Readers’ least favourite chapter of Les Misérables is L’année 1817 (The year 1817). It has nothing to do with the plot and is just an incoherent miscellany of events, fashions, vanities, absurdities and personalities of the year in question, written from Victor Hugo’s memory 40 years later.
The details must have mattered deeply at the time but none is remembered today. Some are too obscure even to have been recorded by anyone except him.
Which begs the question: what will a 15-year-old novelist remember of this past year when he looks back in 2057? Will his memories mean anything to a reader in 2217?
This should put everything we have just lived through in perspective: presidents, elections, negotiations, separatist movements, media obsessions and Twitter diatribes. Will they be of lasting significance? And if not, what will prove of enduring importance to the people of the future?
Now there’s a good Christmas game for the family...