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on November 27, 2015
I advise those perusing these reviews to take with a measure of salt the dogmatic pronunciations on the quality of Rose's translation. Provenance is important, and one should always "consider the source." (Yes, even with me.)

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.
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on April 23, 2017
I wish I could remember who convinced me to read this, as I would fall on my knees and thank them. It is long, but that only prolongs the joy of the novel, of the history, the arcane argot, and the love between the father and his adopted daughter.
I always liked the musical, but had never thought that I would like the book just as much. Two months later I can go back to riding the subway without having a les mis song stuck in my head from reading this book.
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on October 20, 2016
les miserables by victor hugo - wow - long book, great moive with huge jackman is wonderful - its a book on the boy who stole a loaf of bread to save his sister and her family from death and how he was a convicted criminal and did a 360 degree turn around and became a mayor of a big town and fought in a power battle for the poor people and there rights etc and changed the way the country sees the the poor and helpless - its rich vs poor issues its great - so like today in many ways the poor have it toady
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on December 20, 2016
One of the great classic stories of all time. Themes of justice and forgiveness are embodied in the most believeable charactewrs, and cover individual as well as civic actions.Consideration of different kinds of love - parental, romantic, and the general love of mankind - are interwovwn with the primary themes to give them a human dimension. I try and read it at least once every 5 years and am always surprised by new insights |I get.
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on July 10, 2016
Hugo's masterpiece, Les Miserables, achieves singular greatness. Robust characters, towering themes, prodigious action and penetrating thought--the book offers everything we seek in rewarding reading experience. Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, Marius and Cosette are characters for the ages. This is an historical novel that needs to be read again and again; it is that good and that definitive--a classic among classics. It belongs on the shelf beside War and Peace, Don Quixote, and The Brothers Karamazov.
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on August 31, 2010
This is a great classic novel that have got what it takes to becomes a great piece of universal literature

In Les Miserables it is possible to find merged various aspects related to France at the turn of the 19th century, on one hand the political events related to the internal strife between Napoleonic and forces loyal to the Monarchy and on the other the social economic situation of the French society at that time.

The story was divided into 5 great sections, that can be read together in one unabridged book or separated, as all of them are linked by the main character, Jean Valjean, the former starving poor convict, turned into an affluent righteous man, who happens to adopt and raise a ravenous little girl, Cosette (the destitute), who had been given up for adoption by her dirt-poor mother to a ruthless, devious couple

Even though very long, almost 1500 pages (I am referring to the unabriged version), the story runs smoothly, without bumps, and puts its focus in two historical events, one, the battle of Waterloo and the other the barricades, erected in Paris during the uprising generated in the French revolution, in these two events too many unnecessary details are uncovered, and I just have found this a little boring. Fortunately this is less than 10 % percent of the unabridged version.

To make up for that, the author, has deftly developed an array of very colorful characters of different social classes who represent the society of France of that time.

The end does not disappoint, however, the novel was not planned to makee the reader craving for the resolution of the ending but for making him delve on the events, and situations, in order to find the scattered rich gems of wisdom, the author, dropped in most of the chapters and to learn a bit about the French History

Victor Hugo, showed that he despised the explotaition of the destitute and the poor masses by the rich and also that exercised a powerful ethical thinking coupled with a deep religious conviction.
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on January 13, 2013
(( NOTE: This is the daughter of the man whose account this is ))

I will open this review by saying that there are few books (and movies) that impact me greatly, elicit an emotional response from me, and that I get wholly involved with. In fact, there are few movies and books that I can even bother to finish! Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is a rare exception to this. Hugo's classic novel is fascinating and beautiful, haunting and riveting, and on top of this, the book is filled with powerful characters and a powerful message.

I have watched the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables since I was a kid, because Les Miserables has always been my grandfather's favorite musical. In fact, my grandfather still owns the little tape! So I am not new to the basic story line. Years later, I watched the 1998 movie with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush, which does not do the original story justice in the least. Finally, the newest 2012 movie has been released. Oh my goodness. Let me just say, the newest movie is an instant classic!I am not one to cry in movies at all, and as I mentioned earlier, I seldom even feel anything but "meh" for most movies. However, I absolutely BAWLED on more than one occasion while in the theater, and I was not the only one! Crying and sniffling abounded in the theater. It was very touching and beautiful, and an engaging story line. As soon as I returned home, I knew I had to read the book!

And so I purchased the Les Miserables movie tie-in, translated by Norman Denny. I was crossing my fingers hoping that the translation would be good. It certainly does not disappoint! The words flow smoothly, and the book really flies, it is so good! The descriptions are quite eloquent and unique, and I almost hold my breath while reading the beautiful words. Suffice to say that the book is quite easy to understand, but at the same time this translation does not "dumb down" the content for modern audiences, if you catch my drift.

The book is large and beautifully bound. I positively adore the cover and the tones! The pages are large and bluish-white, and the smell is muted but new. The pages are rather thin because of the abundance of pages (1200, plus some parts that the translator chose to leave out of the main portion of the book and put in the appendix instead in order to make reading the book go more smoothly. Don't worry, the majority of the book is still there, and so is all the important content).

As for what the book is about, I'm sure most people reading this review are already familiar with the story, and if you are not, you can probably find a great summary elsewhere. But the basic gist is that, this is a poignant story about an ex-convict during 19th century France who, after experiencing great kindness for the first time in his life, strives to right his wrongs and live the rest of his life doing good for others. Of course, this isn't without hardships, which is what gives us an intriguing story in the first place, right? And lots of other things happen, and there are plenty of other important characters, which is obvious from the 1000+ page length.

As the title of the book suggests, this is not the happiest of books. You really feel for the hardships of each of the characters. This is a VERY emotional and thought-provoking story! I cannot emphasize that enough! I am certain that everyone who reads it will become attached to at least one character, and pity them and their strife. The characters really are strong individuals though. The character that has always been my favorite is Monsieur L'inspecteur, AKA Javert (Don't listen to the individuals who call him evil, he certainly is not! In fact, there are quite a few other characters that fit THAT profile...). Of course, our protagonist Jean Valjean has always touched my heart as well! My heart goes out to the tough decisions he must make, and all he has gone through.

The historical backdrop and the description of the surroundings gives this story a lovely, ethereal feel. Even if you know nothing about 19th century France, you'll be able to understand the story and events fine. The ending of the story is absolutely phenomenal and heart-wrenching!

Honestly, this has instantly made my (relatively small) list of ultimate favorite books! I only had five books on that list before reading Hugo's Les Miserables, and Les Miserables has trumped all of those books! I'm aghast by that...Never have I read a story that touches me so deeply!

I highly recommend this book! On that note, I also recommend going to see the newest movie with Hugh Jackman, and watching the 10th Anniversary Concert of the musical. You will not regret it!

Best regards!
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on December 19, 2016
This is a true classic. I had put off reading it because of the length (1500+ pages) but was rewarded with insights on a lot of French history. I would recommend this book to nearly all readers. There are several French passages in the book that did not have a translation (I do not know French) with them but lack of a knowledge of French did not distract from the story nor the points of the novel. Hugo interwove the lives of the major characters on several levels.
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on February 3, 2017
It doesn't say it anywhere, but if you'd like to read the entire book like I'd imagine most people would, don't get the paperback version. It only has the beginning of the story. Kinda disappointing though I suppose that's why it's so cheap.
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on April 23, 2017
Beautiful cover and the overall condition is decent. Just to further explain which copy we bought, since all of the Les Mis books available on Amazon seem to share the same page, we bought the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition published in 2015 and the cover has drawings of Fantine and the barricade. My daughter was very excited to have her own copy of the book after reading it in her English class. However, she was very disappointed that the pages were not even and looked like they were cut with poor scissors. Is this just the style of how the pages are supposed to be? Has anyone else gotten this version of the book and had their pages not exactly even either?
Overall, my daughter is happy with having a version of the book, but wishes that the edge of the pages were even.
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