Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was the son of a high-ranking officer in Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Army. A man of literature and politics, he participated in vast changes as France careened back and forth between empire and more democratic forms of government. As a young man in Paris, he became well-known and sometimes notorious for his poetry, fiction, and plays. In 1845, the year that he began writing his masterwork, Les Miserables, the king made him a peer of France, with a seat in the upper legislative body. There he advocated universal free education, general suffrage, and the abolition of capital punishment. When an uprising in 1848 ushered in a republic, he stopped writing Les Miserables and concentrated on politics. But in 1851, when the president proclaimed himself emperor, Hugo's opposition forced him into a long exile on the British Channel Islands. There, in 1860, he resumed work on Les Miserables, finishing it the next year. With the downfall of the emperor in 1870, Hugo returned to France, where he received a hero's welcome as a champion of democracy. At his death in 1885, two million people lined the streets of Paris as his coffin was borne to the Pantheon. There he was laid to rest with every honor the French nation could bestow.
Victor Hugo lived in Besancon. Victor Hugo was born in 1807 and died in 1885.
Victor Hugo has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Les Miserables, French Edition?
Les Misérables - Volumes I, II, III - French Edition Jul 3, 2008
When I decided to read Les Misérables I was pursuing two objectives: to read a classic novel and to practice and improve my knowledge of the French language. Knowing how long the novel was, both goals seemed difficult to attain. I am happy to say that I was able to accomplish both.
Les Misérables is a fascinating novel in which the author denounces the French society of the 19th century. It tells the story of Jean Valjean, who after 19 years in prison is released only to realize that there is no place in society for a man like him. Reading the story, your learn about the marginal life ex prisoners have to live in a society that forces them to carry a document (a yellow passport) that they have to show all the time in order to function in society; the horrible situation unmarried women are placed in when society punishes them for having children out of wedlock; the situation of the the elderly; and also of abandoned children ...
Hugo also intercalates the main story with long passages of reflections about different subjects such as the history of the "argot", Waterloo, a description of the underground sewer system in Paris, that although they can be challenging for the reader because of their length, they enrich and complete the story. Les Misérables is not an easy book to read. In order to fully comprehend this story, it is necessary to have some knowledge of the historic events that took place during those years.
The third volume of the Pocket Classiques edition has a listing, in the back of the book, under Les Clés De L'Oeuvre, of the historic events that happened in France since 1723 until 1852, that are paralleled to the events of the story. This feature and a Larousse Encyclopedic Dictionary were very useful to me to identify the events as well as the historic characters that are named in the book.
Even though the vocabulary is not easy, with the aid of a dictionary, I was able to comprehend and enjoy the totality of the text. Due to Hugo's style, long paragraphs in which sentences are connected to each other to no end, to reflect the flow of the writer's thoughts, and the difficulty of the vocabulary, I would not recommend this reading to a French beginner or even an intermediate level. I laughed, I cried , I worried about the characters ... I spent hours reading the story without being able to put the book down. After finishing, Jean Valjean, Cossette, Fantine, Marius, Gavroche, Javert were in my mind and in my heart for a long time. I feel that Les Misérable enriched my life.
Un chef-d'oeuvre; dans la langue d'origine.... Feb 18, 2006
Les Misérables en français est un très excellent livre. Le texte est vraiment mieux que les traductions en anglais, tous ceux qui ne montrent pas la vrai beauté et grace de la prose d'auteur. L'histoire est d'un homme qui est presque detruit par son systeme de justice, d'un homme bon qui doit colleter avec son gouvernement parce qu'il croit dans le mieux-être de toute la humanité, même s'il doit donner sa vie.
D'ensemble, ce livre est un oeuvre de génie, et oui, peut-être les anglophones devraient le lire en anglais avant qu'ils commencent à le lire en français. Mais, de vraiment comprendre l'esprit d'un cerveau, on doit lire Les Misérables dans la langue d'origine. Je jure qu'on ne sera pas déçu avec le livre original. Il en vaut la peine de lire ce livre en français, mme si seulement d'enrichir la vie et l'esprit. Achetez ce livre et soyez content que vous avez gagné un vrai chef-d'oeuvre pour lire et chérir pour toute la vie.
Les Miserables - in French Jan 19, 2006
I am providing a feedback on other reviews of this title, not a review of my own. Unfortunately, I can't find another way to send feedback to the reviewers.
I've found it so very odd that all the reviewers of a French text have written their reviews in English. None addresses the advantages of the original text over a translation. So my question is: have any of you read the French version or are you reviewing the English text?
I am not trying to question your proficiency in French, but I suspect the this site system may be lumping all reviews together without regard for the particular version or edition reviewed.
A Classic Dec 6, 2005
Les Miserables is such a classic that one has the impression of already having read it, or seen it in one's mind, perhaps with Michel Bouquet in the role of Javert, or Gerard Depardieu. To read Les Miserables, published by Victor Hugo in 1862, offers the pleasure of recognition and a fresh beginning. Always one is carried away by the tension of this book, its unforgettable characters, is use of language--let us not forget that Hugo was the first to introduce slang and popular language into written French--its story and its time. The unhappy tale of Jean Valjean, from its progressive redemption, disastrous childhood of Cosette to the idylle with Marius, from the sacrificial figure of Fantine to the sinister characters of Thénardier and Javert, the novel is a beautiful lesson of humanity. "I come to destroy human fate," wrote Hugo, "I condemn slavery, I drive out misery, I inform ignorance, I treat the disease, I light the night, I hate hatred. This is what I am and for this reason I wrote Les Miserables."
Social Injustice Apr 25, 2004
This novel is one of the all-time classics in literature. It is a compelling story of a simple working man, Jean Valjean, caught up in the French "justice" system of the 19th century. His crime was petty. He broke into a bakery to get bread for starving family members (in the modern United States, he might have received probation). Because the baker's family lived in the building, he was charged with breaking into an occupied dwelling and sent to prison. In France, you were required to have a passport to travel within the country. Released from prison, he is given the infamous "yellow passport" issued to people with criminal records. An act of heroism allows him to obtain work without showing his passport, but his past catches up with him and he is sent to a prison galley for life for a second petty crime in his past as a "repeat offender."
He escapes and recovers a cache of gold that he had buried, then rescues the orphan daughter of a woman he had known, but is pursued by the relentless policeman Javert, a man who has no compassion and enforces the law to the letter.
Jean Valjean is a simple man and, basicly, is trying to help other people. The system does its best to grind him down. It is notable that the story ends when people are taking to the streets and building barricades in a fight against the very system that led to his troubles.