Les Miserables : Volume One, Paperback

Les Miserables : Volume One Paperback

Part of the Wordsworth Classics series

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


With an Introduction and Notes by Roger Clark, University of Kent at Canterbury.

Translation by Charles E. Wilbour (1862). One of the great classics of western literature, Les Miserables is a magisterial work which is rich in both character portrayal and meticulous historical description.

Characters such as the absurdly criminalised Valjean, the street urchin Gavroche, the rascal Thenardier, the implacable detective Javert, and the pitiful figure of the prostitute Fantine and her daughter Cosette, have entered the pantheon of literary dramatis personae.

The reader is also treated to the unforgettable descriptions of the Battle of Waterloo and Valjean's flight through the Paris sewers.

Volume 1 of 2


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528 pages, notes
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9781853260858


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A stunning read, given that it is a doorstop-sized nineteenth-century novel with a cast of thousands. Dickens would make this story long-winded and turgid, with the sort of word-count padding you expect from hack writers of a later era; Hugo gives you exactly the information you need to portray the places, the people and the times.The characters are not in any way idealised; Valjean is tragic, Javert is obsessed, Fantine drifts into prostitution as the victim of a rich kid and really remains a victim for the rest of her life, and Thénardier is an utter bastard. (If the well-known musical has a fault, it's that it sets out to make Thénardier and his wife lovable rogues, and they are anything but.)All this is set against the background of major events, all of which are depicted with an almost journalistic immediacy. In the end, the major characters get what they deserve; Valjean gets absolution of a sort, Javert's obsession drives him to suicide when the truth of Valjean's goodness is no longer avoidable, and Thénardier gets a comfortable living on a plantation in the West Indies but dies a (hopefully) nasty death years down the line from a tropical disease.Yes, I hate Thénardier; and that says something about the characterisation, because I don't normally do hate. And he isn't even a real person!

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