Les Miserables

Les Miserables

4.4 165
by Victor Hugo, Monica Kulling

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In this major new rendition by the acclaimed translator Julie Rose, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is revealed in its full, unabridged glory. A favorite of readers for nearly 150 years, this stirring tale of crime, punishment, justice, and redemption pulses with life. Featuring such unforgettable characters as the quintessential prisoner of conscience…  See more details below


In this major new rendition by the acclaimed translator Julie Rose, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is revealed in its full, unabridged glory. A favorite of readers for nearly 150 years, this stirring tale of crime, punishment, justice, and redemption pulses with life. Featuring such unforgettable characters as the quintessential prisoner of conscience Jean Valjean, the relentless police detective Javert, and the tragic prostitute Fantine and her innocent daughter, Cosette, Hugo’s epic novel sweeps readers from the French provinces to the back alleys of Paris, and from the battlefield of Waterloo to the bloody ramparts of Paris during the uprising of 1832. With an Introduction by Adam Gopnik, this Modern Library edition is an outstanding translation of a masterpiece that continues to astonish and entertain readers around the world.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - 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.

From the Publisher
"Hugo's genius was for the creation of simple and recognizable myth. The huge success of Les Misérables as a didactic work on behalf of the poor and oppressed is due to his poetic and myth-enlarged view of human nature." —V. S. Pritchett

"It was Tolstoy who vindicated [Hugo's] early ambition by judging Les Misérables one of the world's great novels, if not the greatest… [His] ability to present the extremes of experience 'as they are' is, in the end, Hugo's great gift." —From the Introduction by Peter Washington

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Random House Children's Books
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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:


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


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 do it? 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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What People are saying about this

V. S. Pritchett
Hugo's genius was for the creation of simple and recognisable myth. The huge success of Les Miserables as a didactic work on behalf of the poor and oppressed is due to its poetic and myth-enlarged view of human nature... Hugo himself called this novel 'a religious work'; and it has indeed the necessary air of having been written by God in one of his more accessible and saleable moods.

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Les Miserables 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 165 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As if anyone needed an excuse to read Les Miserables--one of the most fantastic pieces of literature of all time--we now have a wonderfully rendered translation by Julie Rose. Coupled with a wildly intelligent introduction by Adam Gopnik, this is the most complete and informative edition of Hugo's masterpiece to date. With ludicrously complete endnotes, one can read the novel and achieve near total comprehension of the era about which Hugo was writing. We understand through this winning translation and notes why Napoleon was good and evil, why he was such a polarizing figure, why the French Revolution was so important to European and world history. Understanding the world from which Hugo's charaters come helps us relate and identify with them even more. We understand why Enjolras is a zealot, why Javert is dedicated beyond reason to the law, why Fantine felt she had run out of options, to name a very few. Les Miserables, at its core, is a meditation on the human spirit in its idealized form: what Man can achieve through good deeds, dedication, and love of his fellow men. Read and be inspired.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The translation of Victor Hugo's Les Misrables by Norman Denny is as close as you can get to an unabridged version. This is not a volume to be read quickly, so if you are on a deadline let this one lie & get one of the shorter translations; but you will be missing the full experience! Hugo's style was to go on in excrutiating detail about the people, places, & institutions in his stories. It is one of the things that make his works timeless; you come away with not just so much entertainment, but an understanding of the place & time that the characters inhabited, & what they thought & felt & why. Norman Denny captures that full experience in his translation, with minimal editorializing or abridging. He includes two appendices that were complete chapters in Hugo's original text, but depart fully from the story line to give background & explanation. You will be tempted at times to skip several pages or whole chapters. Don't! Instead, take a break (stretch, get a cup of coffee, a nap, some conversation, some excercise, or do some work) and come back to it fresh later so you can savor every nuance. It will be worth it when you come to the last chapters & can read not only what happens to the characters, but feel what they feel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LibrarianJP More than 1 year ago
In this epic tale, Hugo has an endless array of characters that are willing to do whatever they have to including sacrificing themselves, to ensure that those they love are happy. The amazing characters are made even more realistic in that Hugo shows that each one of them is human, each one has their own faults, this only makes the novel more inspiring, as it illustrates to us that everyday people, just like us, have the strength to self sacrifice for the greater good. It is a beautiful novel that inspires us to live not for ourselves, but for others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THis is by far my favorite book! It was outstanding.I read the entire book when I was 14 and still is my favorite.I love all of the detailing Victor Hugo does.He is a Great writer and the book is full of adventure ,I just couldn't put the book down!My favorite character has to be Eponine.I definatly recommend this book!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Les Miserables Les Miserables is one of the best books I¿ve ever read. It contrasts the hard life of Jean Valjean, a convict, to the sheltered and almost star struck life of Cossette, whom Jean Valjean fosters after her mother, Fantine, dies. When placed against the striking background of a Paris in political turmoil, this story strikes a chord in every person who reads it. I give it an A+, 10 out of 10, 5 stars, whatever I can to express how good this book is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
undoubtedly, this novel is an eye-opener! with the revealing plot and the symbolic figures used, Hugo artistically presented a story of a convict with a touch of the political dilemma of the people during his time. the characters of fantine, cosette and javert add up to the effectiveness of the novel and their stories are somehow affecting the the outcome. Valjean's character is outrageously different , his transformation from a convict into an important man of society makes his character interesting despite the struggles he encountered especially with Javert who appeared as a classical villain although his objectives are just a part of his job. the love story of marius and cosette , on the other hand made a little part boring because the flow of story became slow but still it adds flavor to the completeness of the novel!!! truly les miserables is recommendable and 5 stars are enough to fully recognized the essential points that this eye-opener is trying to implant into our minds.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a marvelous, detailed, and exciting read. This is quite possibly my favorite book- there aren't any words to describe it more than that... This text must have inspired thousands of books to be written, and is still, in my opinion, one of the best books in history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book wraps you up in a whirlpool of remarkable characters and inspiring events. Way cool. Try this novel if your looking for something that will leave you pining for it ages after it. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ending! Something you could read again and again! (Also because it's so long by the time it's done you forgot how it started.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Les Miserables was amazing. Hugo's motivational inspiration on the actions and events in his actual life time are just amazing, and reflect on his writing, and how he portrays his story, and characters. Not only is the storyline intriguing, and adventurous, but his personal view on life in general, is so true. This is what highschool literature should be based on. Not these idiot teen novels we're forced to be reading. Thankyou Victor. I enjoyed your book very much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Escape - to avoid capture, danger, or harm. This simple word is the center of life for Jean Valjean, a master of escape in Victor Hugo's novel, 'Les Miserables'. Les Miserables is not only a captivating novel which cultivates and evokes deep thoughts, but it also retained this reader¿s interest. Les Miserables has an excellent mixture of grief, action, suspense, and eventual happiness to please any avid reader. It allows insight into the human soul and gives hope for the future through Valjean¿s actions. The mood in Les Miserables is a constantly changing one. Tension consumed me as the mood changed and made me feel the imminent doom, reconciliation, and hopelessness released by the characters. A sense of mystery and foreboding is emulated through the dark settings. Most of the action occurs in a dark, dreary place, or at night, so as to give off a feeling of bad happenings. One of the biggest reasons for my love of Les Miserables has to be the story line itself. An ex-convict transforms himself from a bitter, angry person to one who sacrifices himself to better others. Stories like this give me faith in the human race and humanity. The characters are what give Les Miserables its power to fascinate readers. Each character plays a specific part in creating the novel. Fantine, a lonely, hopeless prostitute, represents misfortune. Jean Valjean is the savior for all characters. He is the one who nurses Fantine in her time of need, raises the orphaned Cosette, and saves Marius in his time of peril. Cosette is light of Valjean¿s life. Witnessing Cosette make Valjean happy lightens the mood and give Les Miserables appeal to the emotions. Javert, the police investigator, is the stimulant for most of the action and chasing in the novel. Each character contributes his or her personality to the work as a whole. I would recommend this riveting book to people who enjoy action novels with plenty of conflict and pleasing endings. Extreme detail makes Les Miserables memorable. I remembered the smallest detail because of the wonderful descriptions portrayed by Hugo. Relying heavily on justice and morality, Les Miserables kept me in suspense waiting to discover what misfortune would fall upon the next character. I recommend this book to all ardent readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I believe Les Miserables deserves four stars. It encompasses the primary historical trends of the nineteenth century. Victor Hugo, the author of Les Miserables, utilizes some of his personal experiences to create the exciting adventures of Jean Valjean, the protagonist of the novel, provides insight on poignant issues such as universal suffrage, prison reform, free education, and social equality. I recommend reading this novel. Les Miserables not only broadens the mind toward social issues, but the techniques used to form the novel enhanced the theme. The context of this novel was enjoyable because Hugo appropriately used different techniques to intensify the effect of the novel, one of which is symbolism. Three of the main characters symbolize different dilemmas present during the French Revolution, the period in which Les Miserables was written. Jean Valjean symbolizes the degradation of man in the proletariat; once a man has committed a crime, he will always be a convict. Cosette symbolizes atrophy of the child by darkness; women who birth children out of wedlock are belittled. Fantine symbolizes the subjection of women through hunger; women would suffice anything to survive in society. Through Jean Valjean, Hugo implemented satire to provide Les Miserables with moral redemption. In Valjean¿s attempt to redeem his past, he progresses from convict to saint. This ironical situation salvages one¿s view of mankind, that salvation can be acquired and produce a tremendous impact. The satire and moral redemption, in this novel, added immensely to the effect of the theme. It provides a sense of comfort; people make mistakes, but through those mistakes knowledge is gained for them to succeed. Another interesting technique Hugo used consists of a microcosm. He created a world within a world. Valjean possessed his own world that revolved around him and Cosette. Through this microcosm the reader gains a feeling of attachment to Cosette and Valjean. When something happens to either of them it seems as though it has befallen upon a close friend of the reader. Although this novel contains unsurpassable context, it also contains a few minor flaws. The story line for Les Miserables seems to drag out, which makes the book difficult to read. It seems as though the novel may continue forever. If the novel had not tarried along, it may have been easier to comprehend. Unfortunately, I became bored with the novel at times and had to cease reading for a while. Hugo¿s eccentric use of symbolism, satire, a microcosm, and moral redemption, provide a source of exquisite reading material. Hugo used many other techniques to spawn Les Miserables, such as flashbacks, similes and metaphors, irony, monologue, and self-communion. Each technique adds to the exquisiteness of the final product. This novel is distinguished worldwide for its portrayal of France during the French Revolution. Ultimately, Les Miserables subsists of extraordinary context. I highly recommend reading it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I find 'Les Miserables' to be one of the most incredible novels ever written! 'Les Miserables' is a wonderful novel about redemption and the analysis of one's own heart. The primary focus shadows upon the life of protagonist, Jean Valjean. Valjean, after many years of imprisonment, sets forth on a journey to give himself a new name and place in society. All of his random acts of kindness are a result of the hospitality of a town priest. The seeds of compassion that were sprinkled on Valjean grow into an array of meaningful lessons that the 'real world' will later find enduring. I believe that 'Les Miserables' is an astounding novel. In fact, I had the entire book read in less than one week. I never wanted to put it down. The plotlines are all about common and perceivable issues, but they are displayed in such an intensely rich, dramatic manner that is extremely mind-captivating. Nineteenth Century France is a very culturally and socially rich place to begin with, but the way Victor Hugo writes makes the entire novel sound that much more impeccable. The creative imagery (to some extent) invokes the reader to feel as if they are a part of the novel. I even found myself yelling at the book at the very exciting parts. Yes folks,I was that drawn into the novel! 'Les Miserables' centers around many themes which I feel that the society of today and the society of tomorrow should start examining very closely. To begin, one common theme is: 'Nothing is more worthy to own that compassion, ' which is also a quote from Bette Midler. This theme is consistantly examplified all throughout the novel. Seemingly, compassion is the key element motivating everything in 'Les Miserables.' If not for compassion, the fate of the characters would seem even more detrimental and depressing that what they already appear. Also, much usage of sensory details enhances the tone of the setting. A Parisian cathedral is no longer looked at as another common church, but as an emmaculate building of devoted worship. 'Les Miserables' is also told from many different points of view, adding more complexity and intenseness to this piece of literary art. The novel is divided into five sections, each with its own morality play essence. Whether it be a story from the devoted Jean Valjean, or the saint-like Fantine, none are forgettable. In order to fully enjoy this novel, one would have to possess a lot of empathy, sympathy, and understanding. If the reader does not dive into the novel with these qualities, he or she will surely finish the novel with them. Personally, I was very moved by the entire work as a whole. The drama, emotion, and most of all, the teachings are heartfelt and inspiring. I strongly recommend this novel to everyone! The climactic adrenaline that the reader feels is enough to last a lifetime. However, do not let the number of pages steer you away from something so prestigious.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Les Miserables was a truly remarkable book and i loved every part of it. I simply could not put it down once i started. It was a great work of art. And i simply enjoyed it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
im a seventh grader and im reading this for an honors english class. i will admit it is kinda hard to read but in the end it is all worth while!!!!!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Beautifully written- you feel much closer to the characters in the stage version (such as how the musical doesn't explain Javert's backstory). The book truly makes you think about the workings of society. I'm not going to spoil the plot, so I'll just give a brief summary: Jean Valjean spends nineteen years in prison for theft. He spends the rest of his life searching for redemption, becoming an honest man in the process. FAVORITE CHARACTER: Javert- I relate to this character more than the others, as there have been times when I have felt unstable. Thankfully I got through it. FAVORITE SCENE: The Gorbeau Tenement, because somehow ( hacks?) Valjean trolls several Thenardier, most of Patron-Minette, and the police. OVERALL: 5/5, I highly recommend it.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Name: Glade Simplicity <p> Gender: &#9794 Age 24 <p> Parents: Zeus and Hera <p> A rich guy who is small and looks charming with perfect teeth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walks in adn asks,"Can i join?" ((Hello to my friend who i know is here!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bakersfield ,Ca .........answer to bre
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Le miserables? Or what?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
Christine Donougher&rsquo;s new translation is brilliant. That the novel is a classic, we knew. What Donougher does is make the work seem fluent to our eye and ear and as thrilling to us now as it must have been when it was published in 1862. The relevance of this story to our world cries out to us, and the simplicity of the language makes it accessible even to a schoolchild. The time it must have taken both the translator and the publisher (Penguin Classics) to complete this gorgeously-produced novel is staggering but they have allowed us to marvel at Hugo&rsquo;s work once again. What astonishes me is that by the time Hugo wrote Les Miserables, he was already a widely respected poet and author in France. Hugo began as a poet and was in his late thirties when he wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Twenty years later, Les Miserables was published. Part I was published first, and sold so well that subscribers lined up for the rest of the work. How could Hugo create characters as heartbreakingly complete as the young Gavroche, as recognizable as the teenaged Cosette, or as good as the Bishop of Digne? Hugo created an entire world with this huge novel, and we believe him about the bleak penury and poverty. But how did he know it? Hugo is so supremely sure of his audience that two hundred and fifty pages into the novel he takes fifty pages to lead us on a tour of the old battlefield of Waterloo, recounting for us every strategy of the generals and how their plans went awry. &ldquo;Let us go back now--it is one of the narrator&rsquo;s privileges,&rdquo; he says, knowing we would follow him wherever by this time, we are so anxious to hear about the child Cosette who was left with exploitative foster parents Th&eacute;nardier and is now being sought by the again-fugitive Valjean. It turns out that the Battle of Waterloo is not just discursive after all, but tells us of the first meeting of Pontmercy and Th&eacute;nardier.  Valjean is recaptured and sentenced to a chain-gang. The ingenious method of his escape this time is both breathtaking and heart-warming--he saves a working sailor from the deep--and we find ourselves mad for love of him. As we progress further in this magnificent novel, we begin to mull over why it is so remarkable: what qualities make it a classic? The scope and relevance of the work which we find immediate even today (&ldquo;the poor will ever be with us&rdquo;) and&hellip;Hugo plays us. By his characterizations he captures something in us which wants to believe in goodness, in heroism, in fairness and the right for something better. He involves our every sense, our every emotion. Even the wicked are making sense of their cruel world and therefore can be seen as humorous, or forgivable. We are on the barricades, waving the red flag and singing. What a brave book. In the Production Notes of the latest Oscar-nominated version of the film starring Jackman, Crowe, Hathaway, Redmayne, Carter, and Cohen, all the actors praise the set for making them feel like they were in 19th Century Paris. When the Set Designers were asked where they got their inspiration, they said they had done a little bit of research, but most of what they constructed gave from the descriptions in the novel itself. The book is a self-contained world. We have everything we need to draw each character and know them intimately. Every bow is tied, every thread followed.  I have seen at least three different film versions of Les Miserables and I have to say that Tom Hooper&rsquo;s version stays with me the longest and best, while at the same time recognizing that I will always think of Gerard Depardieux as Jean Valjean. Tom Hooper&rsquo;s ability to make song the natural mode of communication was unlike anything I&rsquo;d seen before. That skill, along with the actors&rsquo; skills, paired with the Claude-Michel Sch&ouml;nberg score and the Herbert Kretzmer lyrics, together make such a brilliant work that one really is cheated unless one hears the score sung. Hugo would be proud. The book is such a huge work that directors must choose what they will show, and Hooper changed his scenes from the stage presentations because he had more latitude. I so appreciate that he showed &Eacute;ponine taking a bullet for Marius just as it is in the text. The story itself is an unwieldy thing and moving from the story of Jean Valjean to that portion that incorporates Marius is a big obstacle for directors and readers. Hooper manages it adroitly by choosing the telegenic and enormously compelling Eddie Redmayne to play Marius and Hugo manages it by making his work more interesting than anything else we could be reading. I can hardly imagine someone reading or listening to this story in the nineteenth century and what a miracle it would have seemed, with so many moments of riveting tension, chatty background, and characters real enough to paint.  Hooper, the director of the most recent film version, abridged the work so well and while I questioned the appearance of Marius&rsquo; uncle hovering in some scenes, I can see why he wanted to include it. In the book the uncle is a creature of huge regrets and it must have seemed impossible to leave him out entirely, though I don&rsquo;t think it played well in the film. By the same token, Hooper and Crowe made the death of Javert a much more emotional moment than it was for me when I read it. Crowe so inhabited the character of Javert we found ourselves actually caring for him at the same time we feared him. That is a complicated response. But I liked the way Hugo managed Javert's slipping away from the front door of Valjean's house with no words or sense of moment. That was Javert's moment of greatness, and it was so quiet and small, almost nonexistent. What a thing to write! This translation by Christine Donougher is magnificent. She makes Hugo once again seem completely relevant and current through her use of language, accentuating Hugo&rsquo;s great gifts. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to see the differences between the work itself and any attempts at stage play. Hugo was a great storyteller and while I wish I could have heard the clamor when the work was published that first time in 1862, I feel lucky to have experienced it in 2015.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great, I love the storyline too ! It has a lot of pages if you get the paperback version. 1463 to be exaxt. Don't give up keep on reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey guys
Anonymous More than 1 year ago