Les Misérables [NOOK Book]

Overview

With its themes of redemption, justice, dignity and love, Victor Hugo's 1862 novel is regarded as one of the masterpieces of 19th century fiction. Following the lives and struggles of several characters over a 17-year period, "Les Miserables" offers memorable characters and scenes in the days leading up to the June rebellion of 1832. An early example of historical fiction, Hugo's novel is known throughout the world and has been adapted for television, film and, most famously, ...

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Les Misérables

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Overview

With its themes of redemption, justice, dignity and love, Victor Hugo's 1862 novel is regarded as one of the masterpieces of 19th century fiction. Following the lives and struggles of several characters over a 17-year period, "Les Miserables" offers memorable characters and scenes in the days leading up to the June rebellion of 1832. An early example of historical fiction, Hugo's novel is known throughout the world and has been adapted for television, film and, most famously, musical theater.



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: 9781625394668
  • Publisher: KMW Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/14/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo (1802-85), novelist, poet, playwright, and French national icon, is best known for two of today’s most popular world classics: Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, as well as other works, including The Toilers of the Sea and The Man Who Laughs. Hugo was elected to the Académie Française in 1841. As a statesman, he was named a Peer of France in 1845. He served in France’s National Assemblies in the Second Republic formed after the 1848 revolution, and in 1851 went into self-imposed exile upon the ascendance of Napoleon III, who restored France’s government to authoritarian rule. Hugo returned to France in 1870 after the proclamation of the Third Republic.

Julie Rose’s acclaimed translations include Alexandre Dumas’s The Knight of Maison-Rouge and Racine’s Phèdre, as well as works by Paul Virilio, Jacques Rancière, Chantal Thomas, and many others. She is a recipient of the PEN medallion for translation and the New South Wales Premier’s Translation Prize.

Adam Gopnik is the author of Paris to the Moon and Through the Children’s Gate, and editor of the Library of America anthology Americans in Paris. He writes on various subjects for The New Yorker and has recently written introductions to works by Maupassant, Balzac, Proust, and Alain-Fournier.

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

From the Introduction
by Peter Washington

-

Victor Hugo might be regarded as the Mr Toad of French literature: vain, arrogrant, pompous, selfish, cold and stingy; a windbag, a humbug and a fraud, absurdly puffed up with the immensity of his own greatness. But unlike Mr Toad, he was also an astute and energetic promoter of hisown image as a Great Man. The process began early. Writing in Hugo's lifetime, Virginie Ancelot recalls the reception the young poet received in literary drawing-rooms when he arrived to read his latest ode.

"...There was a few moments' silence; then someone rose and approached him with visible emotion, took his hand and raised their eyes to heaven.

The multitude listened.

A single word was heard, to the great surprise of the uninitiated. And this word, which echoed in every corner of the salon, was:

'Cathedral!'

Then the orator returned to his place; another rose and cried out:

'Ogive!'

A third looked round him and ventured:

'Egyptian Pyramid!'

The assembly applauded, and then it was lost in profound reflection."

To the Anglo-Saxon mind - and, it should be said, to many Frenchmen - this is Parisian literary life at its worst: the posturing, the pretension, the self-regard, masquerading under the name of art. Yet Hugo is the man who wrote a handful of the most exquisite lyrics - 'Victor Hugo, helas!'said Gide when someone asked him to name the finest French poet - and at least one novel judged to be supreme. In his person, he sums up all that is most monsterous in writerly vanity; in his best work he transcended his failings. How did he doit? How did a monster come to write the masterpiece that is Les Miserables?

*

In an early essay on Scott, Hugo prophesies that

"After the picturesque but prosaic novel of Walter Scott, there will still be another novel to create ... It is the novel which is at once drama and epic, picturesque and poetic, real and ieal, true and great, the novel which will enshrine Walter Scott in Homer."

These words were written in 1823, just after the publication of his own first novel, Han d'Islande, and there is no doubt that Hugo had himself in mind as the man who could 'enshrine Walter Scott as Homer'. Anyone who can still get through this book may take a rather different view. Set in seventeeth-century Norway and dripping with gore on every page, Han d'Islande is nearer to the Gothic horror tradition than to Scott. For the man who really succeeded in reconciling the genres of epic and historic fiction we have to look further afield, to Hugo's own admirerer, Tolstoy. Yet it was Tolstoy who vindicated the French novelist's early ambition by judging Les Miserables one of the world's great novels, if not the greates, and acknowledged its effect on his own work.

Les Miserables was completed in 1862, shortly before the Russian novelist began War and Peace. The two novels are set in the same period. It cannot be said that Hugo had much to teach his junior about structure or characterization; like all his attempts at epic, in prose and verse, Les Miserables rambles, there are huge digressions and absurdities of plot, the characters are often thin, the action melodramatic. But in spacious, vigorous story-telling, in the use of an historical framework, in the relating of human events to a larger philosophical and spiritual context, in the deployment of fiction as a social and political weapon, in the exalatation of 'the people' as a supreme authority, in the treatment of suffering as a dominant theme - in all these matters, Hugo exerted a profound influence on Tolstoy. Without his example, War and Peace might have been a very different novel.

Perhaps the most extraordinary point of contact between them concerns Napoleon. One might expect the emperor to intrigue European writers in the early nineteenth century, as he intrigues Byron, Balzac and Stendhal, among others, but by the 1860s almost half a century had passed since Waterloo, yet Hugo and Tolstoy are still trying to unravel the mystery of one whose shadow falls across the entire century.

For Tolstoy, Napoleon is pre-eminently a human being - an extraordinary man, certainly, the instrument of destiny, but still a man. For Hugo he is more like a superman, a mysterious brooding presence with almost divine powers. The point is made by an ironic comparison between Napoleon and Wellington. Hugo's argument seems to be that Napoleon ought to have won Waterloo by sheer force of genius - indeed, that he did win it, when judged according to the rules of natural justice - but that Wellington achieved a victory on points by taking more care to spy out the lay of the battlefield and to estimate the balance of forces. Calculation is everything to the mundane Englishman, imagination nothing. When lightning flashes round the emperor's head, the duke looks like a very ordinary man. While Napoleon surveys the heavens, Wellington consults his watch.

Clearly, the image of general as genius was vital to Hugo's own project of himself as a literary Napoleon, but there is more to it than that. Commentators have often lamented the digression on Waterloo which is quite unnecessary to the plot and, coming early in the book, throws it decisively out of its narrative stride. But Hugo, though careless of structural refinement, does have a more serious purpose here - a purpose from which Tolstoy must have learnt much, and not only in his description of Borodino. For Hugo, who in turn learnt so much from Scott, grasped the fact that by imprinting the significance of a decisive historical moment on the minds of his readers he could hugely enlarge the scope of his novel. Precisely because Les Miserables is about little people, the history of a great man is one means of linking their petty lives with the Infinite. (The link is made touchingly explicit in the chapter called 'In Which Little Gavroche Takes Advantage of Napoleon the Great'.) Even events as great as Waterloo, we are told, can hinge on details: the location of a ditch, the arrival of a platoon. Conversely, the most trivial life may exemplify a great truth - and in that sense, all lives are equally significant, for every existence embodies these truths.

At the same time, Hugo's treatment of Waterloo makes it clear that realities and appearances diverge as much in everyday life as they do in historical interpretation - and that the two divergences are linked. What a post-Waterloo Frenchman thinks of Napoleon helps to shape what he thinks of himself. Sometimes we try to envision history in our own image; sometimes we use it to understand ourselves; at all times we are formed by it without our knowledge. One function of fiction is to help us achieve that knowledge. Les Miserables is, among other things, an attempt to explain the people of the mid-nineteenth century to themselves. Jean Valjean finds himself in a certain situation because he is a poor Frenchman at a particular time. This is one version of Fate - the sociological and political explanation of things. But Valjean is like Waterloo: his life also has a deeper purpose, a hidden meaning. Hugo has a number of names for this meaning - Fate, Destiny, God, the Infinite. But whatever he calls it, we observe a complex dialogue throughout the book between the surface causes of Valjean's predicament - poverty and ignorance - and their deeper meaning, to which he penetrates through suffering.

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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
( 51 )
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(16)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 51 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.

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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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

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

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Only a part

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

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

    Posted August 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 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 December 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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