Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

3.9 353
by Victor Hugo, Nicole Savy (Commentaries by), Guy Rosa (Preface by)

See All Formats & Editions

Victor Hugo's towering novel of Jean Valjean, his unjust imprisonment, and his lifelong flight from a relentless police officer.


Victor Hugo's towering novel of Jean Valjean, his unjust imprisonment, and his lifelong flight from a relentless police officer.

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)

Product Details

Livre de Poche
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.70(d)

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?'

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.

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 26, 1802
Date of Death:
May 22, 1885
Place of Birth:
Besançon, France
Place of Death:
Paris, France
Pension Cordier, Paris, 1815-18

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Les Miserables 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 353 reviews.
KateBrianIsAwesome More than 1 year ago
The unabridged version is what you should read. That's what the author Victor Hugo wanted us to read. He did not write 1463 pages for people to butcher it up to an abridged version. And with the abridged version you don't fully get the affect of the book. I know people don't have a very good attention span these days but it's so worth it to read the unabridged version. The abridged version takes alot of important parts out. If you are in a hurry and need a quick read for school or something like that get the spark notes or cliff notes. Please show the author respect by reading the unbutchered version. I'm dissappointed in BN for publishing the abridged version. Les Miserables is one of the most greatest books on the world. Don't let the size of the book discourage you. When you look at it like this some of us read 1000 some pages a month when we add up all the books we've read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read both the unabridged version and this abridged version. This version summarizes parts of the book where Hugo gets a bit long winded and spends several pages just to make one point that could easily be made by one paragraph. I prefer this version.

Hugo's Jean Valjean will have you sharing his feelings as society both praises and condemns him. Society praises his accomplishments yet can condemn him for past mistakes and for which overrule anything he did or could have done to better himself and those around him. While reading this novel I often wonder how close to the truth this treatment was. I suspect, very close.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It is skillfully written and truly a classic. I would recommend reading the full version, not the abridged because there is a lot that you miss. A wonderful book full of action and love. It is now my favorite book ever!
Aimee_Leon More than 1 year ago
Les Miserables is my new all-time favorite books. I love the richness of the story, the grandness and generosity of the sentiments, and the deep human insight. I find this old translation to be just lovely. I can open it to many a page and just read, like lovely poetry, for the beauty of the language. But it is most worthwhile for the depth of humanity that Hugo shows thru his precious character. Such Jean Valjean who stole my heart. As I mentioned in my headline the book is a must read. It would be a crime to miss this wonderful - you are among the miserable of the earth in a very different sense if you don't take the time to read it. Another wonderful element is the sense of history that you get from it. The Napoleonic wars still inspired passion. It's great to see the battle of Waterloo recounted from the French side. There a forty or fifty page chapter that is worth reading for the history alone - all triggered as an aside to explain why Valjean was convicted a second time despite his good works, because, in court, he referred in passing to Napoleon as "the Emperor." It brings history alive in a way that history books alone do not at times. And I usally look for those since I am a huge history buff. For anyone else who luvs to jog back into history pick up this book. It's definately worth the read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book of all time. It is filled with great characters that one would sincerily care about, and has an unforgettable, yet sometimes misunderstood hero. I VERY highly recommend this book to all!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Not like the play." You're joking, right? You do realize the play was based off the novel (which was written approximately a hundred and fifty years ago) and not the other way around? Les Miserables is quite possibly the most brilliant work of all classic literature. Personally, I prefer the unabridged version, but I can understand why people would want the abridged, as Hugo does tend to get a bit long-winded... I was told once that authors back then were paid by the page or the word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's in French, so non-French speakers beware
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this after enjoying the movie, unaware of its size. It took me a month to complete. Excepting this fact, and a few confusing tidbits here and there, this book is astounding. Hugo's writing is amazing, and I grew attached to every single one of the characters. It is most definently worth the time and money. And its not too terribly hard to understand- I was 12 when I read it and understood it fine. You have no excuse to not buy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot read French.
Dianadomino More than 1 year ago
I keep missing parts of the book. This is no good for someone who already loves great literature and is trying to re-read.
jval24601 More than 1 year ago
Victor Hugo is to France what Abraham Lincoln is to the United States, What Mohandas Ghandi is to India. Les Miserables is not a work of Fiction in the simple sense - It is a vision from the mind of the great French Visionary, a tale from the mind of a man made a hero by his own humanity. It may sound cliche, I know - but this book has the ability to change your life...that is, assuming your willing to let that happen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
French version. Wish it would say that in description!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it a few years ago and fell in love w the characters. The situations and the tragities moved me.
Claude59 More than 1 year ago
No other story summarises so many human aspects as this one: forgiveness, sacrifice, passion, love, greed and deception. A masterpiece of literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite a large number of typos in the 1996 B&N unabridged edition, every word in it marks two masters--Hugo as editor, and Wilbour as translator. Don't lose out by choosing an abridged edition! All 1222 pages of the 1996 ed. are worth reading--twice.
theReaper1 More than 1 year ago
The books are always better than the movie and they're are no scenes you've seen coming and you have to think this book deserves a five
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For what you pay, it's great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
.....useless unless you can read French.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What are you talking about? It is NOT in French!! Sure, the original nineteenth century novel is, but there are many versions translated to English. And why are you on here anyway if you're not reviewing the book? I already wrote my review a while back on this AND the Hapgood translation. (Here that? TRANSLATION. Such as, English translation.) Okay, sorry that I'm being rude 'cause that's really not my nature, but I'm a bit defensive because I LOVE this book and musical, and I think Victor Hugo was a genius, and I hope to read Les Miz in French one day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie adored it and im a bookworm should i read it? Rating for movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this great novel!!! I couldn't put it down! Victor Hugo depicts a world that makes you feel the power of emotions from love to hatrid. One of the best books I've ever read !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Barnes & Noble really should not sell a classics edition of an abridged novel. If they want their classics books to be authoritative, they need to be unabridged. Nobody should read an abridged book, and nobody should be accepting of having other people make the decision for them of what is important and not.
Gryphon79 More than 1 year ago
If you're really up to it and like a good long book, the unabridged is about 4500 pages, but it's divided into 5 volumes and then the books in each, it's enough to keep you busy for a while :) I do like Hugo's writing style, it's descriptive in a way that it pulls you in, wanting to know more about what's going on, it s interesting the further you get into it. I don't feel bogged down as much anyway because I already got to the third chapter and pretty much get what's going on. Don't want to give spoilers away but I think anyone who appreciates classics and is familiar to this story even after watching the movie will be in for a treat. I read Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame and just like his style of writing. He's interesting :)
LaLettrice More than 1 year ago
Why are people saying this is in French? Barnes & Noble (who publishes this edition) does not publish in French. I'll throw in a 5 star because it's a great book. I would recommend the unabridged but if 1463 pages is a bit daunting to you, at least pick up this version.