|Portrait of "Cosette" by Emile Bayard, from the original edition of Les Misérables (1862)|
Still, many people today will learn the story only through the musical. Those of us who love this musical are quite die hard about it, as you can tell from my post titled "My Year With Les Mis." (For more with a dose of realism, also see P.S. Les Mis, Paris Texas style ). Many have seen movies, but with few exceptions they do not do it justice. There was a TV miniseries of it that I watched in highschool, that was the only screen encounter of it that I ever liked, until I saw it on Christmas Day.
Here it is -- it is pretty dated, but it is the most true to the book that I have encountered.
What have I done? Sweet Jesus, what have I done? Become a thief in the night Become a dog on the run And have I fallen so far And is the hour so late That nothing remains but the cry of my hate . . . Yet why did I allow that man To touch my soul and teach me love? He treated me like any other He gave me his trust He called me brother My life he claims for God above Can such things be? . . . One word from him and I'd be back Beneath the lash, upon the rack Instead he offers me my freedom, I feel my shame inside me like a knife He told me that I have a soul, How does he know? What spirit came to move my life? Is there another way to go?
Yes. There is, for all of us. I like to be reminded of this, because I get world weary and cynical. And I don't think it is just because I am a lawyer, I think we all do, it is just life. So these words renew my hope. My hope in myself and in my fellow man. P.S. -- Just for fun, here is an interview with Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, about playing the Bishop in the musical.