I have been reading Les Miserables for the first time recently. Which is odd, as Lady P could tell you about the strange obsession I have with the cheesy musical when drunk, and the stature of Victor Hugo as a writer commends it straight away…
… possibly, like many of those classic books you meant to read sometime, it just slipped my mind. So far, it is simply phenomenal, and I just wanted to quote a little passage that seems to apply now as it did when first published;
“…success is an ugly thing. Men are deceived by its false resemblances to merit. To the crowd, success wears almost the features of true mastery, and the greatest dupe of this counterfeit talent is History. Juvenal and Tacitus alone mistrust it. In these days an almost official philosophy has come to dwell in the house of Success, wear its livery, receive its callers in its ante-chamber. Success in principle and for its own sake. Prosperity presupposes ability. Win a lottery prize and you are a clever man. Winners are adulated …
…they call a painted face beauty and a richly attired figure majesty.They confound the brilliance of the firmament with the star shaped footprints of a duck in the mud.”
Les Miserables,Part One, Book One, Chapter Twelve. Victor Hugo 1862
If you haven’t read this novel, then I should point out that that this first book deals with “An upright man” – the Bishop of Digne, an honest, modest, thoughtful Christian Gentleman, pivotal to the story. In these chapters, Hugo expounds upon the difference between being successful in this world, and being good. In his view, it is the latter that should be lauded to the skies. It is a refreshing change from our own mainstream media today, imagine the pages of Hello filled with genuinely good people… not easy is it?
Hmm, step forward Sir Philip Green, Simon Cowell, David Cameron, Boris Johnson et al – you were first identified back in 1862. By a Frenchman who was spurned by his countries’ literary establishment, but loved by the people.