I agree with several of the posts below -- this was beyond all doubt THE most boring book that I have ever read (and I've read quite a few).<br><br>The book opens with an allegedly scene-setting description of a festival, wherein most of the main characters (and many minor and never-to-be-seen-again characters) are introduced. This would be fine and dandy if Hugo simply introduced them, but he feels compelled to spend an entire chapter (thankfully they are brief chapters) on each character -- even the walk-ons!<br><br>The story picks up a bit after the festival (centered around an aborted play), although the plot is already stretching one's tolerance for corn: a dejected, penniless philosopher-poet follows a muse-figure through the Paris streets, fights with a one-eyed, hunchbacked dwarf, is kidnapped by an army of beggars (straight out of Brecht's Threepenny Opera), and is saved from hanging when the muse figure (a gypsy dancer with a 200 IQ'd goat) offers to "marry" him. Huge groan.<br><br>Still this section is enjoyable corn.<br><br>But....<br><br>Hugo then stops the action dead for 25 pages while he describes the architecture of Notre dame (5 pages) and that of the entire city of Paris (as seen from the roof of Notre Dame - 20 pages). I can imagine nothing more boring than a 19th century author's interminable description of the various buildings and streets of a 16th century city. This segment stands out as a textbook example of how NOT to write a story, and should be required reading for any wannabe author (or any lousy author needing a mild ego boost). <br><br>When the story picks up again -- little by little, and inclusive of more life-stories on every 2-bit character who comes within 20 yards of the plot (I'm guessing Hugo was getting paid by the word-count), the hackneyed plot cliches start piling up thick and fast. (Does anyone NOT know from the get-go that the crazy old hermit-lady who screams curses at the gypsy is really her long-lost mother?)<br><br>Stylistically, the book seems torn between being a satire and a tragedy -- with the end result that it is neither. Why Hugo feels a need to Satirize the Paris of 300 years before his day is beyond me (I mean, they did have a Revolution or two in the interim). Certainly the problems with a 16th century Parisian legal system have little bearing on the reader of today (the farcical interlude wherein a deaf judge gets angered by a deaf dwarf's inability to properly answer his questions would be bitingly satirical had it applied to Hugo's day (and not his great-great-great-great-great grandfather's).<br><br>But the real trouble with the satire is that Hugo often (indeed 90+ percent of the time) seems to be sneering at his characters and their foibles. It is hard to feel much empathy for them when they serve merely as objects for their creator's scorn. Yet Hugo pulls out all stops (during several crucial moments) in an attempt to grab the reader by his heartstrings: characters cry and tear out their hair, rip their clothes, lavish tearful kisses on baby shoes ....<br><br>The end result was that it took me nearly half a year to read this 225 page book. I put it aside several times (reading 2 Poe biographies, Wuthering Heights, Mark Twain's Autobio, and the complete works of Tennyson whenever the Hunchback became too boring to take).<br><br>As to Hugo's supposed greatness -- well, I suppose the French had to nominate somebody and were, understandably, hard-up for candidates. Suffice to say, I shan't be reading Les Misb.<br><br>