In Praise of Love

S M Chen
6 min readMar 6, 2023

One of the acknowledged great novels of the 19th (or perhaps any) century is “Les Miserables,” a massive (over 1400 pages) epic historical work published in 1863 by French novelist Victor Hugo. It is widely considered his masterwork.

I was privileged to view (again) the 1980 musical “Les Miserables,” based on the novel, recently on a PBS TV channel.

The musical is one that always speaks to me in a special way.

Maya Angelou (1928–2014) American poet, once observed: “Life is not measured how many breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

I find the musical “Les Miserables” breathtaking. It is that stunning.

Hugo’s protagonist Jean Valjean is, to my mind, a human stand-in for Jesus, albeit one not without sin.

No one in the history of Earth has succeeded in living a sinless life other than one man.

And it took a sui generis man, a hybrid god-man — Jesus — to accomplish that.

I will make some comments below, which I do not consider spoiler alerts. Hugo’s seminal work is in the public domain, and, if you have not read it by now, you may never.

But that doesn’t mean you cannot be familiar with the story.