Right now we are in the middle of introducing the character of Monseigneur Bienvenu, bishop of Digne. This is a long, drawn-out process which takes up no less than all of the first 14 chapters of Les Miserables.
We started out by looking at Monseigneur Bienvenu’s personal history prior to becoming bishop of Digne, we looked at how he went about his business as bishop, and then we looked at a couple of telling incidents in his life, one in which he went to visit some parishioners in a far-flung part of his diocese and had to pass through bandit-infested mountains to get there, and one in which he went to visit a dying pariah who was ostracized by the people of Digne because he had served as a revolutionary conventionist during the French Revolution. This visit with the conventionist G—- was a highly emotional encounter which would prove to be a defining moment in Monseigneur Bienvenu’s life.
This leaves us with four chapters to take us to the end of Book One, and we will attempt to breeze through these in relatively short order. This should be easy, since the action returns to a leisurely pace for the next four chapters. Get used to this; this is a pattern which you will see throughout the remainder of Les Miserables–the alternation of highly dramatic passages with less intense, informative passages. Continue reading “Les Miserables 6: The Solitude of Monseigneur Bienvenu”