Les Miserables


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The Complete Five Volumes.



This version Translated in 1887 by Isabel F. Hapgood



(1862)






Les Misérables is set in the Parisian underworld. The protagonist, Jean Valjean, is sentenced to prison for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. After his release, Valjean plans to rob Monseigneur Myriel, a saintlike bishop, but cancels his plan. However, he forfeits his parole by committing a minor crime, and for this crime Valjean is haunted by the police inspector Javert. Valjean eventually reforms and becomes under the name of M. Madeleine a successful businessman, benefactor, and mayor of a northern town. To save an innocent man, Valjean gives himself up and is imprisoned in Toulon. He escapes and adopts Cosette, an illegitimate child of a poor woman, Fantine. Cosette grows up and falls in love with Marius, who is wounded during a revolutionary fight. Valjean rescues Marius by means of a flight through the sewers of Paris. Cosette and Marius marry and Valjean reveals his past. The story has been filmed several times and made into a musical by the composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and the librettist Alain Boublil, opening in 1980 in Paris. The English version was realised in 1985 and the Broadway version followed two years later.



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This is the story of Jean Valjean, a convict freshly out of prison after serving nineteen years hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread. The original sentence was five years; unsuccessful escape attempts and the resulting additional time pushed it to a grand total of nineteen years. He believed that his sentence was grossly out of proportion to his crime, and by the time of his release he had built up a tremendous bitterness toward society. This bitterness was only intensified by the rejection and scorn which he experienced in attempting to find work and lodging immediately after his release; he was determined to have his revenge against society and against God in some form or fashion. But an unthinkable act of mercy and generosity by a saintly small-town bishop drastically alters the trajectory of Valjean’s life. From that point on, Valjean determines to live as an honest man, and through the rest of the story he struggles–quite imperfectly at times–to become an honest man. Javert, an extremely zealous police chief who once supervised Valjean’s work gang, is never far behind, and is determined to have Valjean back in prison for breaking parole. Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, the owners of an inn in Montfermeil, are also pursuing Valjean for their own corrupt and dishonest ends. The story takes us from one end of France to the other, from the very top of Parisian society to the very bottom, from Waterloo to the July Revolution of 1830 and the student-led uprising of 1832 which serves as the story’s climax.--Submitted by Joseph Derbes



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The story of Les Miserables is the story of the man of law and the man of grace. Both men come from poverty. One becomes a convict the other a prison guard and then a police commissioner. Javert the man of law can never accept the grace given to Jean Val Jean the convict, through the kindness of a Bishop, accepts forgiveness. In the character of Javert the poice commissioner I see a reflection of Victor Hugo's own life. He put his faith in a better society for France with better conditions and laws but because of sin, saw the people were no better off and he became disillusioned.This is a wonderful story of how our lives can completely change through the forgiveness and grace of God giving us all another chance but we have to give away our pride and be prepared to become a humble servant of God and some of us maybe most of us are not prepared to do that. As the two year old child will say, "I do it myself".--Submitted by Barbara Sands


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Recent Forum Posts on Les Miserables

Something I wrote about my favorite book of all time!!!!!

To qimi and Hugo lovers on Litnet and worldwide, this one is for you! C'mon Hugo lovers, give Javert some suga! :D, :p I absolutely ADORE this scene. Hardcore Les Mis fans know what I'm talkin' about! O! Justice to Javert at the River Seine by ŠAdol09 One preached "a cube"!, Physics retorted "a sphere"! Morality teaches a view, judges learn not to hear I am akin of Javert on the River Seine Fishing for truth on the great divine From what branches of justice do ethic's fruit spring? From what crystal chords, do angel's lungs sing? So many questions need answers in so little time So willing am I to cast doubt from a pole with no line


*Spoilers be careful!* Certain themes in the Movie Version *Spoilers be careful!*

*SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!* This post involves the 2012 movie version of "Les Miserables". If you have NOT seen the movie or the musical please do not keep reading. Seriously. This post involves spoilers which could ruin the plot. The story of "Les Miserables", as you probably know, involves redemption. Jean Valjean turns from hate to love. From being bitter to being kind. In the movie his transformation seems to be easy and final. Yet in real life it is not as easy or as quick as that. When God helps people change for the better it is a process. There are days when people can be bitter and days they can be loving. Yet with God helping you there is hope. You will have bad days. I am being realistic. Having God in your life, praying to God, believing in God, praising God does not mean life will be perfect. Yet it DOES mean that He will be there to help you. For when you are down and out, you will have someone who wants to help you and can help you. That does not mean that you will not face trials. You may face a trial yet if you pass it then you will be stronger because of the trial and you will be closer to God. Please pray to God and ask Him into your life if you haven't. He wants you to know Him. He wants you to be free from sin. Yes, it is still possible to sin but with Christ you are forgiven. He sees your hurting heart and desires to see it healed. It may take time. Yet if you reach out to God and ask Him to help He will. It may not be immediate or in the way you expect, but He will help you. For there is God and His name is Jehovah. The Father sits on his eternal throne. There is Savior whose name is Jesus. There is a sentient Holy Spirit who is the third person in the Holy Trinity. Also pray for a church. Sit quietly and pray for God to lead you to people who truly believe in God and do their best to follow His teachings. This doesn't mean that they won't mess up. I know that I do; I am FAR from perfect. Yet there are people out there who can help you learn about God. Where you can be with people who teach about God. When you pray for a church, wait and reflect on what you think God is telling you. Then when you are sure then follow through and go talk to someone there. Remember, just because they are Christian does NOT mean that they are perfect. Yet these people can still help you learn about God. The church you choose to go to can be a place for you to learn and grow in God. You need to take the first step but He will meet you. For He is faithful and true. *SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!**SPOILERS!*


comparing Val Jean to Christ & ????

I am reading Les Miserables for 5th time in the 20 years I've known of it. I've wondered about this question before, but this time I'm taking more time to try and answer it correctly! Book Seventh, part III - A Tempest in the Skull. I'll take the text directly from this site. Monsieur Madeleine has returned from hiring a horse after hearing (via Javert) that another man was to be punished in his place. As he describes Valjean's state of mind, Hugo makes two comparisons. First, "...which said to him: "Think!" as it said to another condemned man, two thousand years ago, "March on!" Second, "Eighteen hundred years before this unfortunate man, the mysterious Being in whom are summed up all the sanctities and all the sufferings of humanity..." The second reference is clearly to Christ. This first puzzles me. If we go from when it was written, the reference is to 138 BC, but of course, it could be a rounded figure. Any insights?


Les Miserables new household edition signed by Hugo??

I was wondering if anyone knew about the Le Miserables new household edition books? I came across a few volumes of one, Vol 1 interested me the most as it has Victor Hugos signature on the first page underneath his picture! I wanted to know if it could possibly be a real signature or if that is how they printed that page, it looks real but I am sceptical (and have bad eye sight!). The book doesnt have a date but someone signed it with there name and '94......Any help would be nice! Thanks


signed coppy of Les Miserables

I found coppies of Les miserables (I) and Les Miserables (II) with signatures in the back of them I was hoping to get some information on them. Les Miserables (II) is signed by Andrew Louis Radinovich July 15, 1956, and Crosby Minnesol (the last letter of the name i can not figure out) also has the name Nrbain Fabre at least that is what it looks like. Les miserables (I) has alot more signatures in it I will list a few of them Mabiel Dunn 24-Chubby Frances Folts 24-Fransie Dorothy Tripp 24-Dot Inez David 24 Tapper Paula Cody 24 Lestereta Teresa McDonald 24 Bill Opal Birk 24 Orphia I am not sure if the 24 after every name is for the year and the name after the 24 is maybe the character. My thought is maybe it is signed by actors that played parts in the play in 1924. I realy have no clue any information would be great


Differences in translations

I just quoted the english text of Les Miserables somwhere and noticed a dfifference to my german edition. In Volume IV, Book 14, chapter VI Eponine says: "But perhaps you will be angry with me for it when we meet again presently?" In german she adds "man sieht sich doch wieder, nicht wahr?" (approx. : "We ARE going to meet again, aren't we?" meaning it in general not only she and Marius) which comes near to a religious statement, a confession of faith. I wonder how this may be in the french original or in other translations. Any ideas?


Anyone help me out?

I'm writing this summary for Les Mis, and I think it's great, but I would like a second pair of eyes to look over it to see if I've missed anything or if I have any inaccuracies. Since none of my family has read the book, this is my only resort. Help me out? :D "Jean Valjean has been released from prison after stealing a loaf of bread and all the inn’s in town reject him because of his status as an ex-convict. After M. Myriel lets him stay in a church, Valjean repays him by stealing. When authorities get into the problem, Myriel defends him and from then on Valjean struggles to become and honorable man. Years later, Valjean has become mayor under his new identity of Monsieur Madeline. The new name Valjean adopts is the key for him achieving all he wants to peruse. Soon after, a police officer named Javert, an old foe, attempts to arrest him. Valjean leaves the town before Javert can get near him though and in his effort to help the poverty-stricken, he meets a mother, Fantine, and her daughter, Cosette. The father, Tholomyčs is no longer in the picture because he abandoned her after Cosette was born. Fantine was rather forced into sending Cosette to the Thenardiers, a family that owns an inn, and has turned to prostitution to pay the monthly “fee” they demanded of her. Now sick and about to die, she asks Valjean to get Cosette away from the family so she will be more safe. Javert finds that Madeline is truly Valjean and as he is with Fantine, Javert arrests him. Fantine dies from the shock. After Valjean escapes from prison, he stands by Fantine’s request and learns that the family that is “taking care” of Cosette wickedly abuses her and that they have very little money. Valjean snatches the little girl and raises her as if she were his true daughter. Cosette grows older and eventually she falls in love with a man named Marius Pontmercy. Marius in return ends up loving Cosette as well. Valjean soon has to deal with the pain of losing her, but all the same, the two marry and soon after, Valjean dies in the presence of both."


I really just want to discuss Les Mis. Anyone out there have something to say please?

Tell me what you thought of the book as a whole. Or discuss minor details you found interesting. Favorite characters? Why you like them. Things that confused you. Your favorite part. The book's relation to the musical. Anything. Just so long as you are enthusiastic. (Also, no spoilers on Hugo's other books, please. I haven't read them. Reccommendations, however, are welcome.) For example, I was very surprised at the amount of instances the word "badass" applies to this novel. Seriously. Particularly in respect to Jean Valjean and Javert. Although Marius, Gavroche, and Eponine have their own badass-ness too. Also the revolutionaries, and Mabeuf, and the bishop.... well, you get the idea.


Les Miserables: two questions...

Greetings everyone. So I'm reading Les Mis this summer, but have found myself confronted every chapter or so with a very annoying question. Frequently, in the name of a place (usually, conveniently, of one central to the plot), there remains simply the first letter and then a dash. Hence, what should be "bishop of Digne" (I checked the French) becomes "bishop of D--". The version I have (Wordworth Classics) does this, as do some other translations I have come across, but I also notice that in some editions these names are fully printed, as they are in the original text. Obviously, the solution is to switch versions, and I will do so if and when the annoyance of having to look up the names in French reaches a breaking point, but until then, I will satisfy myself with figuring out (and I have had no success so far) exactly why this irregular and seemingly pointless convention is adopted in some English versions of this and some other texts. My second question has to do with the multitudinous translations available of Les Mis. I understand that despite the many variations in translation, most today are based on the original English version published just months after the release of the French edition. However, I have heard a great number of opinions on what variant is "best". Granted, this is to some degree subjective, yet I would appreciate input, particularly if anyone happens to know exactly what translation is used in the Wordworth Classics publication (probably one out of copyright, but of those there are multiple) and how it compares to other translations. I hear the mass-market paperback is the best modern translation, so I am considering picking up that, but I'm somewhat reticent to spend an extra seven bucks on an new edition of a book of which I already own a copy, unless someone can speak to a large and appreciable difference in that translation, or in another translation. Thank you all for your time and attention in advance. -Landon


Les Miserables?

Although I started to read this book, Les Miserables some time ago and even started a discussion about the book, I had to lay the book down due to some issues going on domestically. However, I am in a position now to re-start the book as well as the discussion, and I would enjoin anyone who might be interested in doing so -- join me. When I started the discussion some time ago, I did notice (by way of correspondence with others) that there are some problems with the translations, and I would like to bring those forth to the group as well and discuss what they might mean in terms of the entire text, or in individual chapters. I currently have the copy translated by C.E. Wilbur. This is a fascinating story! I would like others interested to join me in this endeavor! :D


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