Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
(Signet Classics)

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It's a great story, a vivid portrait of post-Napoleonic France, and an unforgettable piece of literature. But ugh, the sentimentality! The manipulative melodramatic devices! The pervasively moralistic platitudes on every single page!
-The Blue Bookcase

Synopsis

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.
 
This Signet Classics edition is the ONLY completely unabridged paperback edition available today.
 
Translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman Macafee, based on the classic nineteenth-century Charles E. Wilbour translation
 
With an Introduction by Lee Fahnestock
and a New Afterword
 
 

About Victor Hugo

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Victor Hugo, born in 1802 in Besancon, France, was one of the leading French authors of the Romantic movement. Although he originally studied law, Hugo dreamed of writing. In 1819, he founded the journal Conservateur Litteraire as an outlet for his dream and soon produced volumes of poetry, plays, and novels. Hugo's most notable works include The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. Published in 1831, The Hunchback of Notre Dame appealed to the public's consciousness concerning society and the treatment of outcasts. It was with the publication of Les Miserables in 1862 that Hugo gained international fame. Another tale of outcasts, this story follows the life of Jean Valjean, a man imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. After his release from prison, Valjean is hunted by the policeman Javert. Full of intricate details, the story also describes the famous Battle of Waterloo. (Hugo's father had been an officer in Napoleon's army.) Both of these works have been adapted for the stage and screen many times. These adaptations include the Walt Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the award-winning musical sensation Les Miserables. In addition to his literary career, Hugo also held political office. In 1841, he was elected to the Academie Francaise. After political upheaval in 1851, he was exiled and remained so until 1870. He returned to Paris in 1871 and was elected to the National Assembly, though he soon resigned. During Hugo's life, he had suffered devastating losses, including the death of his daughter in 1843, his wife in 1868, one son in 1871, and another in 1873. He lived out the rest of his life as a national hero and symbol of excellence, dying on May 22, 1888.
 
Published October 1, 2013 by Signet. 1492 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, History, Travel, Romance. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Les Misérables
All: 8 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 3

Teen Ink

Excellent
Reviewed by Scipio on May 22 2014

...it is indubitably one of the most touching, inspiring, and entertaining novels in the history of modern day literature. Les Misérables is one novel that everyone should read-the sooner the better.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by sv_prav_heb on May 22 2014

Some of the words in this novel may be complicated, and so I recommend the use English to French dictionary. This novel was taken as film in many languages. Hugo set this novel wholly basis on the discrimination of poor and rich which was happening till today.

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Yahoo! Voices

Above average
Reviewed by Shirley A. Hammond on Jan 13 2013

It pays a worthy tribute to Hugo that his book is still widely read, has enjoyed an enduring season on the global stage as a highly celebrated play, and has been repeatedly attempted as a movie. Praise for Hugo...

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Inverarity is not a Scottish village

Above average
on Aug 25 2013

Big, bloated, epic, brilliant, did I mention big and bloated? The characters are memorable, the story is grand, it's definitely a book that belongs on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. But it is not enthralling or a page-turner

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The Blue Bookcase

Below average
Reviewed by Christina on Dec 21 2012

It's a great story, a vivid portrait of post-Napoleonic France, and an unforgettable piece of literature. But ugh, the sentimentality! The manipulative melodramatic devices! The pervasively moralistic platitudes on every single page!

Read Full Review of Les Misérables (Signet Classics)

She Reads Novels

Good
Reviewed by Helen on Nov 09 2009

It’s worth perservering through all the social commentary, politics and history to get to the actual story itself – and the wonderful, moving, thought-provoking, suspenseful story is why I loved Les Miserables.

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ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Above average
Reviewed by Lisa Hill on May 15 2010

Although some of Hugo’s allusions were over my head his personification of Paris made me think about cities then and now.

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Fiction Book Review

Above average
Reviewed by Citra Florenca on Nov 15 2013

Les Misérables made me laugh and cry at the same time. I cried when I read the story about young Cossette, I smiled a bit when when Valjean became a successful man, but it doesn't end there, mind you. Still, as a person who reads mainly modern books, I did notice weirdness in the writing style and the plot.

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Anastasia Lebedev 13 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 4.5 out of 5

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Anastasia Lebedev 5 Sep 2013

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