VICTOR HUGO AT THE BARRICADES (SPOILER ALERT). Les Miserables is a great musical. Several of the great scenes take place at a barricade that some students have erected in the uprising of 1832. The musical and Hugo’s book are sympathetic to the students, except for questioning the foolishness of their endeavor. In the London Review of Books (May 4, 2017), Tim Parks reviews THE NOVEL OF THE CENTURY, a book about LES MISERABLES by David Bellos, and presents an interesting biographical analysis of Hugo (link via arts and letters daily).
Hugo was elected to the National Assembly in 1848. The monarchy had collapsed and students and workers went to the barricades. Hugo went to the barricades and demanded that they be taken down. The rebels refused. Hugo ordered the National Guard to open fire. Parks writes: “For three tumultuous days and at great personal risk, Hugo, unasked, led government attacks on the barricades. ‘He was a dutiful man,’ Bellos remarks. Hugo’s biographer Graham Robb puts it more brutally. ‘This means that [Hugo] was directly responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of workers.’”