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, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; 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 compelling and compassionate view of the victims of early nineteenth-century French society, Les Misérables is a novel on an epic scale, moving inexorably from the eve of the battle of Waterloo to the July Revolution of 1830.
This striking edition features the widely celebrated and eminently readable translation by Norman Denny.
When poverty drives Jean Valjean to steal a loaf of bread from a baker’s window, it is an action that will haunt him for the rest of his life. A citizen of post-revolutionary France, he is sentenced to nineteen years’ hard labour. On his release, his fortunes change and he becomes a respectable businessman and member of society - and yet his past continues to dog him in the form of the sadistic Inspector Javert, who seems determined to pursue Valjean to the grave.
A student uprising is gaining momentum in Paris, and barricades are being built around the city. Valjean’s adopted daughter, Cosette, has fallen in love with the young revolutionary Marius, and the lives of all three are in peril unless they can flee to safety.
Some of the most significant moments in 19th Century history form the backdrop for Victor Hugo’s powerful story, in which love and heroism march in the face of poverty and social injustice.