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Customer Review

on August 11, 1999
There is absolutely no question, I agree with everyone else before me, that Les Miserables is one of the best novels ever written, and you need to read an unabridged translation to completely enjoy it.If you read an abridged edition, you may end up wondering, "What's the point?" The abridgers usually take out all the meat, anything that might appeal. The bare-bones plot is 19th Century melodrama at its best---and to 20th century sensibilities... But I don't recommend reading Les Miserables for the plot. If it's the plot you want, go see the musical, or buy the Complete Symphonic Recording of the musical, and you can get the plot in under three hours, plus the musical has some of the meat.Most people consider Norman Denny's translation (Penguin Classics) to be unabridged. This is NOT THE CASE. Read the introduction and you will see that Denny admits to editing content for length. This is the definition of abridging. I compared Denny's translation to the translation I read first, the Lee Fahnestock (Signet Classics) translation, and some of my favorite parts are missing. MISSING! And Denny also moves a couple chapters to the back of the book as appendixes. Sorry, but I want to read the novel in the order the author intended. Denny's is better than most abridged versions, but it is still an abridged version.When you are done reading either the original CE Wilbour (Modern Library) translation, or the Fahnestock translation, also check out the Smithsonian's Orson Welles radio production. Extremely worthwhile.
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