I am looking forward to seeing Les Miserables this weekend. For years, I’ve enjoyed the music. But even better than the musical is Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. No movie or musical can do justice to the beauty of the book.

I recommend Julie Rose’s translation of Les Miserables. I read the more common English translation a few years ago and enjoyed it (the story is a classic, after all), but Rose’s translation is like going from a black-and-white television to color. Here are my ten favorite quotes from the book:

“He did not study God, he was dazzled by Him.” (48)

“Indigestion was invented by God to force morality on stomachs.” (115)

On the virtuous: “Their lives have a sequel.” (153)

“Good thoughts have their bottomless pits just as bad ones do.” (365)

“Joy is the backward surge of terror.” (463)

“All the crimes of the man begin in the straying of the child.” (482)

“Many great deeds are performed in the small struggles of life.” (560)

“The peculiarity of the sun rising is to make us laugh at all our terrors of the night, and the laugh we have is always in proportion to the fear we have had.” (765)

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable spelled out sparkles.” (810)

“The mind expands when you are close to the grave; to be close to death makes you see things as they really are.” (924)

“Dying is nothing; what’s terrible is not to live.” (1490)

(See firstsecondthirdfourthfifth, sixth, and seventh posts with quotes from Les Miserables.)

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4 thoughts on “My 10 Favorite Quotes from Les Misérables”

  1. Gary Ware says:

    Conceding that all the dialogue in the movie is songs, I don’t think any of those quotes are represented in the movie.
    Keep an ear out for them, I’d quite happily stand corrected.

  2. Steve Perkins says:

    I am 4/5th of the way through Julie Rose’s translation and it is indeed a very colorful work and worth the reading commitment. There is a great Victor Hugo quote that I noticed etched in a statue outside the California Science Center in Los Angeles. I was pleased a few days ago in my reading to find it was from Les Miserables:

    “Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?”

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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