Sunday, January 1, 2012

Victor Hugo's Les Misérables published 150 years ago

First posted 7/5/2020.

Les Misérables

Victor Hugo

First Publication: 1862

Category: fiction

Sales: 1 million

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

Les Misérables “ranks among the greatest novels of all time.” AZ It “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.” AZ In 1980, it premiered as a musical which has run in London since 1985, making it the longest-running musical in the West End. WK

The story takes place in the 19th century “during a period of political unrest in Paris.” LT The focus is on Jean Valjean, “a French peasant, and his desire for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a bishop inspires him by a tremendous act of mercy.” WK

“Trying to forget his past and live an honest life, …Valjean risks his freedom to take care of a motherless young girl.” LT As a result, “he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert.” WK

“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.” AZ

“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 Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds.” AZ

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