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Les Misérables (1862)

by Victor Hugo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
26,382341116 (4.26)4 / 1105
Classic Literatur Fictio HTML:

Book lovers of all ages owe it to themselves to conquer this masterwork of nineteenth-century fiction from Victor Hugo, also author of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. One hundred and fifty years after the original publication of Les Miserables, the heart-rending story of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette and dozens of others of France's downtrodden and dispossessed continues to capture the imaginations of audiences around the world.… (more)

  1. 220
    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (VictoriaPL)
  2. 101
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (chrisharpe)
  3. 101
    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.
  4. 80
    Silas Marner by George Eliot (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Both great classics, with orphaned girls and themes of redemption.
  5. 71
    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 Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo (raton-liseur)
    raton-liseur: Des thèmes similaires, dans une prose étourdissante et avec une ironie mordante.
  7. 30
    The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes by Anónimo (albavirtual)
  8. 20
    The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (CorinneT)
  9. 10
    The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni (chrisharpe)
  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
    Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (morryb)
    morryb: Both have a main character who adopts a daughter and the struggle of letting her go.
  12. 10
    Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (morryb)
    morryb: Both speak to the struggle of adopting a child and then letting them up later.
Europe (14)
Elevenses (192)
1860s (6)
100 (16)
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English (301)  Spanish (9)  French (9)  Italian (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Finnish (2)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (2)  Piratical (1)  Aragonese Spanish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (333)
Showing 1-5 of 301 (next | show all)
This book had been on my unread shelf for a really long time -- a decade! Out of curiosity and need for encouragement, I created a GoodReads poll asking which unread book (I named seven) should I read next, in 2024. Les Misérables received the most, with 1/3 of the votes.

Staying true to the results, I began reading Les Misérables on January 1, and also discovered and joined a Les Miz read-along via Instagram. Unfortunately, I did not utilize the read-along, and quickly my expedition became a read-alone. And unlike the group, I was reading an abridged version. Given the size of the abridged, I was not about to exchange it for the unabridged.

Before starting, I had limited knowledge of the plot and characters, which I had obtained over the years through various children's versions, musical theater, and the 25th Anniversary concert at the O2 Arena in London (which is awesome). Naturally, reading the abridged novel filled in missing information, connected relationships, and introduced me to countless new characters.

Usually, with a tome like this, I prefer to write about my reading experience, rather than give a long review since readers have either already read it and know everything there is to know, or readers have not read it and do not want to be exposed to spoilers. This post is about how I did not fan over Les Misérables, yet, why I gave it four stars anyway.

Firstly, I rated it four stars because I did value some of the background features about characters, history, and places, which demonstrated depth and thoroughness to detail. Obviously, this was an important work to Hugo, and he took great care to write this novel.

Secondly, Hugo touched on all the major emotional themes of humanity: injustice, poverty, misery, compassion, sacrifice, selflessness, grace, redemption, forgiveness, love, hope, mercy, empathy, and morality. Engaged readers may find themselves cheering for particular characters and burning with retribution for others.

And thirdly, a major part of Les Misérables displayed the good side of humankind, that which warms hearts and produces hope. Maybe it even inspires readers to do what is good and right.

But now about why I did not fan over this novel.

For one, I was not overall moved while reading this. I read through it, not lived through it. While I recognized the scope, weight, and worth of the novel, as explained above, personally, it was more of a three-star experience.

As I have explained, it was excessively drawn out in places, and while I have not complained about long and drawn out works in the past, lately I no longer have a desire to peruse a long book. Does anyone else feel this way too? I say lately because this is new with me, in these last few years. When I look at the remaining tomes on my unread shelf, I know I am avoiding them, partly because I am not interested in the commitment. I only made myself read Les Miz because it was time. Unfortunately, I endured through the extensive storytelling as unimportant and grumbled as it veered off in tangents that I did not care about.

Now, a second and more concerning matter is that the Christian gospel message seemed obscured. I know, I know! An author is not required to share the gospel message, but my pet peeve is when the gospel message is rescinded by or equated with doing good works. While some point to the bishop showing grace toward Jean Valjean as the moment he gave his life to Christ -- I understood this as the Bishop "bought [Valjean's] life for God," and it was not explicit that Valjean made the personal decision to get right with God because of what Christ did for him. The bishop gave Valjean a second chance, a challenge, to live for God from now on or, what appeared for the remainder of the story, to do good works indefinitely. But I do not recall a time when Valjean recognized his depravity and corruption, the pending wrath of God, his need for a Savior, then, his repentance, and finally, a turning to Christ as his Lord and Savior for what Jesus did on the cross.

I was a definitely exasperated by Valjean's excessive, obsessive, bizarre behavior to continuously do good and right, to the point where he was often in mental peril and conflict; this novel felt like another one of those that placed good works on the same plane as the Christian gospel. Maybe I missed the gospel spelled out, but all I remember is Valjean's continuous striving for doing good. Of course, in the end, he wins the prize, which was obvious. But let it not be because he did good. This would be false promotion.

Maybe I am being legalistic or grumpy (like Javert, the law follower). Valjean obeyed the law of Christ moreso, to love one's neighbor as himself. He sacrificed for others and put others above himself. That is not arguable. Nonetheless, I was uncomfortable to think that maybe Hugo was making him a representation of Christ because of his ongoing sacrificial works. If Hugo meant to exploit good works and overshadow the reason we need the gospel message of Christ's sacrifice, then I am struggling with the story. But if I missed the clear gospel message that we are not good and therefore need a Savior, and that our good works are not to earn salvation but out of our graciousness for what Christ did for us, then I stand corrected.

And that is really all I have to say about it. I probably will never read it again. However, I will always watch the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena, over and over again, because if nothing else, Les Misérables makes an poignant musical.

* * * ( )
  GRLopez | May 2, 2024 |
My favourite book in the entire world, I love it so much. ( )
  Mr.neatman | Feb 4, 2024 |
Les Misérables is a remarkable book significant for its well-crafted characters and moral vision that is still relevant even today. However, it's not an easy read as it is full of tangents. Even for those who frequently read 19th-century literature, Les Misérables can be quite challenging. Some chapters are composed of obscure references that may not be easily comprehensible to Les Misérables is an exceptional book known for its well-crafted characters and a moral vision that is still relevant today. However, it's not an easy read as it is full of tangents. Even for those who frequently read 19th-century literature, Les Misérables can be quite challenging. Some of the chapters contain obscure references that may not be easily understandable to modern readers. Nevertheless, these tangents are not necessarily a bad thing. Some readers may find them interesting, while others may find them dull, depending on their interests. The chapters on Waterloo and the Parisian sewer system are among the most intriguing ones. In summary, Les Misérables is a worthwhile but challenging read, filled with memorable characters and a moral vision that should be common sense.modern readers, but they are not essential to the story. Nevertheless, the tangents are not necessarily a bad thing. Some readers may find them interesting, while others may find them dull, depending on their interests. For instance, the chapters on Waterloo and the Parisian sewer system are among the most intriguing ones.Les Misérables is a good book and an important one, filled with memorable characters and a moral vision that should have (and should be) common sense. It is equally full of tangents. Les Miserable is a very worthwhile read, but it's not always an easy read. Even for those who often read 19th-century literature, Les Mis is on another level. Entire chapters composed of obscure references may be nearly incomprehensible to modern readers, but these chapters are not critical to the story.

The tangents aren't necessarily bad--you'll probably like some and be bored by some depending on your interests; some people are partial to Waterloo and or the Parisian sewer system. ( )
  Huba.Library | Jan 20, 2024 |
A Book More Than 100 Years Old

Although there were several times I was tempted to throw this book across the room in frustration, particularly in the interminable scene of Marius watching through the hole in the wall and "agonizing" whether he should interfere in a possible murder, this was a satisfying read. I did find the repeated coincidental encounters between characters far-fetched in a city the size of Paris (e.g. Valjean and Marius' encounter with Thenadier at the Seine with Javert lying in wait) but Hugo wouldn't have a story without these encounters. And until the very end I was uncertain whether this was a story of redemption or a tragedy. At 1,400+ pages, you have to be invested in the story and characters to get past Hugo's ambling detours, but it's well worth the effort. ( )
  skavlanj | Dec 18, 2023 |
Uma roleta russa de emoções. Me fez chorar.
Esse livro é nota 10. Simplesmente fantástico.
Enredo lindo e comovente do início ao fim, com personagens cativantes e um rico fundo histórico retratado de maneira grandiosa. É praticamente uma aula de história sobre a revolução francesa e as agitações que ocorreram na França no século XIX, abordando a dura realidade da miséria humana e da injustiça, sem deixar de revelar, no entanto, a beleza, a generosidade e a compaixão que podem surgir nas mais variadas situações. ( )
  carolrisan | Nov 16, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 301 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (303 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hugo, Victorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bayard, Émile-AntoineIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Denny, NormanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Donougher, ChristineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fernández Cuesta, NemesioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hapgood, Isabel FlorenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Homewood, BillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kauer, Edmund TheodorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keeping, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehtonen, J. V.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Picchi, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rose, JulieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabard, Marie-Hélènesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serdav, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamaki, JillianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thirlwell, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tombs, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voionmaa, EinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, PeterIntroductionsecondary 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 und noch ein von Menschen gewolltes Fatum zu dem Schicksal, das von Gott kommt, hinzufügt ; solange die drei Probleme des Jahrhunderts, die Entartung des Mannes durch das Proletariat, die Entsittlichung des Weibes infolge materieller Not und die Verwahrlosung des Kindes, nicht gelöst sind ;
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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.
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Classic Literatur Fictio HTML:

Book lovers of all ages owe it to themselves to conquer this masterwork of nineteenth-century fiction from Victor Hugo, also author of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. One hundred and fifty years after the original publication of Les Miserables, the heart-rending story of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette and dozens of others of France's downtrodden and dispossessed continues to capture the imaginations of audiences around the world.

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Book description
Victor Hugo’s literary masterpiece, “Les Miserables,” was first published in 1862 and would ultimately establish the author as one of the most gifted and influential writers of his time. The novel is principally concerned with the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean, a man who is initially imprisoned for stealing bread for his starving family, and because of numerous escape attempts ends up being imprisoned for a period of nineteen years. Jean Valjean, despite his efforts to become a force for good in the world cannot escape the consequences of his criminal past. The novel paints a picture of nineteen century Paris, in all its gritty detail, as a time of great conflict. Themes of moral redemption, politics, justice, and human rights are vividly expressed as Hugo follows the lives and struggles of the lower classes of Parisian society in the 19th century. This sprawling epic is at once a brilliant fictional narrative and a sharp criticism of the social and economic injustice that the countless impoverished peoples of the world have faced. A tale of heroism and love, “Les Miserables,” is justifiably regarded as one of the greatest novels ever written.
Haiku summary
A fugitive man
gets a new name and new life.
He adopts a girl.

(marcusbrutus)

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