So, I’ve decided to share a couple of thoughts after having read and analyzed a bit Victor Hugo’s novel "Quatrevingt-treize".
What is this novel about? Well, there are so many problems in every book by Hugo that trying to describe the plot in a nutshell is - you know - to plough the sand. It is about the fate of one human and of the whole nation. It is about the hierarchy of basic personal values and the destructive power of the crowd captured by the idea everybody perceives differently. It is about the confrontation of what Freud would call the instinct of death (the death drive which can be seen in the movement of the royal soldiers in Bretagne and in de Lantenac’s actions) and the revolution which symbolizes further progress and development in the French society.
I personally enjoyed the written portraits of Robespierre, Danton, Marat and other historic figures. I do realize they are mostly a product of Hugo imagination after reading some primary sources but let’s admit it - the scene of the former three quarreling is an artistic masterpiece. And now it is definitely in my top 5 favorite chapters from different Hugo’s works, which includes his philosophical chapter about the prayer, the chapter “Oreste à jeun et Pylade ivre”, “Quel horizon on voit du haut de la barricade” - all these from “Les miserables”, and one which describes the history of Paris from his “Notre Dame de Paris”.
I do not want to write about everything I’ve figured out for myself from this book. Finally, everybody has his own impression. The last thing I want to mention is the scene in the end, where Gauvain listens silently to his uncle Lantenac who believes in olds principles, defends traditional society and does not think the revolution will be able to bring a better life after leaving all those people bleed from the civil war. And after that speech Gauvain just sets his uncle - in fact, his foe - free; it’s obvious: Hugo thinks that life is not the matter of political beliefs. Our life is about our consciousness and ability to stay merciful. To stay a human. To stay a personality and act the way we feel is right.
This scene is quite similar to one from the Dostoevsky’s work “The Brothers Karamazov” where Ivan Karamazov tells his brother Alyosha about his poem “The Grand Inquisitor”. And you can definitely see this parallel between the Inquizitor-Jesus and Gauvain-Lantenac lines.
I hope this was a good piece of food for thought. Overall, these are just some ideas I wanted to write about. And - of course - I do recommend reading this novel. You will not regret, I promise.