Les Misérables

Title:             Les Misérables

Author:         Victor Hugo

Place:            France

Publisher:      New York, USA: Signet Classics, 1987

Pages:            1,508

Price:            $8.95(U.S) $9.99(CAN)

ISBN:           978-0-451-52526-0

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My Review

Whenever I got the chance to go outside I never failed to visit one or two bookstores. I love books and seeing them on those shelves made my stress relieves. But to buy one or two books of my liking is like immeasurable happiness; and it was happiness that I found in Les Misérables. Originally, the book of Victor Hugo isn’t in my list to buy when I was browsing the classic section in a bookstore. I was really aiming to buy The Three Musketeers of Alexander Dumas since the bookstore is having sale during Christmas. Yet for some reason Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables got a good grip on me.

What I generally know is the setting of the novel was around the French Revolution, and the exact translation of the Les Misérables is The Miserable. I am an anime fan and there’s this series titled Cosette: The Miserable and there I saw how badly she was treated there by a family who seems to adopt her. I haven’t finished the series so I didn’t know if she got out from that hateful family. I haven’t started the series also so I don’t have any idea how did she end up with that family.

What’s the deciding factor for me to pick this book? One is thickness of the book. The more pages, the happy I am. Two is the edition in paperback, it was complete and unabridged and I am so delighted with that. Fourth, it is cheaper from the other publisher that isn’t unabridged. Lastly, it has a movie. My brother and his girlfriend were urging me to watch the movie but I chose not to because I want to read it first. And now that I finished reading it, I’m ready to watch the movie. Hurray!

The author, Victor Hugo, was born during Napoleon’s regime in 1802, and a son of high ranking officer in an army which explains his knowledge in military. After the fall of the great conqueror, his family straightened up and settled in Paris. From there, Hugo focused in his literary career and made him elected in Academe for revolutionizing French Literature. Hugo also entered politics and earned him a post in National Assembly yet was put in exile for going against Louis Napoleon. His exile became a flint of a revolution from unjust government. After the revolution, Hugo was welcomed back as a hero and continued to serve the public as well as writing with unwavering passion. He died in 1885 and buried in Pantheon.

Les Misérables is one of the most celebrated novels in world literature. It is classic and I love classic novels. I am entrance how those authors played the words and made them a beautiful scene. But what made me love this work of Victor Hugo is how he describes a simple words and gave them a deeper meaning that makes me agree with him. Such words are progress, love, misery. I can’t, honestly, remember what was Hugo trying to say about those couple of words I mentioned but I can still remember the feeling of agreeing on he says as if he’s lecturing me in a class and he made me opened my eyes that that is the true meaning of those words and I will start to smile in wonder and amazement. Like in math class in my third grade and my math teacher made it fun for me to take the lesson seriously since I’m not so fond of it, something like that feeling. And when I’m finally at the end part of the story I cried in relief and sadness for the last person who struggles a lot in misery: Jean Valjean.

As I’ve said earlier, Les Misérables is a French translation of The Miserable. Each character’s in the story has their story of misery. We may all know Fantine, Cosette, Marius and Jean Valjean’s misery. But the lesser characters like the Thenadiers, the grandfather Gillenormand, the aunt Gillenormand, Monsieur Mabeuf, Inspector Javert and even the thefts, children astray has also their own story of misery. Even a dead man has also a story of misery, would you believe that? I cannot find a single all the way happiness because the story is all about the misery of the people in different views that has taken from real misery of real people. I was once miserable when I was studying in college and I strongly thought the only way to get out in such misery is to be dead. That view of mine was now validated with this novel. But to die without fighting is a total pity. “It is nothing to die; it is horrible not to live.”(pg. 1,458)

On the other hand, reading this complete and unabridged book is kinda tiring. A lot of description of places in France was “well” written that would be tempted to skip those pages and follow the characters journey. Even a single room is fully described in very long sentences, and long paragraphs. But that is Hugo, and he wrote Les Misérables according in what he sees in his country. To be honest, I was also tempted to skip those I think unnecessary chapters. But I didn’t do it because I felt it’s a sin to ignore what he passionately wrote. Nonetheless, if you would decided to read Les Misérables and you don’t want to be bored right away then pick the version that isn’t unabridged.

So this is my first book review: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Making this kind of writing is new to me so any comments, suggestions are welcome. After all, I won’t improve in this if I won’t have any feedbacks, right? Please tell me what I did right, what I did wrong, and what is missing, okay? Thanks.

Next book: Game of Thrones Book 1 by George R.R. Martin.

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