- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New edition edition (5 Jan. 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781853260858
- ISBN-13: 978-1853260858
- ASIN: 1853260851
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Les Misérables Volume One: 1 (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Jan 1994
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About the Author
Novelist, poet and dramatist, Victor Hugo was born in Besancon in 1802, the son of a general in Napoleon's army. After the marriage of his parents collapsed, he was raised by his mother, Sophie. From 1815 to 1818 Hugo attended the Lycee Louis-le Grand in Paris. In early adolescence he began to write verse tragedies and poetry, and also translated Virgil.
His first published collection, Odes et Poesies Diverses (1822), gained him a royal pension from Louis XVIII. His first novel, Han D'Islande (1823), was published anonymously. In 1822, he married Adele Foucher, with whom his brother, Eugene, was in love. Eugene suffered from mental problems and lost his mind on their wedding day, after which he spent the rest of his life in an institution. Hugo's fame increased in the 1830s with the publication of his famous historical work Notre Dame de Paris (now known as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) (1831). In his later life Hugo became involved in politics as a supporter of the Republican movement. His daughter was tragically killed in 1843, and Hugo did not publish another book for ten years. In 1851, believing his life to be in danger, he fled to Brussels and then to Jersey. He was expelled from the island, and moved, with his family to neighbouring Guernsey in the English Channel.
During this period he wrote some of his best works, including Les Chatiments (1853) and the epic Les Miserables (1862). Hugo witnessed the Siege of Paris in 1870, when the unpopular Napoleon III finally fell from power at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. After these political upheavals and the proclamation of the Third Republic, Hugo finally returned to France. In 1871, during the period of the Paris Commune, Hugo lived in Brussels, but was expelled for sheltering revolutionaries. After a short time in Luxembourg, he returned to Paris and was elected as a senator in 1876. He suffered a mild stroke in June 1878. Hugo died in Paris on 22 May, 1885, and was given a national funeral, attended by two million people.
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Top Customer Reviews
I now have no doubts.
Some may find the style old fashioned, some of the descriptive passages too long etc. Don't let that put you off.
If you decide to take this book on (both unabridged volumes - no less) then I am sure that by the end of it you will come to the same conclusion as I.
That this is possibly the best piece of work you will have ever read.
It would be enlightening to say that a modern reader drawn here on the back of the musical, and looking for the story, might well not even finish the novel, being fed up with its frequent digressions. Certainly, there are vast tracts of impossibly detailed historical commentary that interrupt the narrative flow with scant regard for the 21st century's time-pressed reader. Jean Valjean's flight through the sewers is a timely place for Hugo to explain the history of Paris' underground system; the time spent in the convent is preceded by a 10 page meditation on convents; the battle of Waterloo takes 30 pages of our time, albeit one of the more readable asides.
Roger Clark's useful introduction suggests that Hugo felt it was necessary to expound (albeit with his great skill and erudition) on the historical context of his characters' world; it is a story that was for him inseparable from the times that made it: Les Miserables is a critique of a city and a nation embodied in text. Still, this will be of little consolation to readers looking for the adventures of Jean Valjean, and Inspector Javert.
Yet, Hugo's storytelling skill is considerable. The opening of the novel is one I will always remember, the creation and story of the figure of Monseigneur Bienvenue is brilliantly realised. The novel's fictional characters, and the story itself, are compelling; thrilling at times, and definitely melodramatic; there's a sense of the theatrical about it all.Read more ›
This Wordsworth edition is the 1862 translation and the novel is presented in it's complete form across the two volumes. There are four major digressions Hugo makes in his text which pretty much amount to essays; their subjects are, respectively, the battle of Waterloo (told from the French point of view, of course) a history of cloistered religious orders in France, the building of the sewer system of Paris and the “argot” or slang of the Parisian streets.
These can be skipped without any serious loss to the main narrative and some of the more modern editions/translations publish them as appendices at the back; I skipped a couple – but you may be made of sterner stuff than I.
It isn't a difficult read, especially if you are used to reading classic literature – but it is very long; the chapters though, are short - well-suited to tackling the marathon you'd expect and it is quite engrossing.
A more modern translation might be of benefit regarding the “argot” section as the exposition is quite complicated; there are also quite a few instances where the modern reader may miss or misconstrue some of the details in the narrative simply due to unfamiliarity with the period (it was already dated for contemporary readers at the time of publication), so an annotated edition may be worth considering.
Nevertheless, this was the edition I read and thoroughly enjoyed; the language isn`t really challenging, it is merely the standard, good prose of its period. The novel is a richer, more detailed experience than the films or the musical – fine efforts of adaptation though some of them are - it is, after all one of THE great works of the 19th century.
The only other point I would add is that the print in this edition is quite small. The novel, though, is vast.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The font is small, not so good if you struggle with sight. But excellent product for the money.Published 2 months ago by Nadia
Unbeliveable mix of fiction and history. The only complaint is too many long pointless sections. As fascinating as the Paris sewer system is, I don’t need that much detail nor 45... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Cara Bennett
A book of its time, about its time, namely the French Revolutionary period. As with Dickens, the characterization is superb, but the plots and events are very uninspiring in... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Sam
All hail Jean Valjean. All hail Victor Hugo. Still stands taller than most today (though Hugo is rather fond of using ten words to say something when one would have done), as an... Read morePublished 16 months ago by C. S. Barlow