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Thread: Victor Hugo

  1. #1
    Melinda
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    Victor Hugo

    I understand that there was a lot more wrong in the world back then when Victor Hugo wrote the book, but what I don't understand is why people in this day and age actually read it. I admit I have read it, but only because I wanted to pass English. Books regarded today as "Old Classics" are simply depressing, unrelated pieces of wasted publishing. It is understandable for someone wishing to study life in those eras, or perhaps wishing to delve into the works of a dead author, but for modern day kids being forced to read a book, written back in the 1800's, that does not even relate to modern day society or situations, that, I believe is sad. It is a depressing book, which only highlights what is wrong with the world, both now and then, and I believe that books should be for either entertainment or studying etc. This book, obviously, is not.

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    Melinda,

    To quote: 'Books regarded today as "Old Classics" are simply depressing, unrelated pieces of wasted publishing.'

    I'm struggling to understand what you mean by this. The books you refer to as 'Old Classics' are admired for their literary merits. If you can't recognise that, then your loss. To say that they are 'simply depressing' merely further demonstrates that you are lacking in both experience and literary judgement. I can only assume that you mean some books written before you were born quite often deal with tragedy.

    To say that Hugo's novel does not relate to modern times is incredibly short-sighted. It is a novel about social exclusion, heroism, corruption and redemption, themes which resonate today as much as ever. Just because it refers to a plot outside your personal experience, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the themes it explores. If you go to the cinema, do you only watch films about 'real', modern life? No, you watch films set in the past, in the future, some dealing with tragedy, some comedy, some aliens, some talking animals.

    It is doubtful that Hugo wrote THON-D for study. He wrote it as a piece of art, for 'entertaining' if you like. It's a shame that you feel you were forced to read it, and perhaps that in itself has adversely affected your judgements. I'll tell you what - why don't we collect all the books written before 1900, including the bible, the complete works of shakespeare, and burn them. No loss, eh?

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    I find most classics very entertaining and it is rare that i find a modern book that makes me think and challenges me as much as books like this one does. They may be hard to read sometimes (and believe me, sometime it takes me ages to read them) but i think you really start to know and understand an era more when you delve into the literature of it. There is alot of bad things in this world anyway - it is a depressing place alot of the time but you can be selective of your reading so as to balance out the depression. Maybe read a nice romance after reading the hunchback of notre dame?

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    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    Re: Victor Hugo, So maybe he's not the most accessable writer, translated from the French, but he gets right beside you if you read his memoirs, especially, Chapter 20. His descriptions of incidents during the revolution are realistic to a fault and riviting. I suppose you could infer alot of social/class commentary, the way he describes the Catholic Church of those days and it was corrupt. Still there was sanctuary for all people, even if some of the clerics he described were arrogant and cruel. Read some of the memoirs first; then go on to the novels. quasimodo1

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    Well if thats your opinion, heres mine:
    The book itself has a fantasic plot, and this proves that humanity has the same problems as back then. How many mentally handicapped people are taken advantage of or bullied? Its the same thing in this book. That people who had a problem in some way, maybe it was Esmerelda's roma (gypsy) blood, or Quasimodo's grotesque apperence. But the moral was that anyone that was consider inferior or less was treated cruely. Quasimodo means 'half-full' or 'half-human'. A dark pun on the people of France's view of him. This book does relate to the present, and its a sad thing to admit.

    But I admit that Hugo himself was to busy discribing Notre Dame that he pretty much forgot about the characters. But this still is awesome book, but a bit boring until the plot starts to thicken.

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    Ataraxia bazarov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzzer1 View Post
    A dark pun on the people of France's view of him. This book does relate to the present, and its a sad thing to admit.
    He could put story in Shangai, wouldn't make any difference. He knew Paris well, so he put story in Paris. And some French could be offended...
    At thunder and tempest, At the world's coldheartedness,
    During times of heavy loss And when you're sad
    The greatest art on earth Is to seem uncomplicatedly gay.

    To get things clear, they have to firstly be very unclear. But if you get them too quickly, you probably got them wrong.
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  7. #7
    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    To know Hugo

    Following your conversation on this thread, I feel that V.H. has been given short shrift, especially when you try to view him with twenty-first century eyes. There is a distant mirror there, as Barbara Tuchman would say, and if we don't like the reflection, some will deny the presence of the mirror. This especially relates the the distribution of wealth and the class structure. Also, it is impossible to sense the depth of this author without reading his memoirs. quasimodo1 {one more thing...whoever translated the meaning of the bellringer's name did not get it right}

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    Literature Lover AngelofPhantoms's Avatar
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    I love old classic novels no matter what, it seems. Hugo always has a reason to write as well. He wrote Les Miserables because he wanted to show his political views as well as hold a mirror up to society and show it isn't pretty. Same with Notre Dame de Paris, he wrote it to show how architecture is being left in the dust, how we disregard it completely and embrace other things, among other things. Hugo was one of the greatest minds ever and some view him with a sort of...well, modern day stupidity and miss the point. I congradulate anyone who was smart enough to pick up this book and any classic novel ever written (before the mid 1900's) and enjoy every word of it. Get away from books without a theme and written on impluse and pick up a book like this.

    -Angel of Phantoms
    Last edited by AngelofPhantoms; 03-22-2008 at 07:37 PM.
    "You're my soul come scavenging for me, I can feel it," said the Witch. "I won't have it, I won't have it. I won't have a soul; with a soul there is everlastingness, and life has tortured me enough."
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  9. #9
    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    Victor Hugo

    To AngelofPhantoms: If you like the famous classics by Hugo, you might want to try his Memoirs for a dose of the French Revolution that no other writer reported so realistically. quasimodo1

  10. #10
    Literature Lover AngelofPhantoms's Avatar
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    to quasimodo1

    Thanx for the recommendation! I'll see if I can find them.
    "You're my soul come scavenging for me, I can feel it," said the Witch. "I won't have it, I won't have it. I won't have a soul; with a soul there is everlastingness, and life has tortured me enough."
    -Elphaba to Dorothy in Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

  11. #11
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    @melinda

    The classics you talk about, and books in general, are read because of the messages in them... Books don't only tell a story. Of course it's nice that there is a story in it, otherwise you might as well read opinion pieces in the newspaper, but the story is only the surface. Of course the stories in classics (certainly) are so old that you can't really relate to it, because we don't live in the same times, but the psychology, principles etc. in the book are the same as we in our modern times would write about.
    Hugo's writings are not very accessible and they're certainly not right as on of the first experiences (certainly not if you don't like history), but stamping him as useless... Probably you would be able to make a modern update of this story and you wouldn't notice that the original was written over 100 years ago. If you cannot do that it's a very dated book and that makes it that little bit less qualified to be a classic.

    You need to learn to read. Try it again in a few years, maybe you'll like it then.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

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  12. #12
    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    Relating Hugo to the present era

    While there's no doubt present day students have difficulties getting into the dusty volumes and tomes of other generations, other centuries...there isn't much new about revolution. If some of the Marxists, Leninists or even those involved in the elections of today were more aware of the exigencies, constants and reactionary probabilities, they might have more perspective and therefore more awareness of the population and more skillfull in projecting their ideologies. On a less pragmatic level...this inaccessability factor is not that great. Unfortunately, most of the contemporary experience has been going out for a night of unreality to see "Les Miserables" in an absurd musical format.

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    Tralfamadorian Big Dante's Avatar
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    It seems somebody does not enjoy 'unnecessary' thinking.

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