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Classical Conversations Program(s): Foundations, Scribblers
Correlating Cycle(s): 2
Victor Hugo wrote in his classic Les Misérables, Book 5, Chapter 4: “God is behind everything, but everything hides God,”
I don’t know if you have seen either the stage musical or the movie rendition of Victor Hugo’s immortal classic Les Misérables (an epic story of redemption set in Paris after the French Revolution) but I have never seen a production that more clearly illustrates the saving grace of God and the change that can be had for anyone willing to accept it.
Jean Valjean is convicted of stealing a loaf of bread and sentenced to the French penal system for five years. He tries to escape many times, but is always caught, and his sentence is extended through his own stubbornness. When he is finally released, he must carry a passport that identifies him as a thief and a felon and therefore can find no respite no matter where he travels.
He is encouraged to try one more door, which unbeknownst to him, belongs to a Catholic Bishop, who provides him dinner and the best room for the night. Jean reverts to what he believes about himself, that he is a thief, steals the silver plate and silverware, and flees.
Caught with the stolen goods the next day, he is remanded to the Bishop, who asks him why he didn’t take the silver candlesticks too, pretending to the magistrates that the silver settings were a gift. Jean cannot understand how such grace could be imputed to him, why God would forgive him, and struggles with his old self before finally deciding to repay the kindness of the Bishop, and therefore God himself, by sanctifying his life in good works.
Along the way he is pursued by the evil Chauvert, a detective who believes he knows Jean, now renamed and reinvented as a business owner and mayor of a small town. Jean continues to sacrifice himself, his wealth, his personal safety, and his very life in service to others less fortunate than himself, and dies much loved by those he cares for and about.
The book itself is over 800 hundred pages long and would take forever for me to record, so no, I’m not announcing an unabridged recording of this book!
What I would like you to consider though is this 1937 Old Time Radio Show dramatization, written, produced, and performed by none other than the incomparable Orson Wells, of “War of the Worlds” fame. The story of the book is faithfully retold (with questionable subjects carefully camouflaged) and is suitable for students aged 10 and older.
This live recording, masterfully performed by an incredible professional cast, includes sound effects, music, and an unforgettable story. You will not be disappointed.
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