- 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: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,385 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Les Misérables (Modern Library) Hardcover – September 5, 1992
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Geoffrey Rush, this edition offers a quality hardcover at a reasonable price.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the MP3 CD 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.”
“A lively, dramatic, and wonderfully readable translation of one of the greatest 19th-century novels.”
“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)
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Top customer reviews
A number of interviews with Rose are available online, in which she discusses her work, and her work on this novel. The novel has a lengthy and detailed Translator's Preface, in which she discusses the novel, the translation process, and her approach to it. You also can find online some independent articles about this translation.
The great translator of Spanish language literature, Edith Grossman, said:
"I can't say what makes a book translatable, but I do think that all texts can be translated. The question of whether or not a work is "translatable" stems from a mistaken and widely held notion that a translation is really a one-for-one set of equivalences with the original--a straightforward lexical problem--when in fact it is a rewriting of the first text. Some, of course, are immensely difficult (they're usually just as difficult in the original) and challenge the translator's sensitivity to nuance, levels of meaning, and artistic impact in both languages. I see my work as translating meaning, not words."
Rose has spoken similarly about her work.
"I think the essential difference is that...and I'm not saying that translators always have to do this, there are reasons for departing a little bit further from a writer's text where it just won't work in English. I found on the contrary what really worked better in English was to follow Hugo much more closely than anyone else seems to have done. So I've actually followed his syntax as closely as possible, I've followed the rhythm of his sentences and I've actually broken it up the way he has and stuck more closely to what he says." -- Julie Rose, interview, 2009
She's translated more than thirty French works into English -- plays, poetry, novels, genre fiction. She worked on Les Miserables for three years. She has been awarded three international prizes for her translations. I'm willing to take the leap of faith -- she is "fluent in French." I recommend others accept the facts in plain sight, and do likewise.
I stopped reading works in translation in the early 1980s, and didn't start up again until around 2005. The reason I stopped was that I concluded that I could not hear the author's voice in the translated work. The reason I started again was that Rose, Grossman, and some others showed that they understood this challenge, accepted it, and that it is possible to capture the author's voice in a translation, by actually listening to the author's intent.
According to one account, the Rose translation is almost 100,000 words longer than the 1976 Denny "translation" -- that's how much material he excised from the novel to "improve it." Denny, in fact, is on record as saying that Victor Hugo was a terrible writer, and needed some "tidying up." If you're just looking to pad your reading CV with another of the "great books," then it doesn't matter which one you read. Might as well go with a shorter one. If you're looking to read the translation of Les Mis, that will make you feel like you are reading the original, hearing Victor Hugo's voice, then pick up Rose's translation.
I looked at a French history book while reading it, and Victor Hugo is historically accurate. If you saw the play or movie adaptation, you know very little of this book. I recently re-read it for the second time, and I admit I skipped some of Hugo's philosophical musings and also the gruesome war scenes. It helps to have some knowledge of the French language and history before you read it. I read for an hour a day for several weeks, and followed all the characters as if It were a mini-series. This novel is a masterpiece, and you will absorb history and French culture while following an amazing plot that includes memorable characters.
Overall, I enjoyed the story and example the author set throughout the book in doing good deeds to help others. The Bible says, "...all things work together for good to those who love God", and I enjoyed seeing how things ultimately worked out. In some cases, the result may not have been what a person desired in his or her own life, but God can and does work through us to accomplish His will. This is evident in life and in Victor Hugo's story.
Reading this book requires a good amount of patience as Victor Hugo diverges into lengthy examinations of various topics (e.g., the Battle of Waterloo, the history of the Paris sewer system, etc.). He ultimately has a reason for these long discourses, but the pay-off is quite small for your investment of time. These sections do help the reader to understand the times and setting of the story, but I felt they were overly drawn out. I can see how many readers would give up on the book after trudging through pages of seemingly meaningless information.
I chose the Norman Denny translation, which is slightly abridged at 1,232 pages compared to Lee Fahnestock's translation at 1,484 pages. I should note, the missing content is placed into appendices if you really want to get the full experience. Denny opted to abridge several sections where he felt Hugo ran too long and readers would not miss anything by skipping ahead in the story.
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I love the design of the book (I bought soft binding) - it is very pretty.Read more