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Les Miserables Paperback – September 19, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Paperback, September 19, 2001
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Editorial Reviews


If you are like me and have wanted to read this Very Important Book but have been scared off by its behemoth size then you are in luck. This version, offered by Barbour Publishing s Shiloh Run Press, is not only condensed but translated especially for today's American reader. However, that does not mean that the book will be an easy read, just easier than previous editions.

Skip the movie and read the book. Its not necessarily an easy read but how many truly wonderful and exceptional things in life are easy? You get what you put into things and Les Miserables pays you back in spades. --Darian Burns Darian Burns Blog 2014-01-10

Do you ever come across a book that seems like everyone but you has read? It's received rave reviews and you half-heartedly add it to the to-read list but you don't consider it high priority. You'll get around to it...eventually. Well that's the way I have felt about Les Miserables. And to be honest, when I see the majority going googly-eyed over a book I tend to avoid it as it usually isn't my cup of tea. However when the opportunity presented itself to read this French classic in the form of an abridged edition I jumped at the chance. And I have no regrets. While there was no doubt a good deal that I missed out on I found this modern edition of a timeless story very well done. Very few classics I come across fall under the "page-turner" category but in my own humble opinion Les Misérables was excellent. It reveals the triumphs and fall of mankind and how one decision can set into motion a whole series of incidents that have both positive and negative effects. --J. Burdette Reet Champion Book Reviews 2014-03-13 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Product Details

  • Series: Reimann Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849916879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849916878
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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