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Thread: Les Miserables - Abridged or Unabridged?

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    Les Miserables - Abridged or Unabridged?

    I know the unabridged version of the book starts out very slow, but I heard after that part the story starts to pick up and get very interesting. Anyhow, I am stuck on this one and need your opinions on this one.

    Has anyone read both versions? Thoughts on what I should go for?

    Thanks,

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    I've only read the unabridged version. I really enjoyed it. At the same time, though, you do have to have some patience, because there are huge portions that seem to have nothing to do with the main characters--they're just about the time period, the politics, etc. I haven't read an abridged version of it, so I don't know how much they take out. I'm sure you could get the gist of the book pretty well with the abridged, but I did like the unabridged.

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    Multifaceted Obsessionist Bramblefox's Avatar
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    I read three different abridged versions before I read the unabridged. I suppose if you've never read it before and are just trying to get a feel for the story the unabridged is better to start with. After you read it and learn the basic plot and get a good idea of what's going on then the unabridged works because you know how things go and don't mind the lengthy digressions.
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    Jealous Optimist Dori's Avatar
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    My edition of Les Miserables was abridged by Lawrence M. Porter. It omits "the history of the religious order (Part II, Books 6 and 7); a linguistic examination of the secret languages of thieves (Part IV, Book 7); and the historical background of the 1832 insurrection of Paris (Part IV, Book 10)."

    Within the text, there are also "prose summaries in italics for chapters or other pieces of text that have been cut [to] allow the reader to follow the action without reading all of Hugo's subplots and side remarks."
    com-pas-sion (n.) [ME. & OFr. <LL. (Ec.) compassio, sympathy < compassus, pp. of compati, to feel pity < L. com-, together + pali, to suffer] sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help; deep sympathy; pity

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    I read the unabridged version, which is about 5 books. I felt it was the greatest book I have ever read. I am a slow reader, so attacking this much text was quite a challenge, but I felt it was worth it. I feel if one is to read a classic like this, it should be in it's entire version and as the author intended it to be read. I am a bit of a purest about this, but if you don't truly have the time to indulge in the entire work, I would imagine the shortened versions are very good. I personally was very glad and felt fortunate to be able to read the entire book, having it be available to me (the set belongs to a friend). I did not regret it for one minute. I enjoyed it all, even though it did take me a good many hours to read. I learned much about the French Revolution, that I think I would have missed out on in the abridged version. It was a long read, but very engrossing.
    Last edited by Janine; 04-05-2008 at 06:26 PM.
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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Antiquarian;551770]Congratulations, Janine and others who've managed the unabridged version. I don't know if I could get through it, though I did get through Proust and loved every book.[quote]

    Thanks for the compliment, Antiquarian. I felt it was an achievement at the time. I am still proud that I did read that version. I do know those parts you mention, Dori, concerning the politicals sections of the book; Hugo did seem to go into long disortations on certain aspects of the political climate, at the time and the government/history/war. I had to perservere in those areas of the book, because I am not particularly politically minded, but they did not last too long before the main story came into focus again. I think these aspects added much to the magnitude and drama of the main, universal/eternal love theme and story.


    I always feel cheated if I read an abridged version, though in this case, I have to admit my version of Les Miserables is abridged by Laurence Porter. And yes, I'm ashamed of myself.
    Oh Antiquarian, don't be. I am sure you only had the time to devote to the abridged version and sounds like you read the best one. I ran up against that factor recently, when participating in the thread discussing "The Name of the Rose". I just did not have the time and my library owned the abridged audiobook, so I settled for that. Maybe someday, you will be able to read the entire unabridged version of "Les Miserables", but hey, if you don't remember -'so many books and so little time!' I still have not read other Hugo books I plan, like "The Hunchback of Notre Dame".


    And turning to the stage play, I don't know of any other play that's suffered so much because some people couldn't correctly pronounce its name.
    Yes, that is the truth.... I only knew how to pronounce the title myself (admitting this fact to all of you now ), because at the time, I knew this woman who could pronounce French; I worked with her - she was the proof-reader and she would mention the play often. Otherwise, I would have been running around also, sounding like a foolish idiot!

    A, email forthcoming tonight. J
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Registered User Etienne's Avatar
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    Flee abridged versions like pest. Abridged versions are one of the worst thing ever invented in my opinion.
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    Registered User Etienne's Avatar
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    Oh you seem to read a lot, what's 1800 pages after all? But everyone makes his own choice, I will never read abridged versions personally.

    Oh, and Gargantua and Pantagruel, is yet BETTER than how "better" it might look at the moment .
    Last edited by Etienne; 04-05-2008 at 09:13 PM.
    Et l'unique cordeau des trompettes marines

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiquarian View Post
    I once owned a copy of Gargantual and Pantagruel and even started reading it. I liked it, but I moved and it's still in Europe. I wouldn't mind buying a new copy, but I'm a slow reader, Etienne! But I did just look up the synopsis again, and it does sound very interesting. Now, I'm more undecided than ever.
    We might change my original phrase to "to many books, art, music, movies, and other life activities,.... and too, too, too... little time!

    Antiquarian, we can't do it all! We must prioritize, afterall.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Hugo did not write an "abridged" version, why read an "abridged" version.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnevans1 View Post
    Hugo did not write an "abridged" version, why read an "abridged" version.
    Because Hugo's version had a lot of side plots and historical facts that didn't add much to the main plot.

    That said, I would never dream of reading an abridged version of Les Misérables since the side plots and historical harangues do add signifigance to the main story and they are quite interesting if you are interested in french history.

    Each to his own though, some people don't like to drudge through the unabridged one waiting for the main plot to start up again. If that's the case, get yourself an abridged version. Don't let someone else's opinion decide that for you. Reading is for your personal enjoyment.

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    Registered User Rodya's Avatar
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    I am nearing the end of the abridged version by James Robinson, and I have to say, I will never read an abridged version again. In my defense, I bought it at a used bookstore without regarding the subtext saying it was abridged, and it was not my intent as I normally go out of my way to get the full text as the author intended.

    I am at the part where Marius and his comrades are defending the barricade as the French army is marching the streets, and I have no idea why. Granted, I do know why, as I know the history somewhat, but it just plunged right in to that. One chapter, Marius is desperately trying to find Cosette at the Rue de vaiile, and literally the next he is on the street screaming revolution and brandishing dual pistols. There was barely any exposition leading to the revolution, and it just plunged right into that. It is definitely lacking in that sense, but it is very readable still, as it almost always keeps the plot moving. It still works, but I personally enjoy politics, and back story, and I would like to hear more about that period in time from Hugo.
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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    I am not sure if there was a lot of exposition in that part, because after all Paris had been in this atmosphere pretty much since 1789... They are now in 1830, but still... Maybe it had been a little quieter for 10-15 years as the king took over again in 1815 or so (disregardng the 100 days that Napoleon came back and the occasional riots because of lack of food), but still, there was always an atmosphere of revolution.

    You don't so much feel it in that book, though. It suddenly erupts together with Marius and Cosette's love (). But, after all, history does not consider the misérables and they seem to be caught up in everything.

    What was before it though was something of an old man who was slowly getting through his money and his food or something. Mr Maboeuf. It's peculiar but I suppose an illustration of what really happened to the misérables and how little they were concerned with history in itself.

    You do know why Marius is at the barricade, I hope? Because he has heard that Cosette is having to go with her 'father' to England and that he did not receive an answer to his letter that Eponine out of selfishness did not deliver So he thinks Cosette hasn't replied... Poor Marius.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

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    Registered User Rodya's Avatar
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    Ah yes, I did get that, I just felt it a bit rushed. I am used to Dostoyevsky, who likes to take his time before his goes for the kill anyway.

    I actually just finished the book. I read the last 150 pages or so in one sitting, as I was really taken by it. I had the day off, and I couldn't focus on other things with Les Miserables in my head. Needless to say, it is incredible, and one of my new faves.
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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    If you like long, you should certainly read it in full then... Some parts are really... long. Mainly the history part.

    It seems you were lucky with your abridged version, because others tend to forget important clues.

    I read it in French, so no abridgments available there.

    It is truly a magnificent, philosophical work.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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