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Julie Rose’s new translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is terrific. On Saturdays, I am sharing some quotes worth pondering (see firstsecondthird and fourth collections here):

“The peculiar thing about prudery is that, the less the fortress is under threat, the more it puts sentries around.” (501)

“A skeptic sticking to a believer – it is as elementary as the law of complementary colors. What we lack attracts us. No one loves daylight more than the blind. The dwarf adores the drum major. The toad always has his eyes on the heavens. Why? To see the birds fly.” (543)

“The wonderful thing about the clash of young minds is that you can never predict the spark or foresee the lightning flash of the explosion it sets off.” (554)

“Many great deeds are performed in the small struggles of life.” (560)

“A creditor is worse than a boss; for a boss only owns your person, but a creditor owns your dignity and can slap it around.” (563)

“The looks women throw out are like the moving parts of certain machines that look innocuous enough but are deadly.” (586)

“Might, even the most apparently necessary, even the most accepted by contemporaries, if it exists only as might and if it contains all too little right or no right at all, is infallibly doomed to become warped, vile, maybe even monstrous over time.” (679)

“Revolutions have tremendous arms and lucky hands; they hit hard and choose their targets well.” (682)

“A social deformity perhaps even more awful that the evil rich: the evil poor.” (706)

“A certain amount of daydreaming is good, like a narcotic in descreet doses. It sedates the sometimes high fevers of the overwrought brain at work and produces a soft fresh vapor in the mind that smooths out the oversharp points of pure thought, fills up the gaps and holes here and there, binds things together and blunts the jagged corners of ideas. But too much daydreaming drags you under and drowns you. Woe to the person who works with their brain who lets themselves sink completely from thinking to daydreaming? That person thinks they’ll l climb out again easily, and tells themselves that it’s the same thing after all. Thinking is the labor of the intellect, daydreaming is its sensual pleasure. To replace thinking with daydreaming is to confound poison with food. …The slack mind cannot tightly embrace life. (708)

“The soul that loves and that suffers has attained the sublime.” (709)

“Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has greater vision?” (728)

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One thought on “Les Misérables: Quotes to Ponder (5)”

  1. Great to see this wisdom from Les Mis – surely the most redemptive musical there is. (We caught the live-cast of the 25th anniversary concert two weeks back – great.)

    I also love the two books I have on the spiritual lessons of Les Mis – ‘To love another person’, and ‘The wisdom of Les Miserables’, and I hope to create a website on this, using the principles of using popular culture as a starting point []



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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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