Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Such Thing as Too Much Coincidence

Today at work I realized at the very the end of the day that I had a hole in my pants. High on the inside of the left leg, up near the crotch, not visible (I asked) but big enough to be embarrassing. Don't know when it appeared; I recall that since around lunchtime I'd wondered vaguely how I'd sat in water because I felt a little chill. These pants, as I figure it, are at least 10 years old and possibly 20. Back when pants lasted I bought them. There's no replacing them now. Now that they are rags, in which I sat (unwittingly) at work and read the chapters re-introducing the now destitute Thenardiers; although that name is being withheld by Victor Hugo to protect the dignity of the novel's construction. I'm wondering: was it, is it, the wild role coincidence plays in Les Misérables that has (apparently) kept it off college syllabi? When Léon in Rouen runs into Emma and Charles at the opera, that's nicely done, classy, sophisticated. When it transpires that Marius has been living next door to and even at one point paying back rent for the Thenardiers--whom he has spent all the spare resources he has upon seeking in distant towns so he can thank the father for having saved his father at Waterloo (hah!)--and he's in love with the girl who was the child they once abused; but she's gone now, and the daughters once so favored by fortune and their mother have turned hoyden and worse, entering his small quarters in all kinds of ragged undress, arousing his pity, his aching pity--and mine, and anyone's who can read it as something other than a great comeuppance for their former cruelty, although it's that as well--when, I mean, major characters turn out to have been sharing a connecting wall (with a peek hole in it no less) inside the same dwelling where two other major characters once lived, then certain judgements might perceive a surfeit of things too improbable too neatly done, at least for serious readers.

But I don't.

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