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Les Miserables (Vintage Classics) [Hardcover]

Victor Hugo , Adam Thirlwell , Julie Rose
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, 3 July 2008 --  
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Book Description

3 July 2008 Vintage Classics


Sensational, dramatic, packed with rich excitement and filled with the sweep and violence of human passions, Les Misérables is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told. It is a novel peopled by colourful characters from the nineteenth-century Parisian underworld; the street children, the prostitutes and the criminals. In telling the story of escaped convict Jean Valjean, and his efforts to reform his ways and care for the little orphan girl he rescues from a life of cruelty, Victor Hugo drew attention to the plight of the poor and oppressed. Les Miserables is a masterful detective story, a comic and tragic story of romance and revolution and, ultimately, a tale of redemption and hope.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 1372 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; Gift ed edition (3 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099511134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099511137
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 456,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


There are plenty of translations of this extensive, exuberant novel that cut out anything superfluous. But God is in the detail, and Julie Rose has returned all the detail, making a language that is rich and gorgeous. This is the one to read... and if you are flying, just carry it under your arm as you board, or better still, rebook your holiday and go by train, slowly, page by page... (Jeanette Winterson The Times)

This new translation...marvelously removes the yellowed varnish from Hugo's prose and gives us the racy, breathless, and passionate intelligence of the original (Adam Gopnik)

This a lively, dramatic, and wonderfully readable translation of one of the greatest 19th-century novels (Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Of Foreign Affairs)

One of the finest French Romantic writers (Guardian)

I sobbed and wailed and thought (books) were the greatest things (Susan Sontag)

Book Description

'Still grips the reader with its epic-narrative sweep and all-embracing humanitarianism' Douglas Kennedy, Sunday Times

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
104 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Miserable, Just Great Storytelling 29 May 2009
Having seen several film versions, and the stage show, you could say I was already a fan of this story. However, I was always puzzled by the unexplained bits - how did Jean Valjean enter Paris over the city walls ? What exactly was the circumstance surrounding his initial arrest ? 19 Years for stealing a loaf was excessive even for pre-revolution France, and lots, lots more.
All of the detail and explanations are here.
The book is fascinating as it is a marvellous social history of France, but the author/translator has also provided references for each chapter which very helpfully inform the reader. You can read and enjoy the book without referring to these, but I found they enhanced the story.
As for Victor Hugo's tale itself, it is a masterpiece. The storytelling is exquisite, and it certainly reads as a modern tale, but the language is rich and well put together.
At over a 1,000 pages, this is no beachside escapist book - what it is, is a return to fantastic, richly woven storytelling, with a message about life, that hits you hard in the guts, and makes you sit up and want more.
It is compelling, wretched, miserable, heartening and uplifting by turns.
I defy any reader who is tired of the pap that often passes as literature today, not to be excited by this magnificent book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars at the pinnacle of literary fiction 13 Jan 2010
This is one of the world's great books. The story of convict Jean Valjean and his pursuit by the morally obsessive and iron-willed detective Javert is so compelling that it remains burned into the reader's mind long after the book is finished. Valjean undergoes so many trials of fate and endurance that he emerges as almost superhuman, though always sympathetic. The evil Thenardiers are also fascinating in a macabre way. There are weaknesses: the characters of Cosette and Marius are less vivid and the latter comes across as overly self-centred and immature.

And then there are the famous digressions. Often these break up the story and, with the best will in the world, I found I had to skip them or totally lose interest in the story. But some, such as the Battle of Waterloo, are worth reading in themselves - especially if you have time. Also, there are coincidences that seem so absurd - how is Javert so often in the area when Valjean reappears - as to be off-putting, but they are so skilfully contrived that they merge into the overall picture.

I first read the book when I was much younger and found then that it made a great impression. It made an equal impression this time, especially in the excellent new translation by Australian-based Julie Rose, who also contributes a delightful preface. The language is crystal clear, though some of the slang and colloquialisms are jarring and do not really fit the atmosphere of 19th century France. But this is a small point - such a monumental work has to include everything, as Hugo intended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breathtaking Epic 18 July 2009
Simply one of the finest stories ever written. It is an epic book and an epic read, but ultimately hugely rewarding. You are taken on a breathtaking rollercoaster journey of fluctuating emotions. Most people will be familiar with the story from the various films, TV adaptions and and stage productions, but nothing prepares you for the magisterial sweep of the book itself. It is awe inspiring stuff. The book is worth buying alone simply for Hugo's magnificent description of the Paris sewers. Read it and you will see what I mean. Jean Valjean strides the book like a literary colossus. His self sacrifice and inherent goodness make him a man worth knowing. Who can fail to be moved by his Damascus road experience with the candlesticks. He strides into literary immortality together with that other great hearted literary creation Don Quixote.

What is there that can be said that has not already been said. Hugo was a genius, of that there is no doubt. This is his masterpiece left for the world. It is a book that must be read during our all to brief life on this beautiful blue planet. It transcends its own genre and achieves a rare form of greatness. It is not the abode of mere mortals, but some Elysium where the Gods of literature sit. Should be compulsory reading for everyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book - good for kindle 23 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wanted to read this book on the kindle as it is quite long and so quite a heavy book! Chose the Julia Rose translation as it seemed more up-to-date. I enjoyed the book immensely, the main storyline has so many twists and turns, Hugo does however sometimes go off on a tangent - i.e. the history of the Paris sewers. I didn't feel this modern version was in any way dumbed down, it suited me very well and the footnotes were very helpful. Would definately recommend this kindle version!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No better version... 12 Feb 2013
I spotted this in a Kinokuniya in Bangkok and it has made me put my entire reading life on hold whilst I savoured it.
Julie Rose's translation is rich, Adam Gopnik's introduction brief and accurate. The latter claims that Hugo is "the conscience of a nation"; the former proves it with a mellifluous style that will profoundly impact any reader.
This is a book everyone should read. Those who have only seen the musical or the film cannot truly hope to understand the depth of literary skill of Hugo, to comprehend that "Les Miserables" is not just the story of Jean Valjean, Fantine and Cosette but encompasses every village, every town, every city, indeed is a sobriquet for the whole moral compass of an entire nation.
I cannot speak highly enough of this novel. It is a top ten entry on "50 books you should read before you die" because it will influence your perspective on many things.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars superb translation
this book is superb. Buy it for your holiday and immerse yourself. Major sense of achievement in getting to the end. Read more
Published 1 month ago by PaulH
5.0 out of 5 stars very long book very detailed picture of France/ Paris at that time
Excellent story as told by Hugo but be prepared for the long haul as this is several books in one cover.
Published 10 months ago by handyman
5.0 out of 5 stars You saw the film... you should have read the book instead
I went to see the film not knowing it was a musical (er, yes) and when R. Crowe opened his mouth and out came a computer assisted voice my heart sank, but I endured the following... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Prof. Alan Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly epic story
A wonderful story that kept me up late at nights wanting more. I have to say though that if one stands back and wants to be slightly critical there are some slightly unbelievable... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Michael L
3.0 out of 5 stars Too thick to hold comfortably
Sorry I bought this in one volume. Had option to buy it in 3 parts. Too thick to hold comfortably.
Published 16 months ago by davydavi
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you hear the people sing...?
As a huge fan of the show and now the film, I had to succumb to the book and so ordered myself this version. A beautifully edited book
Published 17 months ago by Deb Ball
4.0 out of 5 stars Special story
Very in depth version. Lots of extra information suitable for students studying the classic story. Not the easy read version but very enjoyable all the same
Published 17 months ago by DevonIrish
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic which must be read!
Stunningly written, it easy to see why this spawned such a successful musical and film. I dare you not to like it.
Published 17 months ago by Ms. I. Ince
5.0 out of 5 stars Les Mis is not miserable
This book is a really good translation of the origional (not that I have ever read the original french version). Read more
Published 19 months ago by Chuck
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless piece of art
Beautiful story, beautifully written. Semi historical novel, very romantic - especially suitable for daydreaming teenage girls :) It is a timeless piece of literature.
Published 23 months ago by Alena2911
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