Les Misérables, Quotes from Part Two: Cosette

May I say that I thoroughly enjoyed the wandering Waterloo section? I only knew the rudiments of this history and was happy to learn more details. The battle observations astonished me.

Ruins often acquire the dignity of monuments.

There is no logic in the flow of blood.

They rode steadily, menacingly, imperturbably,
the thunder of their horses resounding
in the intervals of musket and cannon-fire.
[The 3 syllable-4 syllable-5 syllable cadence of adverbs ignites me.]

A disintegrating army is like the thawing of a glacier,
a mindless, jostling commotion,
total disruption.

…to incarnate irony at the mouth of the grave,
staying erect when prostrate

War has tragic splendours which we have not sought to conceal,
but it also has its especial squalors,
among which is the prompt stripping of the bodies of the dead.
The day following a battle always dawns on naked corpses.

She did all the work of the house, beds, rooms, washing and cooking;
she was the climate of the place, its fine and foul weather…

Darkness afflicts the soul.
Mankind needs light.
To be cut off from the day is to know a shrinking of the heart.
Where the eye sees darkness the spirit sees dismay.

…the haggard gleam of terror…

A doll is among the most pressing needs
as well as the most charming instincts of feminine childhood.
To care for it, adorn it, dress and undress it, give it lessons,
scold it a little, put it to bed and sing it to sleep,
pretend that the object is a living person—all the future of women resides in this.
Dreaming and murmuring, tending, cossetting, sewing small garments,
the child grows into girlhood,
from girlhood into womanhood,
from womanhood into wifehood,
and the first baby is the successor of the last doll.
A little girl without a doll is nearly as deprived
and quite as unnatural as a woman without a child.
So Cosette made her sword into a doll.

Like all children,
like the tendrils of a vine reaching for something to cling to,
she had looked for love,
but she had not found it.

Paris is a whirlpool in which all things can be lost,
sucked into that navel of the earth
like flotsam into the navel of the sea.

…this hubbub of little girls, sweeter than the humming of bees…

To appear at once troubled and controlled in moments of crisis
is the especial quality of certain characters and certain callings,
notably priests and members of religious communities.

Laughter is a sun that drives out winter from the human face.



Quotes from Part One: Fantine


4 thoughts on “Les Misérables, Quotes from Part Two: Cosette

  1. I love that you notice the 3-4-5 syllable style…something I would totally miss.  Do you think Hugo/others do this intentionally?  I cannot imagine being that purposeful in my word choice.And this phrase, “I thoroughly enjoyed the wandering Waterloo section”?  You are amazing, Carol…the first person I have ever heard who liked it.  I know those who have READ it, but LIKED it?  No.  You’re the best, Carol!Have you finished?  I await your commentary on the Paris sewer system (-:Di

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