it right now. Too busy with studies. I’ll probably try in April or July. I want to read Great Expectations too though, and that’s another nice doorstop of a book.

      • Great Expectations goes quickly, though; much more so than Les Miserables.

      • A “doorstop of a book” I love that! xD

      • Ah, okay. I can see how reading 400 pages of Les Mis in two days would be a marathon effort then!

        And yes, Amanda, I like that metaphor too but I borrowed it from someone else I think…

      • Les Miserables is commonly called The Brick, in fact.

  6. Robyn Hoode

     /  January 31, 2013

    I have to ask… what made it better than LOTR? I’m curious and I don’t care if it killed the cat! (No offense to the talking cat watching me type) If a book is going to be better than my favorite book, I’d like to know why. (I heard The Once and Future King was better than The Fellowship of the Ring. I read it (I like King Arthur and liked the movie based off it) No, it wasn’t better. In fact, it was terrible.)

    Reply
    • You have to be deeply interested in morals and the characters themselves, even before you begin. Examine the motives of everyone in the book. It is a brilliant book because of its purpose: to show human nature. Lord of the Rings is just a story– everything else is just a story, compared to this.

      Reply
  7. I don’t think I have to guess. You just told us all.

    Reply
  8. rickwood26

     /  February 1, 2013

    Well son, do you still intend to cringe every time I describe the battle of Waterloo when recommending this book? Or are you going to subconsciously imitate me and use the description of the sewers in your reminiscing of this work? Glad you liked it.

    Reply
  9. Charley R

     /  February 1, 2013

    Eeeeee, you’re making me want to read it again! But I’m recoiling at the thought of all that dense prose . . . gah! You’ve got me in a proper tangle now, Head Phil!

    Reply
  10. Lisette Cando

     /  February 1, 2013

    Les Miserables is crazy long and crazy intense! All the background stuff about Fantine is heartbreaking and Marius has so much more depth than he does in the musical. I remember reading it one summer and I finished it barely an hour before I left for camp. Which translation did you read?

    Reply
  11. Robyn Hoode

     /  February 2, 2013

    I must be going crazy. I just got Les Miserables on my Kindle. Can’t guarentee when I’ll read it though.

    Reply
    • It’s free– what harm can it do, eh?

      Reply
      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 2, 2013

        It is a classic. You know what Mark Twain said about classics? A book which people praise and don’t read. I might actually read this, though… eventually.

      • Eventually, yes.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 2, 2013

        What about a second classic?

      • How do you mean?

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 2, 2013

        I’ll read it eventaully, yes, but what about a second classic (like second breakfast?) ?

      • Try War and Peace. Or the Count of Monte Cristo– I’d highly suggest the latter to get going on long classics.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 2, 2013

        Okay. I’m going to say something and you may come close to hating me for it… I’ve tried to read The Three Musketeers twice… and put it down twice. I like a couple of the movie adaptions, but the book…

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 2, 2013

        I’m likely to read The Count of Monte Cristo before the other. I can’t get War and Peace for free on my Kindle.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 2, 2013

        Scratch that. I can’t get either for free. 😦 I was looking foward to The Count.

      • The Count is much better than the Musketeers, in my opinion. You might be able to download it from iTunes, if it’s possible to get that onto a Kindle.

    • Robyn Hoode

       /  February 13, 2013

      Started Les Mis… sometime last week (?). That would’ve been a good thing to make a note of. *facepalm* I’m in the middle of chapter 6. Hugo is describing the Bishop’s house. *small, subtle eye-roll*
      So, I have a question to ask… what is the plot of this book? And when is the plot of this book?

      Reply
      • See, you’re reading it for the wrong reason already.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        I still want to know the basic plot.

      • Jean Valjean, former convict, has his life turned around by a kind bishop (the same M. Myriel you’re reading about now). Study him carefully, my friend. If they mention anything about candlesticks, pay attention.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        That I shall. I was actually considering asking in something of not quite frustration why did we need to know about his candlesticks. Don’t tell me, now–I was just thinking of how every sentence in a book is supposed to be important to the plot.

      • It isn’t important to the plot, but to the effect of the book. It’s meant to go into the gritty details. By the way, Hugo wanted to write M. Myriel as a corrupt, silly, un-priestly man in order to poke fun at the clergy of the time. Instead, his wife or someone close to him convinced him to write Myriel as he is now, and that hit the clergy harder than any satirical portrayal would. It’s pretty amazing.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        The power of words.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        Like Jane Austin.

      • Austen is less so (it’s spelled with an E), but yes.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        I wondered about that. I told you spelling wasn’t my strong point.

      • That didn’t stop you from correcting me on Rosy Cotton, when I was obviously right.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        And shame on me for being a Jane Austen fan but not spelling it right.
        Of course it didn’t stop me. I have read LOTR 4 times. Samwise Gamgee is my favorite in the Fellowship. It is ROSIE COTTON. Inside out and upside down.

      • I’ve read it as many times, and the background stories besides, and I know the names by sound, not necessarily by spelling. I can tell you who Beregond is, and Morgoth, and Ungoliant. But I don’t necessarily spell the smaller names right– the less memorable ones.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        You win.
        Like wise, I do not spell everything incorrectly, just some things.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        Wasn’t Ungoliant one of Shelob’s parents? The other two names sound familiar. I’m thinnking that Beregond was possibly an elf and Morgoth was the evil before Sauron… really the devil if you believe LOTR is allegory. But I might be wrong and I am sure that if it is the case, I will hear all about who they really are in your reply.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 14, 2013

        Then again, I might just go look it up.

      • Ungoliant was the original big bad spider who ravaged Middle Earth. The spiders of Mirkwood and Shelob were just miniatures. And yes, Morgoth was the original baddie. Sauron was his lieutenant, just as the Witch King of Angmar is Sauron’s lieutenant.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 15, 2013

        Wow. 2 out of three. So, who was Beregond?

      • He was the captain of the guard in Minas Tirith at the beginning of the Return of the King. He was Pippin’s tour guide, I believe, and his son also had some part to play.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 15, 2013

        Now, I remember that. Guess what book I’m reading this year.

      • What Trilogy, rather.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 15, 2013

        Which is actually 6 books…

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 15, 2013

        How is it more than 6?

      • The Hobbit, the Trilogy (that’s three), the Silmarillion (which is actually two or three books), the Lost Tales, the Children of Hurin, the Unfinished Tales (which is several books at once)– the series doesn’t end.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        I was talking about The Lord of the Rings. I might read The Hobbit and some of The Silmarillion, but I have no desire to read The Children oh Hurin again.

      • I liked the Children of Hurin.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        I don’t think we need literature in which sibs get married, but they can’t remember that they’re related. I blame that on Christopher, not John Ronald Reuel.

      • I more liked Turin and his talking sword.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        I don’t remember that, but it’s been a looong time since I read it. Maybe one day I will read it again. Right now, I’m reading a book Less Miserable. 🙂

      • Yes, it’s much less miserable when you get into it.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        I am so glad you understood the pun!

      • How could I not?

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        I’m enjoying Les Miserables so far.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        I didn’t want you to think that I was just misspelling it. 🙂

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        Oh!v Ithink I remember that part, now!

      • That was interesting.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        Tell me you are talking about the fact I suddenly remembered something and not the two terrible typos I just noticed. (You do your best proof-reading after you hit send… or post)

      • I stated, again, that the part about Turin’s sword was interesting to me. Nothing more.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 17, 2013

        Okay.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 16, 2013

        I really have no idea how the ‘v’ got there.

  12. I have a goal for my summer. Thank you, Liam.

    Reply
  13. Robyn Hoode

     /  March 12, 2013

    I’m baaaaaaaaack!
    I’m back to say that I really like The Bishop. And that I was telling Jean go back to sleep when he started thinking about the silver. And that this guy really DID need an editor! “To sum it up, in conclusion,…” I have never been so… worked up about redundency like that! That is terrible, Hugo! He should be shot for something like that, but for the fact that he’s already dead!

    Reply
    • Forgive him until the end of the book– then make judgments.

      Reply
      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 13, 2013

        Jean or Hugo?

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 13, 2013

        No! I shall continue to complain about his writing style until the very last sentence! 🙂

      • And I thought you were rational.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 13, 2013

        Only on days that end in ‘y’.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 14, 2013

        Look, here’s the thing about being rational. I was, at one point, more rational than I am now. But then, I started reading a blog… and the blog’s author wrote amazing writing posts and I would later discover that he was a good writer, too. And he almost always responds to comments, encouraging conversation about the topic and some randomness until we were really not discussing anything rational at all. And he became a favorite blogger and I kept reading his blog and am working on critiquing his periodical stuff … and I think the irrational rubbed off on me from reading and partaking in comment conversations that are seldom rational anymore by the time the comment train has come to a stop. So… in the words of The Cheshire Cat “We’re all mad here”. 🙂
        Anyway, I should go write. I left my charries in a closet waiting on an ambulance.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 14, 2013

        Besides, isn’t it irrational to stop complaining after I’ve been complaining the rest of the time?

      • Of course not– it’s a blessing to those around you!

        But thanks for the compliments!

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 14, 2013

        You’re welcome.

Comment! I'll reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: