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Les Miserables (Classics) Paperback – 25 Mar 1982


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Product details

  • Paperback: 1232 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (25 Mar. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444308
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 0.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"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 Washington

About the Author

Victor Hugo was born in 1820. He was one of France's greatest poets, dramatists and novelists. During his lifetime he produced twenty volumes of poetry, nine novels and ten plays. He was deeply concerned with the social and political developments ofhis time and his outspokenness eventually forced him to leave France until 1870 when he was elected to the national assembly.

Norman Denny was educated at Radley College.


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IN THE year 1815 Monseigneur Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of Digne. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Paola Rizzato on 6 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
I decided to read 'Les Miserables' more out of a challenge to myself than anything else. I honestly thought it was going to be one of those 'boiled cabbage' books that taste pretty dull but are very good for you. I could not be more wrong. From the first chapter, I was surprised by Hugo's sense of humour and sharpness. His take on the clergy and their not-so-humble lifestyle set the tone of the book and acted as a promise that it wasn't going to be a 'tour de force' of morals and religion.
And then it just got better, and better, and better. The plot had more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie's novel, the characters far more rounded than the two-dimensional figurines one encounters in Dickens' writing. These characters are memorable. Jean Valejan, Cosette, Marius, the evil Javert: I dare you readers to find a book in which the characters become so alive, so vivid, so intense and so human. By the end of the book (almost 1000 pages of!)you just don't want to let them go. I frantically read and read for days until, almost at the end, I slowed down and tried to make it last a little bit longer, and yes, when the last page was turned, I felt totally and utterly BEREFT. Les Miserables is a story that will stay with me forever. If classics ever put you off, do yourself a favour, and read this wonderful novel.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Coote on 19 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
Not the greatest prediction in history perhaps, but Victor Hugo's monumental Romantic epic still remains one of the best known and most popular works of the nineteenth century. A vast panorama of Parisian life during the first half of that century, Les Miserables seems to contain the author's entire world view and knowledge base, everything but the kitchen sink. Yes, when viewed through twenty-first century eyes it suffers from all the peculiarities associated with novels of that era: twists and turns born out of wildly improbable coincidences, a tendency to sentimentality and melodrama, familiar caricatures (misers, prostitutes, street urchins), odd attachments to unrelated children, and loose ends neatly tied up. But, like War and Peace it is a great sweep of life, like Moby Dick it is juxtaposed with digressions and immensely detailed descriptions (Waterloo, the Paris sewers), like Dickens's works the characters live and breathe even though they are flat and behave stereotypically. In sum, it is a magnificent slice of social history, teeming with life and detail, sometimes funny, often moving, always compassionate.
The story is basically simple. It revolves around peasant Jean Valjean who is sentenced to five years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family and then to 19 years in the galleys for an escape attempt. He becomes a recidivist criminal on release until he sees the error of his ways after being befriended by a saintly priest. Then, making a stupid mistake on the spur of the moment, he is discovered and compelled to return to prison. However, escaping again, he spends the rest of his life seeking redemption, firstly by becoming a wealthy and respectable citizen and then by rescuing a young girl from abuse.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Plunkett on 9 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am sure that most people reading this review will already be familiar with the story of Les Misérables. You may have seen the hit musical, the movie based on that musical, a television adaptation or one of the many non musical movie adaptations. Needless to say Les Misérables is a story that has proved to be timeless and the social issues it examines are just as relevant today as in 1862 when the novel was first published. Part of the appeal of Les Misérables is that it has many themes and contains elements of many genres. Generally the novel is classified as a romance (in the style of say Walter Scott) but it is also a social commentary, a historical study of Nineteenth Century France, an examination of the human condition (the discussion of the moral dilemma faced by Jean Valjean in the first part of the novel is the most gripping thing I have read in any text), a love story, a detective story and an adventure story. Les Misérables has something for everyone. That is why I think the novel has a universal appeal.

The novel also contains spiritual themes. The novel is popular with many conservative Christians but to be clear Hugo never mentions any particular religion. There are biblical allegories for sure in some parts of the novel but Hugo is more concerned with the spiritual side of man than organised religion. The introduction mentions Hugo started his own religion that is still practiced in Vietnam.

The novel has a reputation for having long digressions. This is true but I also think it is part of the charm of the novel.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By L. Freeman on 23 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
Phew! Well, that is a book that you feel proud of for having completed. It is the size of a breeze block and it's printed on tissue paper in size 4 font- very daunting to approach!

The story is very intricate and has many small `insignificant' details which, you realise when trying to write a synopsis, all have great impact upon it. It is set in 19th Century France, and follows ex-convict Jean Valjean and his struggle through life, being constantly pursued. He raises a `daughter' and we also follow her story, of young love. If you have seen the musical, you will recognize the story from the adaptation easily, but be amazed at the extra intricacies!

Although this is, as I have said, a very daunting book to approach, there is actually nothing difficult about it. It is written plainly, and easy enough to understand. But there is no doubt it takes concentration. It's a book you have to really READ, if you understand my meaning. There are pages and pages of back history to every character, no matter how small. Even alot of the buildings mentioned have pages, sometimes chapters of back history!

This really is an excellent book with an excellent story. I would recommend it most highly, but with the advice that you would probably have to see it as a long term project! There is a bit of everything, action, adventure, love, suspense, war, sadness, happiness, and hope. Suitable for all, with a little perseverance!
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