Sunday, 19 October 2008

Book of the Week - The Glums

Victor Hugo, blah, classic of western literature, blah, magnificent characterization, blah, blah, historical detail, blah-de-fucking-blah. Great story.

He said to himself that it was true then, that there were exceptions, that authority might be put out of countenance, that rule might stop short before a fact, that everything was not framed in the text of the code, that the unforeseen would be obeyed, that the virtue of a convict might spread a snare for the virtue of a functionary, that the monstrous might be divine, that destiny had such ambuscades as these, and he thought with despair that even he had not been proof against a surprise.

He was compelled to recognize the existence of kindness. This convict had been kind. And he himself wonderful to tell, he had just been kind. Therefore he had become depraved.

He thought himself base. He was a horror to himself.

Javert's ideal was not to be humane, not to be great, not to be sublime, it was to be irreproachable. Now he had just failed.


Ana said...

The greatest review ever!

Stan said...

Dear Matt:

I have not read this particular book, but your review was so good and inspired that I want to read the Book now.
I know reviewing books is time consuming, but you are very good at it Matt! Just a little note and reminder to consider in the future!

You’re Bloggery Friend,

Radagast said...

ana, stan: Cheers, guys! You'd like this, Stan: Hugo's got a knack of saying something about the human condition. He seems to be aware that nobody, not even Javert (who was a bit of an arse, but not malicious, nor vindictive), is one-dimensional.

This seems like such an obvious thing to say, but how many Hollywood blockbusters have we seen, where the bad guy wears a black hat, nicks old ladies' handbags, and kicks puppies, in every scene?! Try writing a story of this nature, where nobody's evil - I know I couldn't.

Anyway, I like succinct, mostly because I'm too fucking lazy to write a detailed account! I'll try to lob one out more often, if not regularly, but I'm making no promises.


Ana said...

I was serious!
I have a degree in Literature, yes! can you imagine that?, and reviews are terrible.
I've done three of this things back in 1987 for a cultural supplement of one of our newspapers, one of them was about "The Ice Age" by Margaret Drabble. I've stop it.
I felt terrible having to read and "judge" the work of someone I had never read before.
Some people should do exactly what you did.
"I like succinct, mostly because I'm too fucking lazy to write"
You know who said this once?
Jorge Luis Borges on an interview.