Les Miserables

( 177 )

Overview

In this story of the trials of the peasant Jean Valjean - a man unjustly imprisoned, baffled by destiny, and hounded by his nemesis, the magnificently realized, ambiguously malevolent police detective Javert - Hugo achieves the sort of rare imaginative resonance that allows a work of art to transcend its genre.

Trying to forget his past and live an honest life, escaped convict Jean Valjean risks his freedom to take care of a ...

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Les Miserables

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Overview

In this story of the trials of the peasant Jean Valjean - a man unjustly imprisoned, baffled by destiny, and hounded by his nemesis, the magnificently realized, ambiguously malevolent police detective Javert - Hugo achieves the sort of rare imaginative resonance that allows a work of art to transcend its genre.

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

From the Publisher
“Rich and gorgeous. This is the [translation] to read… and if you are flying, just carry it under your arm as you board, or better still, rebook your holiday and go by train, slowly, page by page.”
—Jeanette Winterson, The Times (London)

“[A] magnificent story… marvelously captured in this new unabridged translation by Julie Rose.”
The Denver Post

“A new translation by Julie Rose of Hugo’s behemoth classic that is as racy and current and utterly arresting as it should be.”
Buffalo News (editor’s choice)

“Vibrant and readable, idiomatic and well suited to a long narrative, [Julie Rose’s new translation of Les Miserables] is closer to the captivating tone Hugo would have struck for his own contemporaries.”
—Diane Johnson

“A lively, dramatic, and wonderfully readable translation of one of the greatest 19th-century novels.”
—Alison Lurie

“Some of us may have read Les Miserables back in the day, but… between Gopnik and Rose, you’ll get two introductions that will offer you all the pleasures of your college instruction with none of the pain.”
The Agony Column (trashotron.com)

From Barnes & Noble
A rousing adventure story peopled with heartbreaking, unforgettable characters and a powerful allegory about the good and evil lying beneath the surfaces of human beauty, ugliness, and superior intellect.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781500609580
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/23/2014
  • Pages: 584
  • Sales rank: 1,348,790
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.18 (d)

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

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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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
The book which the reader now holds in his hands, from one end to the other...treats the advance from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsity to truth, from darkness to daylight, from blind appetite to conscience, from decay to life, from bestiality to duty, from Heaven to Hell, from Limbo to God. Matter itself is the starting point, and the point of arrival is the soul.
—Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Twenty years in the conception and execution, Les Misérables was first published in France and Belgium in 1862, a year which found Victor Hugo in exile from his beloved France. Enemies and admirers throughout the world devoured his works—poetry, political tracts, and fiction—and the effect of these works upon the public was always sensational. On the morning of 15 May, a mob filled the streets around Pagnerre's book shop, eyeing the stacks of copies of Les Misérables that stretched between floor and ceiling. A few hours later, they had all—thousands of books—been sold. Hugo's critics were quick to condemn him for making money by dramatizing the misery of the poor, while the poor themselves bought, read, and discussed his book in unprecedented numbers. True to Hugo's political stance, he had written a book about the people that was for the people, a book that demanded a change in society's judgement of its citizens.

The story is set between 1815 and 1832, the years of Hugo's youth. The descriptions of Paris, the characterizations of Gavroche and other Parisian stock characters, and such statements as, "To err is human, to stroll is Parisian" all attest to Hugo's unswerving adoration of his home city. Exile no doubt encouraged the romantic meanderings of Hugo's prose. The protagonist of Les Misérables, Jean Valjean, is also in exile from the world of men because of the desperate crime he committed in his youth. Liberated from prison, Valjean hides his identity and becomes a successful man, as charitable as he is rich and powerful. His altruism leads him to promise Fantine, a dying prostitute, that he will seek out her exploited young daughter Cosette after her death. The ensuing love between "father" and "daughter" (Cosette) is miraculous, redeeming Valjean and bestowing happiness on his otherwise grim life. To some extent, Hugo also was seeking redemption, having, for much of his youth, ignored the populist concerns of Republican France. He sacrificed his lifestyle in Paris for justice, and Les Misérables, "the Magna Carta of the human race," is a testament of this humanitarian awakening.

The Revolution and Republic of France had failed to redress the unconscionable social conditions in which many French citizens languished. Les Misérables became an expression of and an inspiration for that attempt. Hugo initially entitled his work, Les Misère ("the poverty"), but changed it to Les Misérables, which, in Hugo's time, denoted everyone from the poor to the outcasts and insurrectionists. In Hugo's lifetime, the schism between "haves" and "have-nots" was vast; an unbalanced economy made jobs scarce for those who earned their living by work. This was an era without a welfare system, unemployment benefits, or worker's compensation. The closest thing to a homeless shelter was prison, a macabre dungeon where inmates slept on bare planks and ate rancid food. To this place the disabled, insane, hungry, or desperate citizens of France eventually found their way. The one hope of the poor for relief was charity from those who were, if not indifferent to their plight, outright hostile to it.

Les Misérables vindicates those members of society forced by unemployment and starvation to commit crimes—in Jean Valjean's case, the theft of a loaf of bread—who are thereafter outcast from society. It is fairly common parlance today to suggest that prison creates more hardened criminals than it reforms, but the idea was radical to Hugo's contemporaries. "Perrot de Chezelles, in an 'Examination of Les Misérables,' defended the excellence of a State which persecuted convicts even after their release, and derided the notion that poverty and ignorance had anything to do with crime. Criminals were evil." Jean Valjean morally surpasses characters working on behalf of this excellent State. The poor and the disenfranchised understood Hugo's message, accepted the affirmation he gave them, and worshipped him as their spokesman. Workers pooled their money to buy the book not one of them could afford on their own. The struggling people of France had found an articulate illustration of the unjust forces arrayed against them.

Hugo's gift to the people simultaneously affirms that every citizen is important to the health of the nation and emphasizes how that fact gives each individual responsibility for the conditions we all share. Hugo sees the world as a convoluted pattern: "Nothing is truly small...within that inexhaustible compass, from the sun to the grub, there is no room for disdain; each thing needs every other thing." He illustrates a system full of injustice, but in that same sphere, a single gesture of kindness redeems the world; he shows us a civilization based on self-interest and profit, but in one generous act the possibilities of a better world become manifest; he portrays people who regard their neighbors with suspicion and contempt, but with one vow of love, humanity's faith is born anew. Les Misérables is one of history's greatest manifestos of hope for humankind.

The immense popularity of this story has not diminished over time. Since the original 1935 film version, there have been several other international films entitled Les Misérables including a Spring 1998 release starring Liam Neeson and Uma Thurman. The "most popular musical in the world" has toured the globe several times and has been running on Broadway since March 1987. Why does this story continue to charm and inspire audiences and readers? In our time, as there was in Hugo's, there is cause for despair: greed and violence undermine true progress; human life is rendered meaningless through materialism and nihilism; children the world over suffer neglect, poverty, and ignorance. Who does not identify with Jean Valjean's arduous journey through the sewers, and who does not long for an escape like his emergence into the pristine Parisian dusk? Hugo illustrates how the most profound revolution takes place in our individual consciences, how every moment we are faced with decisions to do right or wrong, and how to make in our hearts pitched battles against our own worst impulses. Les Misérables incites us to make the best fight of our lives the fight to become authentically good people and gives us hope that our efforts will not be in vain. Time cannot change the necessity or urgency of that message—only people can.

ABOUT VICTOR HUGO

Victor Hugo died in 1885 as one of the most famous Europeans in history. The number of people who attended Hugo's funeral ceremony was larger than the normal population of Paris. On the first of April, Hugo's pauper's coffin, which he had requested in his will, was carried from the Arc de Triomphe to his final resting place at the Panthéon. At eighty-three years old, Hugo had outlived two siblings, his wife, three out of four of his children, and thousands of admirers and critics who had watched his career transform and flourish. Prolific and protean as an artist, a politician, and a man, Hugo was capable of testing the limits of extremes, having learned the tension of polar opposites from his parents early in life. Victor-Marie Hugo was born on 26 February 1802 to Sophie Trébuchet and Joseph-Léopold-Sigisbert Hugo. His father was a decorated General in Napoléon's army, stationed in Italy and Spain during much of young Victor's youth. His mother was not only a Monarchist, but was involved in a plot to overthrow Napoléon. Under the care of his stoic mother, Hugo grew into a traditionalist, sworn to preserving the neo-Classical tradition of French literature and the rights of the French monarchy.

Hugo's literary talent was first publicized when he was seventeen years old. In 1819, he submitted two poems to the Académie Française, winning the Golden Amaranth for one poem and the Golden Lily, the Académie's highest honor, for another. (Hugo was elected to the Académie in 1841.) He published 112 articles and twenty-two poems in Le Conservateur Littéraire, the magazine founded by his brother Abel. These writings all supported traditional French literature and castigated early Romanticism, an ideology that soon thereafter lured Hugo to its camp with its irresistible ideals of freedom, honesty, and originality.

In 1830, Hugo's play Hernani put all Paris on its feet. The play opened at the Comédie Française and was attended by the new and the old aesthetic regimes. Ignoring the classical unities and their stale dignity of speech, Hernani was cheered by the Romantics and insulted, booed, and declaimed by the older, more conservative "kneeheads." Aesthetic disagreements escalated into riots, and duels were even fought over Hugo's play. Thus began a volatile and prolific career, each work fresh, surprising, and loaded with that Hugolian tendency to incite controversy. Hugo's literary output was staggering and the following is but a brief list of his major works: (poetry) Les Châtiments, Les Feuilles d'automne, La Légende des siécles, Les Orientales, Odes et Ballades, Les Rayons et les ombres, L'Art d'^etre grand-pére, (novels) Bug-Jargal, Notre Dame de Paris, Les Misérables, Les Travailleurs de la mer, L'Homme qui rit, Ruy Blas. Add to this his political and cultural commentary, his travelogues, letters, speeches, and plays, and you have a corpus of work that scholars are still compiling, publishing, and analyzing.

Hugo made no attempt to separate his life as a writer from his life as a citizen. In 1845, Hugo was made a pair de France (life peer and member of the Upper House), a position which should have endeared him to powerful circles and alienated him from the people. Yet a comfortable existence acquiescing to unjust powers was not to be Hugo's destiny, as he often proclaimed, "Not to believe in the people is to be a political atheist." During the revolutions, riots, and massacres of 1848 and 1849, Hugo abandoned the regime of Louis-Napoléon, nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte, because of its increasing authoritarianism; and when Louis-Napoléon was confirmed the leader of the Republic, Hugo and thousands of other thinkers, dissenters, and literati went into exile. For the next twenty years, Hugo disseminated his works from Belgium and the small islands in the English Channel, smuggling political satires and polemical verse in sardine tins, walking sticks, and baggy trousers. It was at this period Hugo produced his magnificent excoriation of Louis-Napoléon, Napoléon-le-Petit, as well as Les Châtiments (The Punishments), an explosion of poetic wrath directed at the emperor. Throughout his life, Hugo worked to further Republican virtues, affirming education and a democratic distribution of property, denouncing the unbalance of power and capital punishment.

Hugo's home, however, did not quite match the utilitarian simplicity of his ascetic ideal Jean Valjean. He had proven that one could get rich writing books; it was partially Hugo's love of humanity that had made him a millionaire. The two women he loved—his wife Adèle and his mistress Juliette— shared in a large part of the work—answering letters, copying manuscripts, etc.—and a small part of the glory. Hugo had married his childhood sweetheart against his parents' wishes in 1822, and they had four children. This family avoided the actress and ex-prostitute who resided down the street from them, Juliette. Her affair with Hugo lasted for fifty years, perhaps the longest extra-marital affair in history. Neither a model of virtue or simplicity, Hugo nonetheless inspired the people of many nations and many generations to act with greater regard for others.

Today it is hard to imagine a playwright whose works young men die defending, a poet whose followers cry for revolution, a thinker whose thoughts change world history. Hugo was all of these and his legacy survives through his tremendous literary bequest. He lived in a time when children were shot in the streets of Paris and governments were violently overthrown every twenty years. His presence was a beacon and a pillar, a palpable force to struggle against or with, a mad blend of courage, genius, and kindness. It is not his godliness which assures Hugo's place in eternity, but his humanity.

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This powerful evocation of Paris in 1482 and the tragic tale of Quasimodo has become the classic example of French romanticism.
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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • How did Bishop Bienvenu's visit to the dying revolutionary G—change him? What about this man surprised the Bishop and why? How are the Revolutionary ideals espoused by G— similar to or different from the pure Christian ideals of the Bishop?
  • Why did Jean Valjean steal the Bishop's silver? How was this act influenced by his experience in prison? Discuss the process of change that occurred in Valjean after the Bishop "bought back his soul from Satan" with the silver. Would this bargain have been successful with every person? Why was Valjean subject to such transformation?
  • Discuss what you know about the French Revolution and its cultural echoes in France. Could this story of Valjean's redemption be told in another historical context? In what ways is this story dependent on and independent of its setting?
  • How would you characterize Hugo's political and nationalist stance based on his description of the Battle of Waterloo and his account of other political events? Can his loyalties—Monarchist, Bonapartist, nationalist, humanist, etc.—be discerned and defined?
  • Marius's friends die in the July Revolution. What values were they defending? What do you think Hugo values in these heroic characters and how does his description of them show this?
  • Hugo inserts a rather scathing aside about the nature of Fame in Part I, chapter one: "Prosperity presupposes ability." Jean Valjean is an example of a man who is exceptional in many significant ways, who positively and profoundly affects the lives of people around him, and who lives and dies in absolute obscurity. This portrait is drawn by a man who was inarguably the most famous man in France, literally "a legend in his own time." How can fame adversely influence one's ability to do good in the world? How does Valjean safely covet his obscurity, and how does this obscurity contribute to the good deeds Valjean habitually performs?
  • Cosette was never more fortunate than when she left the home of the socially "respectable" Thénardiers to be raised by a feared ex-convict. How is this an indictment of Hugo's society's criteria for respectability? What are the Thénardiers symbolic or symptomatic of?
  • One of the most psychologically complex characters is Javert, who— though he plays the role of a villain—acts not out of malice but out of a sense of duty to what he truly believes is ethically correct. How would you define Javert's value system? There is a weak link in Javert's chain of rationalizations for his behavior and his life. Identify it and explain how it leads to Javert's suicide. At which points in the book does Hugo show Javert to advantage? At which points does Javert appear to be more a classic villain?
  • Hugo clearly adores Paris. How is the street urchin Gavroche symbolic of the city in which he runs rampant? If he is truly a "son of Paris," which attributes did he inherit from his "mother"? Compare Hugo's descriptions of Paris to his descriptions of the French countryside and smaller cities. How do Parisians differ from denizens of the rest of France? Are these differences slight or serious?
  • Compare the musical Les Misérables to the book. What is left out, emphasized, or added? How does the change of medium effect the pace and tone of the story? To what do you attribute the long-running success of the musical?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 177 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 177 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2008

    Amazing!!

    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.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2003

    Horay for full translation by Norman Denny!

    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.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted July 5, 2004

    BEST Book Ever

    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!!!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2013

    Not fair

    Abridged

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2012

    Inspiring!

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2003

    Les Miserables is a good book

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    C

    I just went to see the movie!Soooooooooooooooooooooooo sad almost everybody died.i cried the whole movie.now i just need to read the book!

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2002

    an eye-opener for the people.

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2014

    Great

    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

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    Awe

    I was cosette on braudway and my great grand mother is katherin grayson.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    THIS IS ABRIDGED!!!!!

    For those of you guys who are wondering if this abridged or not THIS IS ADRIDGED!!!! The real version is over 1500 pages whule this version is only 550 pages! This is a good version for those of you that want to read Les Miserabled but don't want to read all the extra details!!!!
    Oh by the way if you are in Mrs. Kleinman's class in SMS this is the correct version of the book that we are supposed to read for the quizes
    :D hope this helps

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    Text is way too small

    This was a silly purchase. I will not read the story from this book. If you want to read the story, buy a multi-book set. This single book is enormous and difficult to hold. And the text is way too small. Unfortunate. But luckily I only wasted $5

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2011

    For french history lovers!

    This book is a romantic novel, that has much history thrown in. It is highly detailed and full of character depth. Must read, for french history.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2003

    Grabs you and won't let go...

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2003

    Awwwweeesssome beyond awesome!

    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.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2003

    Just the best!!

    When I first have gotten into 'Les Miserables', I was in sixth grade and playing a simple part in the play. I first thought that it was going to be boring. But then I started to understand what is going on and I fell in love with it. Even though I haven't read it yet, I feel that I have already did. I will never forget characters like Jean Valjean, Fantine, Javert, Cosette, Eponine, Marius, and the Thenardiers. This is one thing that I will never forget in my entire life.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2002

    the coolest book

    This book was a really good it was very romantic, some parts of it was sad, if you like books that a really confusing and m,ake you think alot you should read this book. i really don't like reading but this book took up like all my time. but in a good way. if it wasn't for my favorite teacher awould have read this book and would have been doing nothing.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2002

    You Go Hugo!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2002

    For Love of 'Les MIserables'

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2002

    Context of Les Miserables

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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