Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Charles E. Wilbour & James K. Robinson

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Hugo paces the novel masterfully, and the characters’ anti-ambiguity intensifies the force of the action and the feeling of suspense. 


A brilliant new translation by Christine Donougher of Victor Hugo's thrilling masterpiece, with an introduction by Robert Tombs. The Wretched (Les Misérables) is the basis for both the longest running musical on the West End and the highly-acclaimed recent film starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.

Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty.

Victor Hugo was born in Besançon, France in 1802. In 1822 he published his first collection of poetry and in the same year, he married his childhood friend, Adèle Foucher. In 1831 he published his most famous youthful novel, Notre-Dame de Paris. A royalist and conservative as a young man, Hugo later became a committed social democrat and was exiled from France as a result of his political activities. In 1862, he wrote his longest and greatest novel, The Wretched (Les Misérables). After his death in 1885, his body lay in state under the Arc de Triomphe before being buried in the Panthéon.

Christine Donougher is a freelance translator and editor. She has translated numerous books from French and Italian, and won the 1992 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for her translation of Sylvie Germain's The Book of Nights.

Robert Tombs is Professor of History at St John's College, Cambridge. His most recent book is That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, co-written with Isabelle Tombs.


About Victor Hugo, Charles E. Wilbour & James K. Robinson

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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.From the Hardcover edition.
Published April 24, 2003 by Penguin. 1234 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Other, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance, Action & Adventure. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Les Miserables
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Reviewed by Troy Patterson on Dec 18 2012

Hugo paces the novel masterfully, and the characters’ anti-ambiguity intensifies the force of the action and the feeling of suspense. 

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Reviewed by David Langness on Dec 18 2012

Reading his art may remind you who you are and why we humans create.

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The Atlantic

Reviewed by Edwin Percy Whipple on Jul 01 1962

We wish that another quarter of a century had elapsed before it found a bookseller capable of venturing on so reckless a speculation.

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Los Angeles Review of Books

Reviewed by David Ehrenstein on Dec 25 2012

Victor Hugo sings to the soul of the common man in the 21st century every bit as much as he did in the 19th. Take it away, kids!

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