Just seen now the Les Misérables ( the movie, it is beautiful ) and i think of this great book and the incredible ideas in it that fascinate us century and a half and more later. The idea that man is born free, that thought is important, that the rights of peoples are important, that having Monarchs rule over peoples is idiotic, and that examining civilization from a moral perspective is a noble pursuit.
The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details … a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end.
I don’t know whether it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone. It addresses England as well as Spain, Italy as well as France, Germany as well as Ireland, the republics that harbour slaves as well as empires that have serfs. Social problems go beyond frontiers. Humankind’s wounds, those huge sores that litter the world, do not stop at the blue and red lines drawn on maps. Wherever men go in ignorance or despair, wherever women sell themselves for bread, wherever children lack a book to learn from or a warm hearth, Les Miserables knocks at the door and says: “open up, I am here for you”.
Waterloo, by cutting short the demolition of European thrones by the sword, had no other effect than to cause the revolutionary work to be continued in another direction. The slashers have finished; it was the turn of the thinkers. The century that Waterloo was intended to arrest has pursued its march. That sinister victory was vanquished by liberty.
thank God I can read.
Imagine having to spend a life as a slave, having never learned about the world, the great noble things in it, never read a decent book or seen a great painting, never learned about science or the planets, never created anything beautiful or meaningful, having to serve soup to people who treat you badly. oh my.