As most people are aware, one of the top films showing at this time is an adaptation of the classic novel by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables. One of the most acclaimed novels of the 19th century, it has been adapted many times over the years in a number of venues for public performance.
Why should a very lengthy novel written so many years ago have any appeal at all to audiences in 2013? Where is the relevance? Victor Hugo answered this question, I believe, in his preface to the book:
So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.
There can be no argument that "ignorance and misery remain on earth" in 2013. The very title of the novel, Les Misérables, can be translated as The Miserable, The Wretched, The Miserable Ones, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims. Can one escape the lot in life to which one is born? Can a sinner achieve redemption, or do past actions keep the sinner in a "wretched" state?
The theme of Les Misérables is universal and current which is why the novel is a classic.
In our time, few people will undertake the reading of lengthy novels, although ones such as Les Misérables are available for free on line. I am sure that not a few students if ever assigned to read it would resort instead to reading Cliff's Notes in lieu of reading the novel itself. To be fair, we do live busy, hectic lives, and people look to save time whenever they can.
There is, of course, the stage play, but that is not something we have access to whenever we want it. The current movie may be beyond the reach of some people financially at this time as well. Many people today lack even the transportation to get to a movie theater.
Great literature needs to be accessible to all regardless of financial circumstances. That's why I have begun the process of making the Les Misérables radio adaptation by Orson Welles available on this site.
I believe the 7-part radio broadcast of Les Misérables done by Welles in 1937 was one of radios finest achievements. I hope you agree.
This first episode is called "The Bishop." While I have provided a few pictures to accompany the presentation, I would like to suggest that you listen to the program as other listeners did when it was first broadcast over three quarters of a century ago. Sit back in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes and listen.
If I receive some positive reaction to this, I will then take the time to make the 6 other videos to complete the Les Misérables presentation.
Each segment is 30 minutes long. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have. Happy listening.