In this major new rendition by the acclaimed translator Julie Rose, Victor Hugo’s tour de force, Les Misérables, is revealed in its full unabridged glory. A favorite of readers for nearly 150 years, and the basis for one of the most beloved stage musicals ever, this stirring tale of crime, punishment, justice, and redemption pulses with life and energy. Hugo 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.
First published in 1862, this sprawling novel is an extravagant historical epic that is teeming with harrowing adventures and unforgettable characters. In the protagonist, Jean Valjean, a quintessential prisoner of conscience who languished for years in prison for stealing bread to feed his starving family, Les Misérables depicts one of the grand themes in literature–that of the hunted man. Woven into the narrative are the prevalent social issues of Hugo’s day: injustice, authoritarian rule, social inequality, civic unrest. And this new translation brings astonishing vivacity and depth to Hugo’s immortal dramatis personae–the relentless police detective Javert, the saintly bishop Myriel, the tragic prostitute Fantine and her innocent daughter, Cosette, the dashing lover Marius, and many others whom Jean Valjean encounters on his path to sublime sacrifice.
Featuring an Introduction by the award-winning journalist and author Adam Gopnik, this Modern Library edition is an outstanding, authoritative translation of a masterpiece, a literary high-wire act that continues to astonish, stimulate, enlighten, and entertain readers around the world.
About 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.
Date of Birth:February 26, 1802
Date of Death:May 22, 1885
Place of Birth:Besançon, France
Place of Death:Paris, France
Education:Pension Cordier, Paris, 1815-18
Read an Excerpt
I. Monsieur Myriel
In 1815, Monsieur Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel was bishop of Digne.1 He was an elderly man of about seventy-five and he had occupied the seat of Digne since 1806.
There is something we might mention that has no bearing whatsoever on the tale we have to tell—not even on the background. Yet it may well serve some purpose, if only in the interests of precision, to jot down here the rumors and gossip that had circulated about him the moment he first popped up in the diocese. True or false, what is said about people often has as much bearing on their lives and especially on their destinies as what they do. Monsieur Myriel was the son of a councillor of the Aix parliament, a member of the noblesse de robe.2 They reckoned his father had put him down to inherit his position and so had married him off very early in the piece when he was only eighteen or twenty, as they used to do quite a lot in parliamentary families. Charles Myriel, married or no, had, they said, set tongues wagging. He was a good-looking young man, if on the short side, elegant, charming, and witty; he had given the best years of his life thus far to worldly pursuits and love affairs. Then the Revolution came along, events spiraled, parliamentary families were wiped out, chased away, hunted, scattered. Monsieur Charles Myriel emigrated to Italy soon after the Revolution broke out. His wife died there of the chest infection she’d had for ages. They had no children. What happened next in the destiny of Monsieur Myriel? The collapse of the old society in France, the fall of his own family, the tragic scenes of ’93,3 which were, perhaps, even more frightening for émigrés4 watching them from afar with the magnifying power of dread—did these things cause notions of renunciation and solitude to germinate in his mind? Was he, in the middle of the distractions and amorous diversions that filled his life, suddenly hit by one of those mysterious and terrible jolts that sometimes come and strike at the heart, bowling over the man public calamities couldn’t shake, threatening as these did only his existence and his fortune? No one could say; all that was known was that, when he came back from Italy, he was a priest.
In 1804,5 Monsieur Myriel was the curé of Brignolles.6 He was already old and lived like a real recluse in profound seclusion.
Around the time of the coronation, a small parish matter—who can remember what now?—took him to Paris. Among other powerful persons, he called on Cardinal Fesch,7 Napoléon’s uncle, to petition him on his parishioners’ behalf. One day when the emperor was visiting his uncle, the worthy curé, who was waiting in the anteroom, found himself in His Majesty’s path. Napoléon, seeing the old boy give him the once-over with a certain curiosity, wheeled round and said brusquely: “Who is this little man staring at me?”
“Your Majesty,” said Monsieur Myriel, “you see a little man, and I see a great man. Both of us may benefit.”
That very night, the emperor asked the cardinal what the curé’s name was and some time after that Monsieur Myriel was stunned to learn that he’d been named bishop of Digne.
But, when all’s said and done, what was true in the tales told about the first phase of Monsieur Myriel’s life? No one could tell. Few families had known the Myriel family before the Revolution.
Monsieur Myriel had to endure the fate of every newcomer in a small town, where there are always plenty of mouths blathering and not many brains working. He had to endure it even though he was the bishop, and because he was the bishop. But, after all, the talk in which his name cropped up was perhaps nothing more than talk; hot air, babble, words, less than words, pap, as the colorful language of the Midi8 puts it.
Whatever the case, after nine years as the resident bishop of Digne, all the usual gossip that initially consumes small towns and small people had died and sunk without a trace. No one would have dared bring it up, no one would have dared remember what it was.
Monsieur Myriel arrived in Digne accompanied by an old spinster, Mademoiselle Baptistine, who was his sister and ten years his junior.
They had only one servant, a woman the same age as Mademoiselle Baptistine, called Madame Magloire. Having been the servant of Monsieur le curé, she now went by the double title of personal maid to Mademoiselle and housekeeper to Monseigneur.9
Mademoiselle Baptistine was a tall, pale, thin, sweet person, the personification of that ideal expressed by the word respectable; for it seems a woman must be a mother to be esteemed. She had never been pretty, but her entire life, which had been merely a succession of holy works, had ended up laying a sort of whiteness and brightness over her; as she aged, she had gained what you could describe as the beauty of goodness. What had been skinniness in her youth had become transparency with maturity; and this diaphanous quality revealed the angel within. She was more of a spirit than a virgin. She seemed a mere shadow with scarcely enough of a body to have a gender; just a bit of matter bearing a light, with great big eyes always lowered to the ground, an excuse for a spirit to remain on earth.
Madame Magloire was a little old lady, white skinned, plump, round, busy, always wheezing, first because of always bustling about and second because of her asthma.
When he first arrived, Monsieur Myriel was set up in his episcopal palace with all the honors required by imperial decree, which ranked bishops immediately after field marshals.10 The mayor and the president of the local council were the first to visit him, and on his side, he made his first visits to the general and the chief of police.
Once he had moved in, the town waited to see their bishop on the job.
II. Monsieur Myriel Becomes Monseigneur Bienvenu
The episcopal palace of Digne was next door to the hospital. The episcopal palace was a vast and handsome town house built in stone at the beginning of the previous century by Monseigneur Henri Puget, doctor of theology of the faculty of Paris and abbé of Simore,1 who had been bishop of Digne in 1712. The palace was truly a mansion fit for a lord. Everything about it was on the grand scale, the bishop’s apartments, the drawing rooms, the bedrooms, the main courtyard, which was huge, with covered arcades in the old Florentine style, and the gardens planted with magnificent trees. It was in the dining room, which was a long and superb gallery on the ground floor opening onto the grounds, that Monseigneur Henri Puget had, on July 29, 1714, ceremoniously fed the ecclesiastical dignitaries, Charles Brûlart de Genlis, archbishop prince of Embrun, Antoine de Mesgrigny, Capuchin bishop of Grasse, Philippe de Vendôme, grand prior of France, abbé of Saint-Honoré de Lérins, François de Berton de Crillon, bishop baron of Vence, César de Sabran de Forcalquier, lord bishop and lord of Glandève, and Jean Soanen, priest of the oratory, preacher in ordinary to the king, lord bishop of Senez.2 The portraits of these seven reverend fathers embellished the dining room and the memorable date of July 29, 1714, was engraved there in gold lettering on a white marble panel.
The hospital was a low, narrow, single-story house with a small garden.
Three days after his arrival, the bishop visited the hospital. When his visit was over, he politely begged the director to accompany him back to his place.
“Monsieur le directeur, how many sick people do you have in your hospital at the moment?”
“That’s what I counted,” said the bishop.
“The beds are all jammed together,” the director went on.
“That’s what I noticed.”
“The living areas are just bedrooms, and they’re difficult to air.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Then again, when there’s a ray of sun, the garden’s too small for the convalescents.”
“That’s what I said to myself.”
“As for epidemics, we’ve had typhus this year, and two years ago we had miliary fever—up to a hundred were down with it at any one time. We don’t know what to do.”
“The thought did strike me.”
“What can we do, Monseigneur?” said the director. “You have to resign yourself to it.”
This conversation took place in the dining-room gallery on the ground floor. The bishop fell silent for a moment, then suddenly turned to the hospital director.
“Monsieur,” he said, “how many beds do you think you could get in this room alone?”
“Monseigneur’s dining room?” cried the astonished director.
The bishop sized up the room, giving the impression he was taking measurements and making calculations by eye alone.
“It could easily hold twenty beds!” he mumbled, as though talking to himself. Then he spoke more loudly. “Look, my dear director, I’ll tell you what. There has obviously been a mistake. There are twenty-six of you in five or six small rooms. There are three of us here and we’ve got enough room for sixty. There’s been a mistake, I’m telling you. You’ve got my place and I’ve got yours. Give me back my house. This is your rightful home, here.”
The next day, the twenty-six poor were moved into the bishop’s palace and the bishop was at the hospital.
Monsieur Myriel had no property, his family having lost everything in the Revolution. His sister got an annuity of five hundred francs, which was enough for her personal expenses, living at the presbytery. Monsieur Myriel received a salary of fifteen thousand francs from the government as bishop. The very day he moved into the hospital, Monsieur Myriel decided once and for all to put this sum to use as follows. We transcribe here the note written in his hand.
For the small seminary 1500 livres
Mission congregation 100 livres
For the Lazarists of Montdidier 100 livres
Seminary of foreign missions in Paris 200 livres
Congregation of the Saint-Esprit 150 livres
Religious institutions in the Holy Land 100 livres
Societies of maternal charity 300 livres
For the one at Arles 50 livres
For the betterment of prisons 400 livres
For the relief and release of prisoners 500 livres
For the release of fathers of families imprisoned for debt 1000 livres
Salary supplement for poor schoolteachers in the diocese 2000 livres
Upper Alps public granary 100 livres
Ladies’ Association of Digne, Manosque, and Sisteron,3 for the free education of poor girls 1500 livres
For the poor 6000 livres
My personal expenses 1000 livres
total 15000 livres
The whole time Monsieur Myriel held the see of Digne, he made almost no change in this arrangement—what he called, as we shall see, “taking care of his household expenses.”
Mademoiselle Baptistine accepted the arrangement with absolute submission. For this devout spinster, Myriel was both her brother and her bishop, the friend she grew up with and her superior according to ecclesiastical authority. Quite simply, she loved him and revered him. When he spoke, she listened, and when he took action, she was right behind him. Only the servant, Madame Magloire, grumbled a bit. As you will have noticed, the bishop kept only a thousand livres for himself which, added to Mademoiselle Baptistine’s pension, meant fifteen hundred francs a year. The two old women and the old man all lived on those fifteen hundred francs.
And when some village curé came to Digne, the bishop still managed to find a way of entertaining him, thanks to the assiduous scrimping and saving of Madame Magloire and Mademoiselle Baptistine’s clever management.
One day, when the bishop had been in Digne for about three months, he said, “With all that, things are pretty tight!”
“They certainly are!” cried Madame Magloire. “Monseigneur hasn’t even claimed the money the département owes him for the upkeep of his carriage in town and his rounds in the diocese. In the old days, that was standard for bishops.”
“You’re right, Madame Magloire!” the bishop agreed. And he put in his claim.
A short while later, after considering this application, the department council voted him an annual stipend of three thousand francs, under the heading, Bishop’s Allowance for Carriage Upkeep, Postal Costs, and Travel Expenses Incurred in Pastoral Rounds.
The local bourgeoisie was up in arms over this and an imperial senator,4 who had been a member of the Council of Five Hundred5 promoting the Eighteenth Brumaire and was now provided with a magnificent senatorial seat near Digne township, wrote a cranky little private letter to the minister of public worship, Monsieur Bigot de Préameneu.6 We produce here a genuine extract of a few lines:
“Carriage upkeep? Whatever for, in a town with less than four thousand people? Travel expenses incurred in pastoral rounds? To start with, what’s the good of them anyway? And then, how the hell does he do the rounds by post chaise in such mountainous terrain? There are no roads. One has to proceed on horseback. Even the bridge over the Durance at Château-Arnoux7 can barely take a bullock-drawn cart. All these priests are the same. Greedy and tight. This one played the good apostle when he first turned up. Now he acts like all the rest. He must have a carriage and a post chaise. He must have luxury, the same as the old bishops. Oh, these bloody clergy! Monsieur le comte, things will only come good when the emperor has delivered us from these pious swine. Down with the pope! [Things were not good with Rome at that point.]8 As for me, I’m for Caesar alone.” And so on and so forth.
Madame Magloire, on the other hand, was delighted.
“Hooray!” she said to Mademoiselle Baptistine. “Monseigneur put the others first but he’s wound up having to think of himself, finally. He’s fixed up all his charities. Here’s three thousand livres for us. At last!”
The same night, the bishop wrote a note, which he handed to his sister. It went like this:
carriage upkeep and travel expenses
Beef broth for the sick in the hospital 1500 livres
For the society of maternal charity of Aix 250 livres
For the society of maternal charity of Draguignan 250 livres
For abandoned children 500 livres
For orphans 500 livres
total 3000 livres
And that was Monsieur Myriel’s budget.
As for the cost of episcopal services, redemptions, dispensations, baptisms, sermons, consecrations of churches and chapels, marriages and so on, the bishop took from the rich all the more greedily for giving it all to the poor.
It wasn’t long before offerings of money poured in. The haves and the have-nots all knocked on Monsieur Myriel’s door, some coming in search of the alms that the others had just left. In less than a year, the bishop became treasurer of all works of charity and cashier to all those in distress. Large sums passed through his hands, but nothing could make him change his style of life in the slightest or get him to embellish his spartan existence by the faintest touch of the superfluous.
Far from it. As there is always more misery at the bottom of the ladder than there is fraternity at the top, everything was given away, so to speak, before it was received, like water on thirsty soil. A lot of good it did him to be given money, he never had any. And so, he robbed himself.
The custom being for bishops to put their full baptismal names at the head of their mandates and pastoral letters, the poor people of the area had chosen, out of a sort of affectionate instinct, the one among all the bishop’s various names that made the most sense to them, and so they called him Monseigneur Bienvenu—Welcome. We’ll do likewise whenever the occasion arises. Besides, the nickname tickled him.
“I like that name,” he said. “Bienvenu pulls Monseigneur into line.”
We are not saying that the portrait of the man we offer here is accurate; we will restrict ourselves to the claim that it is a passing likeness.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Hey Man you can't believe how long this book is until you've finished reading it. A European literature classic for sure.
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!!!
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.
1285 nook pages. if you doubt this is the full unabridged version look at the file size; 4MB for a ebook is f*cking huge.
This is a great classic. I love it. What's more is that it's an extremely affordable: it 's only 99 cents!!!
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.
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.
I'm a freshman in high school and it's great! I loved it so much. I've seen the play, have the video, the soundtrack, and the piano book. My friend played in that broadway show (unfortunately it shut down) and i saw him there. But when I read the book...wowwww its great! It shows you to appreciate things a little more and the story is so lovely.Buy it and see how it goes. Your mind won't get out of it for a couple of days! So please read it and enjoy it as much as you can!
If ever a man tried to capture the soul of a human in a book- this is probably the closest one would get. I am quite a fan of Les Miserables. I was half way through the book when I saw the musical for the first time. Since then, I own or have heard all 4 common English recordings and 2 French ones. The book is definitely better than the musical- and far better than that 1998 movie that bears its name. It is the story of Jean Valjean, the convict who broke his parole and lead a new life- which was always getting mixed up with his old one. All the characters in this story teach the reader a good many things. From the dishonest Thenardiers to those bent on the law like Javert and those trying to reform it, as les Amis de l'ABC, this book is full of lessons to be learned. It's worth the money and the time. It was quite a while ago that I read it the first time- and it took me months to pour through. But it was worth it.
This book was amazing. I first picked it up in sixth grade and couldn't put it down! This book is so moving and is a masterpiece of nineteen century literature. A must read for anyone that loves the classics!
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.
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.)
Victor Hugo brings you back to 19th century France with his vivid and amazing writing...You live with Jean Valjean through his times with the chain gang, you are with him on the run, and you understand his never-ending seek for redemption. You are with poor Cosette, the girl on the cover, through her abuse, and finally her love. You are with her mother, Fantine, from her horrible beginning to her peaceful ending...And you storm the barricades with Enjolras and the revolutionary students... You understand why the title means 'the miserables ones'. What is 'Les Miserables'? Well, it is simply revolutionary...
'Les Miserables' is the best book I have ever read. The story of Jean Valjean is more than sad; it completely justifies the title 'The Miserables.'
hugos classic, les miserables is my all time favorite book! its the story of jean valjean, a criminal trying to outrun his past who is hounded by javert the police officer. It has unforgetable characters like gavroche and cossete, i couldn't put it down, you must read this book!!
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is a magnificent novel, I had a wonderful time reading it. At times it was difficult to understand, and the whole book was challenging (but somrtimes we need a good challenge!) When you here Jean Valjean's story sometimes you think you must feel just as miserable as he does. A few examples are that in the begining of the book you learn that Jean spent almost 20 long years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's seven starving children. You must think that Jean would be cold and mean...and brute to everyone he ment after this experiance, but he was not. In fact Jean became one of the most giving men I have ever met. And this says alot, for Jean didn't have much himself, and he was still a convict on the run. Another example when Jean takes in a child named Cossete. Jean learns to love this girl, and soon feels that he is in fact her true father. As Cossete grows older, it seems she changes from a plain little girl to a beutiful young woman over night. When she notices this she also starts to notice a kind looking young man that she see's (but dosen't speek to) often. When these two individuals meet sparks fly...but they are torn bye the fact that they may never see each other again. Would you like to know what happens to Cosette and this man? Well i'm not going to tell you, you'll just have to read this book to find out. And i do highly recomend this book.
This book is very tick and very long. It's took me a very long time to read it and understand it.This book is about Jena Valjean, who help unfortunate people in anyway he can. It's tell about how our society was liek from the past and now. I think its an okay book because i dont like to read. This book is related to our world society and our history.
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.
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.
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.
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.