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Les Misérables (Modern Library) Hardcover – July 8, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0679643333 ISBN-10: 0679643338

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 1376 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (July 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679643338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679643333
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 2.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“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 (trashotron.com)

From the Inside Flap

A THRILLING NEW TRANSLATION BY JULIE ROSE Sensational, dramatic, packed with rich excitement and filled with the sweep and violence of human passions, Les Misérables is one of the greatest adventures 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.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ADAM THIRLWELL --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I read it during High School, loved it, then saw the musical, and loved it even more.
Jennie Johanson
I've read other translator's editions of Hugo and found this to be very readable and well done.
Samuel Kordik
As a consequence, I put the book down several times, and it took me about a year to read.
CJA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

369 of 401 people found the following review helpful By rater25 on July 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When a publisher announces the first unabridged translation of a world classic in over a hundred years, one has to get excited. But then you see it is by the same Julie Rose who recently mangled Dumas' LE CHEVALIER DE MAISON-ROUGE. Ms. Rose makes so many obvious mistakes in LES MISERABLES that one really doubts her fluency in French. But more seriously (!), it is her approach to the craft of translation that is really the problem. Ms. Rose is of the hip and groovy school. Nineteenth century peasants should of course sound like Paris Hilton. This makes the book less "stuffy" and more palatable to the "general reader". For example Hugo's Tholomyès is "un viveur de trente ans, mal conservé"; that is, a bon vivant of thirty, in bad shape. Rose's is "a wasted high roller of thirty". The MTV phrase "wasted" would be bad enough, but then she has to throw in another anachronistic expression "high roller". This means a serious gambler, not the same thing at all.

Graham Robb, the biographer of Hugo, found numerous serious errors in this translation incl. that the Duke of Clarence was drowned in a butt of malmsey ("une tonne de malvoisie"), rather than Rose's ridiculous "a tun of marsala" and that the "sacre" of Charles X was his coronation not his "consecration". Marius was not "fierce" with pretty girls (Rose) but "shy" ("farouche"). And on and on. An amateur but arrogant production all the way, and a real disgrace.

The original Wilbour translation, which was quite respectable, was revised and corrected by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAffe for Signet some years ago. It is still available and is by every standard superior.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By annica on March 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have to say that this is one of the most captivating and masterful books I have ever read. Victor Hugo has a very unique writing style and I feel that this is something that the translator should try to reproduce as closely as possible. While the book is certainly not abridged, it is edited in other ways that don't make sense. The translator adds her own voice to the translation, especially by inserting contractions and modern prose. I understand that one of the purposes for creating a new translation was to make the old-fashioned prose easier to read and understand. There are certainly many horrible editions out there that are both hard and painful to read. However, the book sometimes comes off as casual and out of place, since it is so grounded in historial detail.

The main problem I have with this edition is that it doesn't exactly supply the right emotional depth that was in the original. I first read the Signet Classics edition, which is very literally translated at times during the dialogue, but translates the meaning behind the characters' words very well. In that edition, the dialouge seemed stilted but gave a better tone to every scene. Julie Rose's dialogue is easier to read and sounds right to American readers, but she often makes changes and additions to Hugo's writing that don't feel right. To me, it sometimes fails to convey the emotion behind the scene. Making something easier to read should not be the main goal of the translator. And while she mentions in her introduction that the book was very dear to her and she was careful in rewriting it, there are some moments in the book when the writing seems awkward even if you're reading it for the first time. Compare referring to someone as 'a beautiful slab of marble' to 'a beautiful statue.
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98 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Birdman on August 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Many years ago, while commuting from Scotch Plains to Manhattan and back, I made use of my commute time to read some very big books. Some, like Larry McMurty's LONESOME DOVE, were magisterial in story, setting and character. Some were Dumas' THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (a killer of a tale). And then there was LES MISERABLES.

I was 26 years old and had never read such a sprawling narrative that commanded my attention like a murder mystery. Jean Valjean was Everyman, and so Hugo's heart touched mine. I read his prose like someone starving for inspiration and story, and read both. As I recall, I read the Penguin edition, circa 1984. It was stirring, clear, compelling.The dialogue doetailed beautifully between the French idiom and American English.

I never saw the musical of the same name, but respect those who did.

Then Julie Rose's version was published, and after reading snippets of some pivotal chapters, I had to purchase a copy, and I'm thrilled I did. Rose's translation is more arresting than the version I read so many years ago, than those I've examined since. Some translators don't "get" idiomatic phrases in a source language, and so much of what we say to one another is idiomatic, and cannot be translated literally.

Rose understands both the idiom and the importance of immediacy in THE Romantic novel of the modern Western canon. Jean Valjean's story is one of fateful coincidence, loss, fear, grief and redemption. Hugo's sub-plots are extensive and yet, unlike the Russian masters, he weaves these into the central narrative seamlessly.

If you love political suspense, mystery, romance, and an author's sheer ability to tell a very long story and give it wings, please purchase this version.
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