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Les Miserables (Classics) Paperback – 25 Mar 1982
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"Hugo's genius was for the creation of simple and recognizable myth. The huge success of Les Misérables 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 Misérables 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
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, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; 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. A compelling and compassionate view of the victims of early nineteenth-century French society, "Les Miserables" is a novel on an epic scale.See all Product description
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I am really glad I stuck with it as it really is a beatiful, timeless story that brings out genuine emotion. Although I can be taken over but characters and feel real emotion, this is (so far) the only book to have made me shed real tears - not from the joy of completing but the conclusion of Jean Valjean's story and the love in this book. I did not even realise I was crying until I was asked if I was ok, that is how engrossed I was with the words.
Dedication and persistance are needed but it is a wonderful journey that I only regret not doing sooner.
I've not read another translation of Les Miserables (or as this version is named 'The Wretched') and frankly I don't think I've got the time as it's such a mammoth length. Therefore, I wanted to make sure as much as I could that the copy I was going to read was going to be the right one for me. I'm glad I chose the Christine Donougher translation as it is simply outstanding.
I can't conceive of the effort that must have been put into this version along with all its explanatory references and notes. Importantly for me, it's easily read on my phone with a Kindle app. I don't want to carry around a book of this size around with me on the bus or have to keep flicking pages around to explore a reference.
As for the story, well I'm sure you know what to expect... As for the version, I highly recommend this translation particularly on an electronic device (although I've now also got a hard copy copy for my mother-in-law which made me realise quite how long this book is...).
Thank you Christine and Penguin for enabling me to read this classic without hassle.
After buying this electronic version, the thing that struck me was the translation. It is nowhere near as "warm" as the Penguin edition. For example, the Bishop at the start of the story comes from D- (that's that annoying thing a lot of translations from French classics do, in concealing details for no apparent reason). I know from the original Penguin version that D- was Digne. Likewise, Jean Valjean becomes the mayor of Montreuil sur Mer (Penguin), which is rendered M sur M in this version. There are various similar differences. Dialogue between characters is less Anglicised than in the Penguin edition, and comes across as more of a literal translation than an interpreted one, thus making grammar and spelling somewhat questionable - indeed some grammar and spelling is completely wrong.
Don't get me wrong - the book is undoubtedly a classic. But this version could potentially put the first time reader off because it is much harder going when you consider that Hugo's narrative away from the main story was fairly heavy to begin with. Penguin tried to make it a fnished work, whereas this version has an unfinished look about it.
Just my opinion of course, but still worth buying.