Author(s): Victor Hugo
A brilliant modern translation by Christine Donougher of Victor Hugo's thrilling masterpiece, with an introduction by Robert Tombs.
This is the best translation of the novel available in English, as recommended by David Bellos in The Novel of the Century.
Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty.
'A magnificent achievement. It reads easily, sometimes racily, and Hugo's narrative power is never let down ... An almost flawless translation, which brings the full flavour of one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century to new readers in the twenty-first' - William Doyle, Times Literary Supplement
'The year's most interesting publication from Penguin Classics was [...] a new translation by Christine Donougher of the novel we all know as Les Misérables. You may think that 1,300 pages is a huge investment of time when the story is so familiar, but no adaptation can convey the addictive pleasure afforded by Victor Hugo's narrative voice: by turns chatty, crotchety, buoyant and savagely ironical, it's made to seem so contemporary and fresh in Donougher's rendering that the book has all the resonance of the most topical state-of-the-nation novel' - Telegraph
'Christine Donougher's seamless and very modern translation of Les Misérables has an astonishing effect in that it reminds readers that Hugo was going further than any Dickensian lament about social conditions [...]The Wretched touches the soul' - Herald Scotland
An abridged edition of Victor Hugo's masterful novel of nineteeth century Parisian life.
"Hugo's genius was for the creation of simple and recognizable myth. The huge success of "Les Miserables "as a didactic work on behalf of the poor and oppressed is due to his poetic and myth-enlarged view of human nature." V. S. Pritchett "It was Tolstoy who vindicated [Hugo's] early ambition by judging "Les Miserables "one of the world's great novels, if not the greatest [His] ability to present the extremes of experience 'as they are' is, in the end, Hugo's great gift." From the Introduction by Peter Washington"
Victor Hugo (1802-1885) is one of the most well-regarded French writers of the nineteenth century. He was a poet, novelist and dramatist, and he is best remembered in English as the author of Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) (1831) and Les Miserables (1862). Hugo was born in Besancon, and became a pivotal figure of the Romantic movement in France, involved in both literature and politics. He founded the literary magazine Conservateur Litteraire in 1819, aged just seventeen, and turned his hand to writing political verse and drama after Louis-Philippe's accession to the throne in 1830. His literary output was curtailed following the death of his daughter in 1843, but he began a new novel as an outlet for his grief. Completed many years later, this novel became Hugo's most notable work, Les Miserables.