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Les Misérables (Modern Library) Hardcover – September 5, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Geoffrey Rush, this edition offers a quality hardcover at a reasonable price.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


“Rich and gorgeous. This is the [translation] 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 (London)

“[A] magnificent story… marvelously captured in this new unabridged translation by Julie Rose.”
The Denver Post

“A new translation by Julie Rose of Hugo’s behemoth classic that is as racy and current and utterly arresting as it should be.”
Buffalo News (editor’s choice)

“Vibrant and readable, idiomatic and well suited to a long narrative, [Julie Rose’s new translation of Les Miserables] is closer to the captivating tone Hugo would have struck for his own contemporaries.”
—Diane Johnson

“A lively, dramatic, and wonderfully readable translation of one of the greatest 19th-century novels.”
—Alison Lurie

“Some of us may have read Les Miserables back in the day, but… between Gopnik and Rose, you’ll get two introductions that will offer you all the pleasures of your college instruction with none of the pain.”
The Agony Column (
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 1280 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; 1st edition (September 5, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679600124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679600121
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 2.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (478 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

276 of 283 people found the following review helpful By R. Hill on July 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have both the original Wilbour translation and the Norman Denny translation of this book, and I'd say that the Denny translation is the more readable of the two. Graham Robb, in his award-winning biography of Hugo has called Denny's translation "swiss cheese" and "translation as censorship." However, it's well-written, and the "excised" sections are included as appendices to which any reader can turn. In places where Denny edits the prose, he captures the spirit of the novel.

But the best comparison is made by reading:

here's Wilbour from the beginning of Part Two, Book Four:

"Forty years ago, the solitary pedestrian who ventured into the unknown region of La Salpetriere and went up along the Boulevard as far as the Barrier d'italie, reached certain points where it might be said that Paris had disappeared. It was no longer a solitude, for there were people passing; it was not the country for there were houses and streets. It was not a city, the streets had ruts in them, like highways, and grass grew along their borders; it was not a village, the houses were too lofty. What was it then? It was an inhabited place where there was nobody. It was a desert place where there was somebody. It was a boulevard of the great city, a street of Paris, wilder at night than a forest and gloomier by day than a graveyard. It was the old quarter of the horse-market."

Denny's version of the same passage

" A stroller forty years ago penetrating beyond the Salpetriere by way of the Boulevard de l'Hopital as far as the Barrierr d'italie, would have come to a region where Paris seemed to disappear.
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172 of 178 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on June 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A few words of advice about Les Miserables...
Buy an old copy (am I allowed to say that!). I found mine in an antique bookstore. It's an old beat-up hardcover. It just makes the whole experience more...historic!
Dare to read the unabridged edition. If Hugo could have told this story in fewer words he would have. Don't cheat yourself out of the real thing. Charles Wilbour's translation is an excellent one.
Take your time with it. When you get frustrated by lengthy explanations and background information, put it down and come back to it. But don't give up!
Les Miserables is one of the greatest stories every written. Hugo brings to life such weighty concepts as Grace, Forgiveness, Repentance, and Redemption and Salvation. The spiritual imagery is very rich. The interaction between Jean Valjean and the Bishop is absolutely life changing.
"Jean Valjean my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!"
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99 of 104 people found the following review helpful By L. Givon on January 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although Wilbour's classic translation of Les Miserables is excellent, readers may also wish to consider the newer unabridged translation by Fahnestock and MacAfee; apart from being somewhat more natural to Anglophone ears, the latter also contains translations of some of the French verses that Wilbour did not translate (e.g., see Saint Denis XII:6).
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I love the film adaptions and musical of Les Miserables, but they can't even compare to the greatness of this piece of literature. It's such an epic story, covering such topics as justice vs. the law, and ultimate love and self-sacrifice. Everyone can find something to relate to, something to learn from, and something to enjoy in this novel. The characters truly do come alive in this novel, from the center and hero of the story, Jean Valjean, to the minor characters. I particularly was touched by the story of Fantine, a "minor" character but easily my favourite. This character falls from innocence, and eventually makes an ultimate self-sacrifice for her daughter. I found myself unable to put the book down on many a late night, but especially so on the chapters concerning Fantine. Of course, perhaps my love for "classics" and "epics" and "historical romance" may have helped me enjoy the book so, as I know many people who could barely get through the first 20 pages of the 1400 + page novel. Some people may not have the patience to go through the Waterloo part, etc. It is a quite detailed book, and it does go very much "off-topic" a few times. But I still enjoyed every single word. I hope the size of the book won't make people think twice about reading it, it really is best unabridged. I have read the abridged version and it is quite confusing, and you miss several moving scenes. In my own opinion, everyone should read this book, unabridged...and prepare to be amazed!
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Alain Lescart on January 23, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a university professor -and French by birth and parenthood- and I teach Masterpiece of World Literature. Knowing very well the original text of Victor Hugo and having presented papers on Les Miserables in international academic colloquiums, I decided to put Les Miserables on my program. As the original has quite a voluminous number of pages and I have to cover many pieces, I decided to go for an abridged version of it.

My disappointment is total!!!

1. This is the most ancient translation of Les Miserables made in 1862 (like that the publisher doesn't need to pay any copyright to any translator or author making a full profit) and the English is dated and not always faithful to the original (for instance when Cosette watch herself in the mirror the French original says that she felt like she was ugly [laide] but it is translated homeless (a word my student didn't even understand).

2. In addition, the abridged work made here is one of the worse I have seen. The classic pieces have been removed (like: who was Fantine and how she got Cosette and was abused by a student in Paris and how she was really in love with him - she was a grisette - Fantine selling all she has (hair, teeth ...) to provide for Cosette and becoming a prostitute is removed - the famous episode of Valjean taking Cosette back from the Thenardier is not even there!!!! Valjean giving the factory back to the workers, etc ...). The first part Fantine should be renamed as so much on Fantine has been cut!
The cut is completely arbitrary and there are absolutely no transitions between the cuts! It is a lame work.

I had to make photocopies of the missing text to be able to do my class!

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