I have thoroughly enjoyed Julie Rose’s new translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I read the more common English translation a few years ago and enjoyed it (the story is a classic, after all), but Rose’s translation is like going from a black-and-white television to color.
As I read through Hugo’s novel this summer, I underlined thought-provoking sayings and comments. Over the next several Saturdays, I’d like to share some of them here.
“The free time left to [Bishop Bienvenu] by these thousand matters and by his church services and his breviary was given first to the needy, the sick, and the downtrodden; the time left to him by the downtrodden, the sick and the needy was given to toil. Sometimes he took a shovel to the garden, sometimes he did a bit of reading and writing. He had one word only for these two different kinds of work: he called both gardening. ‘The mind is a garden,’ he would say.” (17)
“…The beautiful is just as useful as the useful.” After a pause, he added, “Perhaps more so.” (21)
“Do not ask the name of the person who asks you for a bed for the night. He whose name is a burden to him needs shelter more than anyone.” (22)
“There is such a thing as priestly courage just as there is the courage of the colonel of the dragoons. Only,” the bishop would add, “ours should be quiet.” (22)
The best minds have their soft spots and sometimes feel somewhat bruised by the scant respect of logic. (37)
Those in quest of a future flutter around the leading lights of the present. (43)
A saint who leads a life of excessive self-denial is dangerous to be around. He could well infect you by contagion with incurable poverty, numbing of the joints used for climbing the ladder, and, in short, a tad more renunciation than you’d like. People flee from such squalid virtue. (44)
He did not study God, he was dazzled by Him. (48)
You can’t pray too much any more than you can love too much. (49)