Les Misérables (Penguin Classics)

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Overview

Victor Hugo
Les MisÉrables

Translated by Charles E. Wilbour
Abridged, edited and with an introduction by Paul Bénichou

Published simultaneously in nine languages in 1862, Les MiséRables is a vast tapestry set against the chaos of post-Napoleonic France. A cast of hundreds is woven into the epic story of the ex-convict Jean Valjean and his valiant struggle to redeem himself. A...

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Les Misérables

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Overview

Victor Hugo
Les MisÉrables

Translated by Charles E. Wilbour
Abridged, edited and with an introduction by Paul Bénichou

Published simultaneously in nine languages in 1862, Les MiséRables is a vast tapestry set against the chaos of post-Napoleonic France. A cast of hundreds is woven into the epic story of the ex-convict Jean Valjean and his valiant struggle to redeem himself. A potent social document of the poverty, ignorance, and brutality of man, Les MiséRables is also a rousing adventure and a passionate parable of love. Here, Victor Hugo displays his skills as a dramatist and poet, and shows his deeply felt compassion for all mankind.

Pocket Books' Enriched Classics present the great works of world literature enhanced for the contemporary reader. This edition of Les MiséRables contains the original introduction by Hugo scholar and Harvard professor Paul Bénichou, as well as his accomplished abridgment.

Trying to forget his past and live an honest life, escaped convict Jean Valjean risks his freedom to take care of a motherless young girl during a period of political unrest in Paris.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
As part of the "Bullseye Step into Classics" series, this book offers young readers a simplified version of the classic tale of the haunted and hunted man relentlessly pursued by the unforgiving police inspector. The opening scenes of the story, depicting the desperate poverty that drives Jean Valjean to steal a loaf of bread and, after his release from prison, to treat his benefactor dishonestly, are passed over quickly in narrative form and don't engage the reader on an emotional level. However, once Jean Valjean rescues Cosette from a terrible life and takes her as his daughter, the story becomes more and more compelling. This version will hold the interest of young readers and it is to be hoped that, when they are a few years older, they will search out the original masterpiece and become immersed in the drama of Jean Valjean, the hunted and Inspector Javert, the hunter. 1995, Random House, $3.99. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Carolyn Mott Ford
Library Journal
Hugo's classic tale set against the backdrop of political upheaval in 19th-century France retains its timeless appeal in this notably condensed rendition of the struggles of former convict Jean Valjean. While the abridgment inevitably cuts many of the intricate subplots and minor characters who enrich Hugo's vast tome, this suspenseful central plot tracing Valjean's endeavor to emerge from desperate circumstances while being pursued by the duty-obsessed Inspector Javert remains intact and comprehensible to listeners. The principal characters retain their epic proportions, and the major themes of redemption through good works and the importance of authentic charity are undiminished. Narrator Michael York adds vigor and distinct characterizations to the broad cast of characters in this fittingly dramatic performance. Suitable for collections that do not already contain one of the many audio versions of this work (e.g., Audio Reviews, LJ 5/1/93).--Linda Bredengerd, Hanley Lib., Univ. of Pittsburgh, Bradford
Kirkus Reviews
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (40 pp.; Sept. 1997; 0-531- 30055-2): A storybook retelling of Hugo's classic of the lonely bellringer and his hopeless love for the beautiful gypsy girl, Esmerelda, whom he rescues from hanging and the evil archdeacon Dom Frollo and reunites with her mother. While remaining relatively faithful to the original, this version from Wynne- Jones (The Maestro, 1996, etc.) is always competent, but never compelling. Slavin creates lovely illustrations, but his pale washes leave even the most festive scenes sedate. The volume lacks power or emotion; adults seeking an alternative—any alternative—to the Disney film may find that this one hardly competes for the hearts and minds of the target audience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451520821
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/3/1987
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
"If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away," the larger-than-life Victor Hugo once confessed. Indeed, this 19th-century French master's works -- from the epic drama Les Misérables to the classic unrequited love story The Hunchback of Notre Dame -- have spanned the ages, their themes of morality and redemption ever applicable to our times.

Biography

Novelist, poet, dramatist, essayist, politician, and leader of the French Romantic movement from 1830 on, Victor-Marie Hugo was born in Besançon, France, on February 26, 1802. Hugo's early childhood was turbulent: His father, Joseph-Léopold, traveled as a general in Napoléon Bonaparte's army, forcing the family to move frequently. Weary of this upheaval, Hugo's mother, Sophie, separated from her husband and settled in Paris. Victor's brilliance declared itself early in the form of illustrations, plays, and nationally recognized verse. Against his mother's wishes, the passionate young man fell in love and secretly became engaged to Adèle Foucher in 1819. Following the death of his mother, and self-supporting thanks to a royal pension granted for his first book of odes, Hugo wed Adèle in 1822.

In the 1820s and 1830s, Victor Hugo came into his own as a writer and figurehead of the new Romanticism, a movement that sought to liberate literature from its stultifying classical influences. His 1827 preface to the play Cromwell proclaimed a new aesthetic inspired by Shakespeare, based on the shock effects of juxtaposing the grotesque with the sublime. The great success of Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) confirmed Hugo's primacy among the Romantics.

By 1830 the Hugos had four children. Exhausted from her pregnancies and her husband's insatiable sexual demands, Adèle began to sleep alone, and soon fell in love with Hugo's best friend, the critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve. They began an affair. The Hugos stayed together as friends, and in 1833 Hugo met the actress Juliette Drouet, who would remain his primary mistress until her death 50 years later.

Personal tragedy pursued Hugo relentlessly. His jealous brother Eugène went permanently insane following Victor's wedding to Adèle. His daughter, Léopoldine, together with her unborn child and her devoted husband, died at 19 in a boating accident on the Seine. Hugo never fully recovered from this loss.

Political ups and downs ensued as well, following the shift of Hugo's early royalist sympathies toward liberalism during the late 1820s. He first held political office in 1843, and as he became more engaged in France's social troubles, he was elected to the Constitutional Assembly following the February Revolution of 1848. After Napoléon III's coup d'état in 1851, Hugo's open opposition created hostilities that ended in his flight abroad from the new government.

Declining at least two offers of amnesty -- which would have meant curtailing his opposition to the Empire -- Hugo remained in exile in the Channel Islands for 19 years, until the fall of Napoléon III in 1870. Meanwhile, the seclusion of the islands enabled Hugo to write some of his most famous verse as well as Les Misérables (1862). When he returned to Paris, the country hailed him as a hero. Hugo then weathered, within a brief period, the siege of Paris, the institutionalization of his daughter Adèle for insanity, and the death of his two sons. Despite this personal anguish, the aging author remained committed to political change. He became an internationally revered figure who helped to preserve and shape the Third Republic and democracy in France. Hugo's death on May 22, 1885, generated intense national mourning; more than two million people joined his funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon, where he was buried.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Good To Know

Hugo was seen by his fans as a grand, larger-than-life character -- and rumors spread that he could eat half an ox in one sitting, fast for three days, and then work without stopping for a week.

Hugo owned a pet cat named Gavroche -- the name of one of the primary characters in Les Misérables.

The longest sentence ever written in literature is in Les Misérables; depending on the translation, it consists of about 800 words.

When Hugo published Les Misérables, he was on holiday. After not hearing anything about its reception for a few days, Hugo sent a telegram to his publisher, reading, simply:

"?"

The complete reply from the publisher:

"!"

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    1. Also Known As:
      Victor-Marie Hugo
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 26, 1802
    2. Place of Birth:
      Besançon, France
    1. Date of Death:
      May 22, 1885
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Read an Excerpt

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilisation, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age--the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night--are not yet solved; as long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless. Hauteville House, 1862.


1815, M. Charles Franois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of D----. He was a man of seventy-five, and had occupied the bishopric of D---- since 1806. Although it in no manner concerns, even in the remotest degree, what we have to relate, it may not be useless, were it only for the sake of exactness in all things, to notice here the reports and gossip which had arisen on his account from the time of his arrival in the diocese.

Be it true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence upon their lives, and especially upon their destinies, as what they do.

M. Myriel was the son of a counsellor of the Parlement of Aix; of the rank given to the legal profession. His father, intending him to inherit his place, had contracted a marriage for him at the early age of eighteen or twenty, according to a widespread custom among parliamentary families. Charles Myriel, notwithstanding this marriage, had, it was said, been an object of much attention. His person was admirably moulded; although of slight figure, he was elegant andgraceful; all the earlier part of his life had been devoted to the world and to its pleasures. The revolution came, events crowded upon each other; the parliamentary families, decimated, hunted, and pursued, were soon dispersed. M. Charles Myriel, on the first outbreak of the revolution, emigrated to Italy. His wife died there of a lung complaint with which she had been long threatened. They had no children. What followed in the fate of M. Myriel? The decay of the old French society, the fall of his own family, the tragic sights of '93, still more fearful, perhaps, to the exiles who beheld them from afar, magnified by fright--did these arouse in him ideas of renunciation and of solitude? Was he, in the midst of one of the reveries or emotions which then consumed his life, suddenly attacked by one of those mysterious and terrible blows which sometimes overwhelm, by smiting to the heart, the man whom public disasters could not shake, by aiming at life or fortune? No one could have answered; all that was known was that when he returned from Italy he was a priest.

In 1804, M. Myriel was cure of B----(Brignolles). He was then an old man, and lived in the deepest seclusion.

Near the time of the coronation, a trifling matter of business belonging to his curacy--what it was, is not now known precisely--took him to Paris.

Among other personages of authority he went to Cardinal Fesch on behalf of his parishioners.

One day, when the emperor had come to visit his uncle, the worthy cure, who was waiting in the ante-room, happened to be on the way of his Majesty. Napoleon noticing that the old man looked at him with a certain curiousness, turned around and said brusquely:

'Who is this goodman who looks at me?'
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Table of Contents

Introduction 7
Part 1 Fantine
I An Upright Man 19
II The Outcast 71
III In the Year 1817 119
IV To Trust is Sometimes to Surrender 144
V Degradation 155
VI Javert 191
VII The Champmathieu Affair 202
VIII Counter-Stroke 260
Part 2 Cosette
I Waterloo 279
II The Ship Orion 325
III Fulfilment of a Promise 338
IV The Gorbeau Tenement 385
V Hunt in Darkness 399
VI Le Petit-Picpus 425
VIII Cemeteries Take What They are Given 451
Part 3 Marius
I Paris in Microcosm 495
II A Grand Bourgeois 512
III Grandfather and Grandson 522
IV The ABC Society 555
V The Virtues of Misfortune 584
VI Conjunction of Two Stars 603
VII Patron-Minette 619
VIII The Noxious Poor 627
Part 4 The Idyll in the Rue Plumet and the Epic of the Rue Saint-Denis
I A Few Pages of History 705
II Eponine 739
III The House in the Rue Plumet 756
IV Help from Below May be Help from above 788
V Of Which the End Does Not Resemble the Beginning 797
VI The Boy Gavroche 812
VIII Enchantment and Despair 844
IX Where are They Going? 876
X 5 June 1832 883
XI The Straw in the Wind 904
XII Corinth 915
XIII Marius Enters the Darkness 943
XIV The Greatness of Despair 953
XV In the Rue de L'Homme-Arme 970
Part 5 Jean Valjean
I War within Four Walls 987
II The Entrails of the Monster 1061
III Mire, But the Soul 1076
IV Javert in Disarray 1104
V Grandson and Grandfather 1110
VI The Sleepless Night 1129
VII The Bitter Cup 1145
VIII The Fading Light 1162
IX Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn 1173
Appendix A The Convent as an Abstract Idea (Part Two, Book VII) 1202
Appendix B Argot (Part Four, Book VII) 1214
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(16)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Wrong text

    This is not the right text!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 2, 2010

    Les Miserables Translation

    Sadly this classic is not brought to live in this version, typos, formatting errors causes the story to be loss. Thankfully there are other versions which may be found for an equal price.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Incomplete book

    This does not include the whole story. It ends abruptly. Pages are missing.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very bad booki

    Very bad translation, you cannot understand anything.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2010

    not good

    It does no good to list this selection as available for download when in fact it is not.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    Disappointing

    This text is so messed up. You can not even read the story, the mistakes in the text are so distracting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Sparrow

    She walks to the lake carring a radio, tears running down her cheaks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    I had a dream my life would be....

    Do you hear the people sing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Les miserables

    I have not get this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Les miserables

    I have not recive this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Only a part

    This begins with the fifth "book" in the story. Not a complete edition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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