I've promised myself that I'm finally going to finish reading the unabridged version of Les Miserables and I'm almost done. I'm in awe of Victor Hugo and The Hunchback of Notre Dame is definitely now on the "to read" list.
I am particularly touched by the wedding toast of M. Gillenormand (Marius' grandfather) to Marius and Cosette and share bits of it with you here.
"Listen to me; I am going to give you a piece of advice: Adore one another. I don't make a heap of flourishes, I go to the end, be happy. The only sages in creation are the turtle-doves. The philosophers say: Moderate your joys. I say: Give them rein. Be enamoured like devils. Be rabid. The philosophers dote. I would like to cram their philosophy back into their throats. Can there be too many perfumes, too many open rosebuds, too many nightingales singing, too many green leaves, too much aurora in life? can you love each other too much? can you please each other too much? ... The rare absurdity! Can you enchant each other too much, pet each other too much, charm each other too much? can you be too much alive? can you be too happy? Moderate your joys. Ah pshaw! Down with the philosophers! Wisdom is jubilation. Jubilate, jubilate. Are we happy because we are good: or are we good because we are happy? ... Be happy without quibbling. Obey the sun blindly. What is the sun? It is love. Who says love, says woman. Ah, ha! There is an omnipotence; it is woman. Ask this demagogue of a Marius if he be not the slave of this little tyrant of a Cosette, and with his full consent, the coward. Woman! There is no Robespierre who holds out, woman reigns ... What is Adam? He is the realm of Eve ... At heart you must always love women. I defy you to get away from that. These devilesses are our angels. Yes, love, woman, the kiss, that is a circle which I defy you to get out of ... Which of you has seen rising into the infinite, calming all beneath her, gazing upon the waves like woman, the star Venus, the great coquette of the abyss, the Celimene of the ocean? The ocean is rude Alceste. Well, he scolds in vain; Venus appears, he is obliged to smile. That brute submits. We are all so. Wrath, tempest, thunderbolts, foam to the sky. A woman enters the scene, a star rises; flat on your face! ... Yes Marius, yes Cosette, you are right. Live boldly for one another, my-love one another, make us die with rage that we cannot do as much, idolatrise each other..."
M. Guillenormand continues like this for pages. It makes my heart ache and inspires me to love My Love with such abandon. Hope it inspires the same in you, my dears.