- While the Dakota Indians fought the United States army and Minnesota settlers in 1862 over the right to live in their homeland, to feed their families and to worship the Creator, on the other side of the world author Victor Hugo finished penning Les Misérables (literally "The Miserable Ones"; French pronunciation: [le mizeʁabl(ə)]). Happy 25th Anniversary to the Broadway musical! Widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century, Les Mis follows the lives and interactions of several French characters over a seventeen-year period in the early nineteenth century, starting in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion.
- One hundred and fifty years later in the summer of 1982, as a self-professed "junior high library addict," I read this historical fiction for the first time...which is what inspired me to take French in school... and to read Alexandre Dumas, (the Count of Monte Cristo is still on my favorite list)... Right on the shelf next to the "Three Musketeers" series were novels by Albert Camus, (a Nobel Laureate 1957 in literature), including "The Plague" which piqued my interest in medicine, epidemiology and disaster relief all those years ago. My vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds as I "hung out" with these literary giants. As a teen I loved being outside during the peak of the day and curling up at night with a new library novel while the warm Saint Louis summer breeze blew through my bedroom window.
Les Misérables focuses on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption. It is rich with French history, politics, romance, moral philosophy, justice, religion. It was also in the summer of 1982 when I began collecting quotes in my journals and here are some of my favorites from Victor Hugo:
"An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come."