June 20th, 2012

couple w/ umbrella on street

Effect of the Spring - Les Misérables

I just re-read the chapters in which Marius and Cosette fall into a mutual adoration of each other from afar in the Luxembourg Gardens, which I love wholeheartedly. As with the whole book, this section is written eloquently and with profound observations about human behavior, but it's also funny and whimsical and charming, and rings quite true. I mean, after exchanging glances with a beautiful stranger, who hasn't arrived at the sudden realization, "Oh my God, my clothes look awful today, why didn't anyone tell me?"

The start of the "grave malady":


Marius had thrown open his whole soul to nature, he was not thinking of anything, he simply lived and breathed, he passed near the bench, the young girl raised her eyes to him, the two glances met.

What was there in the young girl's glance on this occasion? Marius could not have told. There was nothing and there was everything. It was a strange flash.

She dropped her eyes, and he pursued his way.

What he had just seen was no longer the ingenuous and simple eye of a child; it was a mysterious gulf which had half opened, then abruptly closed again.

There comes a day when the young girl glances in this manner. Woe to him who chances to be there!

...That evening, on his return to his garret, Marius cast his eyes over his garments, and perceived, for the first time, that he had been so slovenly, indecorous, and inconceivably stupid as to go for his walk in the Luxembourg with his "every-day clothes," that is to say, with a hat battered near the band, coarse carter's boots, black trousers which showed white at the knees, and a black coat which was pale at the elbows.


It goes on in equally charming manner for many pages, which I'm refraining from posting in its entirety by serious self-control. Why aren't you reading this novel??