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Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Les Misérables (1862)

by Victor Hugo

Other authors: Pierre de Beaumont (Author), Charles Keeping (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
17,82324297 (4.27)946
  1. 190
    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père (VictoriaPL)
  2. 80
    Silas Marner by George Eliot (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Both great classics, with orphaned girls and themes of redemption.
  3. 81
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (chrisharpe)
  4. 71
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: As much a story about the trials of individuals as a sweeping portrait and critique of an era.
  5. 61
    The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Both stories of men who commit public crimes ... and yet the outcomes are very different.
  6. 30
    The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes by Anonymous (albavirtual)
  7. 30
    The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo (raton-liseur)
    raton-liseur: Des thèmes similaires, dans une prose étourdissante et avec une ironie mordante.
  8. 10
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (CorinneT)
  9. 10
    Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (morryb)
    morryb: Both speak to the struggle of adopting a child and then letting them up later.
  10. 10
    Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Cast of interconnected characters are subjected to historical pressures through years-worth of events surrounding a revolution. Issues of paternity and social justice.
  11. 10
    The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni (chrisharpe)
  12. 10
    Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (morryb)
    morryb: Both have a main character who adopts a daughter and the struggle of letting her go.
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English (220)  French (5)  Spanish (5)  Italian (3)  Norwegian (2)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Aragonese Spanish (1)  Piratical (1)  All (242)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.
  Cultural_Attache | Jul 15, 2018 |
Loved this book! ( )
  Jinjer.Hundley | Mar 24, 2018 |
Phenomenal book - I read the unabridged version years ago & it left quite an impression on me. Hugo goes into such rich descriptions (sometimes too rich - 9 page descriptions of 19th century Parisian streets, anyone?) & you really feel like you are there. I plan to re-read it again one day. ( )
  Adam_Z | Mar 19, 2018 |
This is a re-read of this gargantuan classic novel of French, and indeed world, literature, prompted by watching the marvellous musical at the Queen's Theatre at the end of February. The novel is just as deep and splendid and thought-provoking as on my previous read ten years ago; but its faults also struck me now with renewed force. The main faults are the lengthy digressions on slang, sewers, monastical conventions, the Battle of Waterloo and other cultural and historical braindumps, which distract from the main plot and can, frankly, just be skipped, especially on a second read. I think these digressions struck me even more forcibly this time round, as the musical version brings out clearly the essential plot themes of redemption and forgiveness and the wonderful central characters, Jean Valjean, Cosette, Marius, Fantine, Javert and Thenardier in particular, without those distractions. I am generally a firm opponent of abridged works of literature, but this is one case where an exception can be made. At its best though it is a majestic work exposing injustices and poverty in early 19th century France and is rightly a classic of world literature. ( )
1 vote john257hopper | Mar 19, 2018 |
Gotta say I was seriously conflicted with this one, and I was thiiiiis close to giving it a mere 3/5. But.

For starters, I am going to say that this book had issues. Serious issues. As I find myself lacking in eloquence right now, I hope this nice little quote will suffice instead. And to give credit where credit is due, I will mention that it is from the Norman Denny introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of the book.

"That is the trouble. The defects which the Goncourts saw, and which no one can fail to see, since they are as monumental as the book itself, may be summed up in the single word, extravagance. Hugo, although as the final result shows he was masterly in the construction of his novel, had little or no regard for the discipline of novel-writing. He was wholly unrestrained and unsparing of his reader. He had to say everything and more than everything; he was incapable of leaving anything out. The book is loaded down with digressions, interpolated discourses, passages of moralizing rhetoric and pedagogic disquisitions."

I can't have said it better myself. This book had a great story to tell, with so many good themes - redemption, forgiveness, guilt, sacrifice, poverty... It had wonderful, unforgettable characters (among my favorites: Monsieur Gillenormand, Éponine, Jean Valjean, Gavroche, Enjolras), and it painted a very memorable picture of events such as the 1932 uprising. The writing was exquisite and poetic. But. Again we get to that so crucial "but".

Hugo really didn't know where to stop and as Denny says, he never spares his reader. Moments of great tension are dispelled with long rants and philosophical discourses on subjects that are usually of no great relevance to the story. And even though these musings are for the most part interesting in themselves, they do not contribute to the readability or the richness of the story and only dilute it with passages of extreme over-extrapolation or encyclopaedic parroting of facts. (We know you did your research, Hugo, no need to prove it in such a painful way. And, just saying, it didn't prevent you from making a number of factual errors. Thank you, footnotes.) My version was even slightly abridged, and yet it still took me 7-9 months to read it! This is outrageous. I won't deny that the book is very long, but I have managed books this size in less than 2 weeks, even if they weren't always immensely interesting. I'm not saying this to boast, just to underline the fact that it is really exceptional that a book can bore me to this degree and cause me to drag myself through it so slowly. Victor Hugo, I want to read about Jean Valjean, and right now I do not care about the details of the battle of Waterloo (a whole 69 pages, mon Dieu!) or of convent life (I know your sister or whoever was a nun, but come on).

Other issues: While some characters were wonderful and refreshing, there was also a number of very lacklustre persons. Case in point: Marius and Cosette. Yawn. They were both quite uninteresting, and especially Cosette was unabashedly perfect and innocent (a common trope in the 1800's, but still) to an annoying level. Not to mention the ABC society. The only ones in there that I actually remember as something other than just names are Enjolras and Grantaire, largely because they died at the tavern together. They were both nice characters, no complaints here, but the rest - Joly, Combeferre, Courfeyac, etc. - are completely faceless to me. Hugo could have done a better job there. I mean, it's not as if he had restrictions on length or anything.

Also: The incredible amount of coincidences. I gathered from Denny's most informative and interesting introduction (a very rare thing, might I add) that Hugo meant Les Mis to be a novel in the genre of social realism. He failed with the realism part, in any case. The fact that Gavroche wants to steal apples or whatever from Monsieur Mabeuf, or that he happens upon his two abandoned brothers (hey, what happened to them...?), or that Jean Valjean meets Thenardier in the sewers and Javert on the river bank, et cetera, et cetera. One gets the impression that Paris is the size of a small mountain village, judging by the sheer amount of unexpected meetings amongst the characters. That was annoying and it was painfully obvious to me as a reader. And come to think of Gavroche's brothers, I suppose there weren't any other loose ends I can think of. I mean everyone else pretty much died, so...

I think it's worth mentioning one more time that Les Mis has its undoubtable qualities, and I understand completely how it has continued to be a favourite of so many people. Hugo's prose is so stunning and poetic (I cannot emphasise this enough), and most of the characters and plot that he creates are interesting and relatable. Jean Valjean especially is so incredible - a character of such rare depth and complexity. And Hugo was able to convey that so masterfully - all the inner struggles and conflicts, the moments of elation and bliss. I just wish he had used more of those 1200+ pages on that.

So all in all, I really liked it, although I can't forgive Hugo for his digressions, even though some of them were actually interesting (really loved the part about the sewers and Waterloo).

If this book were half its length, it would probably be a 5-star novel.

Note: Norman Denny's translation was very readable, and I believe it captures the spirit of Hugo's prose perfectly, even though I've heard it wasn't as true to the original text as some other translations. But as he states himself in the introduction, it's more important to look at the author's intent than the specific words themselves. ( )
2 vote bulgarianrose | Mar 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (176 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hugo, Victorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beaumont, Pierre deAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Keeping, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bayard, Emile AntoineCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Denny, NormanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Donougher, ChristineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hapgood, Isabel FlorenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Picchi, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rose, JulieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabard, Marie-Hélènesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serdav, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thirlwell, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tombs, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilbour, Charles E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wraxall, LascellesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Solange kraft der Gesetze und Sitten eine soziale Verdammnis existiert, die auf künstlichem Weg, inmitten einer hoch entwickelten Zivilisation, Höllen schafft
First words
In the Year 1815 Monseigneur Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of Digne.
So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of the earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century - the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light - are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world - in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Miserables cannot fail to be of use. (Preface)
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This work represents complete editions. Please do not combine with the first volume of multi-volume editions.
This "work" contains copies without enough information. The title might refer to the book by Victor Hugo or one of its (movie) adaptations, so this "work" should not be combined with any of them. If you are an owner of one of these copies, please add information such as author name or ISBN that can help identify its rightful home. After editing your copy, it might still need further separation and recombination work. Feel free to ask in the Combiners! group if you have questions or need help. Thanks.
Florence Hapgood is a translator, not the original author of this work. The original author is Victor Hugo. If you have Florence Hapgood as the author, please substitute Hugo and put her down as a translator. Thank you.
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Ce prost sunt! îşi zise Jean Valjean. Nu-l remarcase încă şi i-l arăt chiar eu.
O, naivitate a bătrânilor! Înţelepciune a copiilor!
Haiku summary
A fugitive man
gets a new name and new life.
He adopts a girl.


Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451525264, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:16 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

Story of Valjean, the ex-convict who rises against all odds from galley slave to mayor, and the fanatical police inspector who dedicates his life to recapturing Valjean.

» see all 59 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140444300, 1846140498, 0141392606


An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102758, 1400109000

HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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