Les Miserables

Les Miserables

4.13 (551,891 ratings by Goodreads)
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Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean--the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread--Les Miserables 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 Thenardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Miserables 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 Afterwordshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 1476 pages
  • 104.14 x 175.26 x 53.34mm | 612.35g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Unabridged
  • 045141943X
  • 9780451419439
  • 22,751

Review quote

"Hugo's genius was for the creation of simple and recognizable myth. The huge success of Les Miserables as a didactic work on behalf of the poor and oppressed is due to his poetic and myth-enlarged view of human nature." --V. S. Pritchett "It was Tolstoy who vindicated [Hugo's] early ambition by judging Les Miserables one of the world's great novels, if not the greatest... [His] ability to present the extremes of experience 'as they are' is, in the end, Hugo's great gift." --From the Introduction by Peter Washingtonshow more

About Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was the son of a high-ranking officer in Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Army. A man of literature and politics, he participated in vast changes as France careened back and forth between empire and more democratic forms of government. As a young man in Paris, he became well-known and sometimes notorious for his poetry, fiction, and plays. In 1845, the year that he began writing his masterwork, Les Miserables, the king made him a peer of France, with a seat in the upper legislative body. There he advocated universal free education, general suffrage, and the abolition of capital punishment. When an uprising in 1848 ushered in a republic, he stopped writing Les Miserables and concentrated on politics. But in 1851, when the president proclaimed himself emperor, Hugo's opposition forced him into a long exile on the British Channel Islands. There, in 1860, he resumed work on Les Miserables, finishing it the next year. With the downfall of the emperor in 1870, Hugo returned to France, where he received a hero's welcome as a champion of democracy. At his death in 1885, two million people lined the streets of Paris as his coffin was borne to the Pantheon. There he was laid to rest with every honor the French nation could bestow. Lee Fahnestock is a translator and writer who lives in New York and Massachusetts. In 2000, the French government made her a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her services to French culture. She has translated four volumes of the poetry of Francis Ponge, including The Making of the Pre, The Nature of Things and Vegetation, and Paul Fournel's novel Little Girls Breathe the Same Air As We Do. With Norman MacAfee, she translated two volumes of the letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beavoir, Witness to My Life and Quiet Moments in a War, as well as Les Miserables. She is writing an extended study of Victor Hugo's Paris. She is active with organizations promoting literary translation and served as president of the American Literary Translators Association. Norman MacAfee is a writer of poetry, prose, and performance works, a translator, editor, and visual artist. Some of his most recent books are The Gospel According to RFK: Why It Matters Now; The Death of the Forest, an opera by Norman MacAfee to music of Charles Ives; and his selected poems, One Class. In addition to Les Miserables, he and Lee Fahnestock translated two volumes of the letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir (Witness to My Life and Quiet Moments in a War). He translated (with Luciano Martinengo) Poems: Pier Paolo Pasolini; and (with Luigi Fontanella) Daniele del Giudice's novel Lines of Light. He also translated from the French the legendary long-lost manuscript Heroines, by the lesbian surrealist photographer Claude Cahun, in Inverted Odysseys by Shelley Rice. He writes for The Huffington Post. He lives in Greenwich Village.show more

Review Text

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean--the noble peasant...show more

Rating details

551,891 ratings
4.13 out of 5 stars
5 47% (259,316)
4 30% (165,117)
3 16% (86,619)
2 5% (25,735)
1 3% (15,104)
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