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Les Miserables (Penguin Classics) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 1232 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (April 29, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444308
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (390 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

About the Author

Born in 1802, the son of a high officer in Napoleon’s army, Victor Hugo spent his childhood against a background of military life in Elba, Corsica, Naples, and Madrid. After the Napoleonic defeat, the Hugo family settled in straitened circumstances in Paris, where, at the age of fifteen, Victor Hugo commenced his literary career with a poem submitted to a contest sponsored by the Académie Française. Twenty-four years later, Hugo was elected to the Académie, having helped revolutionize French literature with his poems, plays, and novels. Entering politics, he won a seat in the National Assembly in 1848; but in 1851, he was forced to flee the country because of his opposition to Louis Napoleon. In exile on the Isle of Guernsey, he became a symbol of French resistance to tyranny; upon his return to Paris after the Revolution of 1870, he was greeted as a national hero. He continued to serve in public life and to write with unabated vigor until his death in 1885. He was buried in the Pantheon with every honor the French nation could bestow.

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Customer Reviews

I love them all, and longed to have the time to read the book.
Pablo R. Defendini
Hugo perfectly orchestrated the plot as to heighten the message to his readers and give each character more of a voice and story.
Charlotte H. Guest
Les Miserables is probably one the greatest books ever written.
Nora

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

209 of 214 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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145 of 151 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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85 of 89 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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50 of 51 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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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By faience on October 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I won't attempt to extensively review this classic, except to say that it's one of the most readable, involving, uplifting books you'll ever read, *if* you enjoy the kind of long, detailled 19th century novel that you really can immerse yourself in.
I'd like to point out some positives of the Penguin edition, since editions can differ greatly in attributes. The Penguin is almost unabridged, but not quite (in case the low price had you wondering). It still checks in at a hefty 1232 pages, and has been trimmed by the translator only of some [here are his words]: "passages of mediocrity and banality....which may cause the reader to lose all patience.... The translator can, I maintain, do something to remedy these defects without falsifying the book." So it won't please absolute purists, but it is very much more complete than are some of the smaller mass market editions.
It's a larger format ("trade") paperback. This 1976 translation is by Norman Denny, and I love it. It's warm and readable, and he spells out place names instead of keeping to the old convention of calling Myriel the "Bishop of D----." I highly recommend this edition.
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