Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Booknapper's Code of Ethics

"There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees."

Victor Hugo

I saw this quote on the Interwebs this morning on one of my many quote of the day feeds, and I fell in literary love as I often do. The quote was attributed to Victor Hugo and copied all over the place, but no one said what work it was from.

The editor in me is annoyed. What if it wasn't Hugo at all? What if it was Napoleon or Mussolini? It matters. Words are important. That's why you're here.

Anyway, I visited my favorite virtual place (aside from Booknapped) and scanned Les Miserables and there was the quote in a love letter from Marius to Cosette.

Something else I learned? Hugo says "There are moments when..." quite a bit. We all have our little stylistic turns of phrase, no? My beta tells me I say "then" a lot. She means too much, but she's being nice, and I appreciate that.

Anyway, I got sucked into Les Miserables and I time traveled to my childhood when my father took me to see the play at the Walnut Theatre in Philadelphia, and made me read the book first. Made me research Victor Hugo at the library. Took me out to dinner and made me talk about the differences between the book and the musical.

The Booknapper was born.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Go to Gutenberg and read a book or even part of a book. Think of the long line of writers, and innovators, and individuals who made possible reading classics online free. Think of your own words and how you labor and agonize over each one. They should be read, and they should be attributed.

Booknapping is human. Giving credit is divine.


  1. That is such a great quote. I probably do need to read Les Mis. It's my favorite musical, but I've never read the real thing.

  2. I love the Hugo quote. Did you ever figure out if he actually wrote it? I've had a couple times when I've listened to a speaker "quote" someone and I've known it was misquoted--drives me nuts. Les Mis has been on my "to read" list since my junior year in high school. I think it's probably time to pick it up.

  3. Nat,

    He wrote it, but I wanted to know what it was from and nobody said where it came from. It was in Les Miserables, so Hugo definitely wrote it.

    You can read all of Les Miserables for free at Project Gutenberg! I read a few chapters this morning, and it was just as engaging as I remember. Hugo wins the award for best character development ever in the history of human beings and - what the hell - dinosaurs too.