Victor Hugo began writing Les Misérables 20 years before its eventual publication in 1862. It is primarily a great humanitarian work that encourages compassion and hope in the face of adversity and injustice. It is also a historical novel of great scope, one that provides a detailed vision of 19th-century French politics and society. Hugo hoped Les Misérables would encourage a more progressive and democratic future and wrote the novel with a literary and political revolution in mind. Les Misérables emphasizes the three major predicaments of the 19th century, each symbolized by a major character: Jean Valjean represents the degradation of man in the proletariat, Fantine represents the subjection of women through hunger, and Cosette represents the atrophy of the child by darkness.More
"Hugo's genius was for the creation of simple and recognisable myth. The huge success of Les Miserables as a didactic work on behalf of the poor and oppressed is due to its poetic and myth-enlarged view of human nature....Hugo himself called this novel 'a religious work', and it has indeed the necessary air of having been written by God in one of his more accessible and saleable moods." (V.S. Pritchett)
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TOO Abridged, Read Only if You Won't Read More
This Abridged version misses out Fantine’s story!
There was no unabridged version available when I downloaded this. On re-listening, I realize that despite the fact the first volume of the novel is titled “Fantine” - read out at the start of the audiobook, her story is more-or-less cut,and in a choppy and unsatisfactory manner. She is mentioned about twice, then we see her as a dying woman as Jean Valjean promises to take care of Cosette. I think Victor Hugo was sympathetic to the fate of “les grisettes“, and we should hear about it, so I wouldn’t recommend this version.