A WORD WRITTEN ON A WHITE PAGE
Christmas Day in the year 182- was somewhat remarkable in the island of Guernsey. Snow fell on that day. In the Channel Islands a frosty winter is uncommon, and a fall of snow is an event.
On that Christmas morning, the road which skirts the seashore from St. Peter's Port to the Vale was clothed in white. From midnight till the break of day the snow had been falling. Towards nine o'clock, a little after the rising of the wintry sun, as it was too early yet for the Church of England folks to go to St. Sampson's, or for the Wesleyans to repair to Eldad Chapel, the road was almost deserted. Throughout that portion of the highway which separates the first from the second tower, only three foot-passengers could be seen. These were a child, a man, and a woman. Walking at a distance from each other, these wayfarers had no visible connection. The child, a boy of about eight years old, had stopped, and was looking curiously at the wintry scene. The man walked behind the woman, at a distance of about a hundred paces. Like her he was coming from the direction of the church of St. Sampson. The appearance of the man, who was still young, was something between that of a workman and a sailor. He wore his working-day clothes—a kind of Guernsey shirt of coarse brown stuff, and trousers partly concealed by tarpaulin leggings—a costume which seemed to indicate that, notwithstanding the holy day, he was going to no place of worship. His heavy shoes of rough leather, with their soles covered with large nails, left upon the snow, as he walked, a print more like that of a prison lock than the foot of a man. The woman, on the contrary, was evidently dressed for church. She wore a large mantle of black silk, wadded, under which she had coquettishly adjusted a dress of Irish poplin, trimmed alternately with white and pink; but for her red stockings, she might have been taken for a Parisian. She walked on with a light and free step, so little suggestive of the burden of life that it might easily be seen that she was young. Her movements possessed that subtle grace which indicates the most delicate of all transitions—that soft intermingling, as it were, of two twilights—the passage from the condition of a child to that of womanhood. The man seemed to take no heed of her.
Sentenced to death!
For five whole weeks have I lived with this one thought, always alone with it, always frozen by its ghastly presence, always crushed beneath its overwhelming weight.
At first, years ago, as it seemed, not mere weeks as it really was, I was a man like any other. Every day, every hour, every minute was ruled by its own idea. My intellect, young and fresh, lost itself in a world of fantasy. I amused myself in mapping out a life without order, and without end, weaving into a thousand fantastic patterns the coarse and slender tissue of my existence. There were lovely girls, cardinals’ copes, victories won, theatres full of life and light, and then again the young girls, and walks in the twilight under the spreading boughs of the chestnut trees. My imagination always pictured scenes of pleasure. My thoughts were free, and therefore I was free also.
But now I am a prisoner. My body is in irons in a dungeon, and my soul is fettered by an idea—one horrible, murderous, and implacable idea. I have but one thought, one certainty, one deep-rooted conviction, and that is that I am under sentence of death!
Do what I may, that one terrible thought is ever with me, like a spectre by my side, lonely and jealous, driving away every effort that I may make to liberate myself from its presence, face to face with me, and clutching me with its icy hand when I endeavour to turn aside my head, or to close my eyes upon its horrifying existence.
It intrudes itself into all the thoughts by which I vainly strive to forget it; I hear it like a horrible chorus in every word that is addressed to me; it places its face against mine as I glance through the barred windows of my dungeon; it attacks me whilst waking, it haunts my spasmodic efforts at sleep, and appears in my dreams under the form of the axe of the guillotine.
CHAPTER I. EARLY YEARS.
The glory of France touched its zenith at the period when our narrative opens. Europe virtually lay at the feet of Napoleon, who had risen to a height of authority and power which might well have satisfied the most vaulting ambition. Nations whose records extended back into the ages of antiquity trembled before him; and only one people, that of this sea-girt isle of Britain, declined to bend the knee to the all-conquering First Consul. Yet the philosophic mind, reflecting that the stability of a nation or a throne must be measured by its growth, must surely have distrusted the permanence of a grandeur and a greatness thus rapidly achieved. And speedily would such prevision have been justified, for in little more than one brief decade the sun of Napoleon set as suddenly as it arose.
But while as yet the fame and the splendour of the conqueror were in their noonday, there was born at Besançon another child of genius, whose triumphs were to be won in a different and a nobler sphere. He was destined to touch, as with Ithuriel's spear, the sleeping spirit of French poesy, and to animate it with new life, vigour, and enthusiasm; he was to recall the divine muse from the drear region of classicism, and, by revivifying almost every branch of imaginative literature, he was himself to gain the triple crown of poet, romancist, and dramatist. And not alone for this was the child Victor Hugo to grow into manhood and venerable age. He was to become a great apostle of liberty, and as his life opened with the triumphs of the first Napoleon, so before its close he was destined to behold the last of that name pass away in the whirlwind, and France recover much of her prosperity and her power under the ægis of the Republic, of which the poet sang and for which he laboured.
Ursus and Homo were fast friends. Ursus was a man, Homo a wolf. Their dispositions tallied. It was the man who had christened the wolf: probably he had also chosen his own name. Having found Ursus fit for himself, he had found Homo fit for the beast. Man and wolf turned their partnership to account at fairs, at village fêtes, at the corners of streets where passers-by throng, and out of the need which people seem to feel everywhere to listen to idle gossip and to buy quack medicine. The wolf, gentle and courteously subordinate, diverted the crowd. It is a pleasant thing to behold the tameness of animals. Our greatest delight is to see all the varieties of domestication parade before us. This it is which collects so many folks on the road of royal processions.
Ursus and Homo went about from cross-road to cross-road, from the High Street of Aberystwith to the High Street of Jedburgh, from country-side to country-side, from shire to shire, from town to town. One market exhausted, they went on to another. Ursus lived in a small van upon wheels, which Homo was civilized enough to draw by day and guard by night. On bad roads, up hills, and where there were too many ruts, or there was too much mud, the man buckled the trace round his neck and pulled fraternally, side by side with the wolf. They had thus grown old together. They encamped at haphazard on a common, in the glade of a wood, on the waste patch of grass where roads intersect, at the outskirts of villages, at the gates of towns, in market-places, in public walks, on the borders of parks, before the entrances of churches. When the cart drew up on a fair green, when the gossips ran up open-mouthed and the curious made a circle round the pair, Ursus harangued and Homo approved. Homo, with a bowl in his mouth, politely made a collection among the audience. They gained their livelihood. The wolf was lettered, likewise the man. The wolf had been trained by the man, or had trained himself unassisted, to divers wolfish arts, which swelled the receipts. "Above all things, do not degenerate into a man," his friend would say to him.
Never did the wolf bite: the man did now and then. At least, to bite was the intent of Ursus. He was a misanthrope, and to italicize his misanthropy he had made himself a juggler. To live, also; for the stomach has to be consulted. Moreover, this juggler-misanthrope, whether to add to the complexity of his being or to perfect it, was a doctor. To be a doctor is little: Ursus was a ventriloquist. You heard him speak without his moving his lips. He counterfeited, so as to deceive you, any one's accent or pronunciation. He imitated voices so exactly that you believed you heard the people themselves. All alone he simulated the murmur of a crowd, and this gave him a right to the title of Engastrimythos, which he took. He reproduced all sorts of cries of birds, as of the thrush, the wren, the pipit lark, otherwise called the gray cheeper, and the ring ousel, all travellers like himself: so that at times when the fancy struck him, he made you aware either of a public thoroughfare filled with the uproar of men, or of a meadow loud with the voices of beasts—at one time stormy as a multitude, at another fresh and serene as the dawn. Such gifts, although rare, exist. In the last century a man called Touzel, who imitated the mingled utterances of men and animals, and who counterfeited all the cries of beasts, was attached to the person of Buffon—to serve as a menagerie.
THE FOREST OF LA SAUDRAIE.
During the last days of May, 1793, one of the Parisian battalions introduced into Brittany by Santerre was reconnoitring the formidable La Saudraie Woods in Astillé. Decimated by this cruel war, the battalion was reduced to about three hundred men. This was at the time when, after Argonne, Jemmapes, and Valmy, of the first battalion of Paris, which had numbered six hundred volunteers, only twenty-seven men remained, thirty-three of the second, and fifty-seven of the third,—a time of epic combats. The battalion sent from Paris into La Vendée numbered nine hundred and twelve men. Each regiment had three pieces of cannon. They had been quickly mustered. On the 25th of April, Gohier being Minister of Justice, and Bouchotte Minister of War, the section of Bon Conseil had offered to send volunteer battalions into La Vendée; the report was made by Lubin, a member of the Commune. On the 1st of May, Santerre was ready to send off twelve thousand men, thirty field-pieces, and one battalion of gunners. These battalions, notwithstanding they were so quickly formed, serve as models even at the present day, and regiments of the line are formed on the same plan; they altered the former proportion between the number of soldiers and that of non-commissioned officers.
On the 28th of April the Paris Commune had given to the volunteers of Santerre the following order: "No mercy, no quarter." Of the twelve thousand that had left Paris, at the end of May eight thousand were dead. The battalion which was engaged in La Saudraie held itself on its guard. There was no hurrying: every man looked at once to right and to left, before him, behind him. Kléber has said: "The soldier has an eye in his back." They had been marching a long time. What o'clock could it be? What time of the day was it? It would have been hard to say; for there is always a sort of dusk in these wild thickets, and it was never light in that wood. The forest of La Saudraie was a tragic one. It was in this coppice that from the month of November, 1792, civil war began its crimes; Mousqueton, the fierce cripple, had come forth from those fatal thickets; the number of murders that had been committed there made one's hair stand on end. No spot was more terrible.
Notre-Dame de Paris
Also known as:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
by Victor Hugo
A few years ago, while visiting or, rather, rummaging about Notre-Dame, the author of this book found, in an obscure nook of one of the towers, the following word, engraved by hand upon the wall:--
These Greek capitals, black with age, and quite deeply graven in the stone, with I know not what signs peculiar to Gothic caligraphy imprinted upon their forms and upon their attitudes, as though with the purpose of revealing that it had been a hand of the Middle Ages which had inscribed them there, and especially the fatal and melancholy meaning contained in them, struck the author deeply.
He questioned himself; he sought to divine who could have been that soul in torment which had not been willing to quit this world without leaving this stigma of crime or unhappiness upon the brow of the ancient church.
Afterwards, the wall was whitewashed or scraped down, I know not which, and the inscription disappeared. For it is thus that people have been in the habit of proceeding with the marvellous churches of the Middle Ages for the last two hundred years. Mutilations come to them from every quarter, from within as well as from without. The priest whitewashes them, the archdeacon scrapes them down; then the populace arrives and demolishes them.
Thus, with the exception of the fragile memory which the author of this book here consecrates to it, there remains to-day nothing whatever of the mysterious word engraved within the gloomy tower of Notre-Dame,--nothing of the destiny which it so sadly summed up. The man who wrote that word upon the wall disappeared from the midst of the generations of man many centuries ago; the word, in its turn, has been effaced from the wall of the church; the church will, perhaps, itself soon disappear from the face of the earth.
It is upon this word that this book is founded.
Examining the nature of law and grace, the novel elaborates upon the history of France, the architecture and urban design of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love. Les Misérables has been popularized through numerous adaptations for the stage, television, and film, including a musical and a film adaptation of that musical.
The appearance of the novel was highly anticipated and advertised. Critical reactions were diverse, but most of them were negative. Commercially, the work was a great success globally.
Esmeralda (born Agnes) is a beautiful young Gypsy street dancer who is naturally compassionate and kind. She is the center of the human drama within the story. A popular focus of the citizens' attentions, she experiences their changeable attitudes, being first adored as an entertainer, then hated as a witch, before being lauded again for her beliefs will rightly protect her but who simply wants to seduce her. She is one of the few characters to show Quasimodo a moment of human kindness, as shown when she gives him water after the hunchback's flogging. She is eventually revealed to not actually be a gypsy, but was abducted by them and was replaced with the deformed Quasimodo.
Claude Frollo, the novel's main antagonist, is the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. His dour attitude and his alchemical experiments have alienated him from the Parisians, who believe him a sorcerer. His parents having died of plague when he was a young man, he is without family save for Quasimodo, for whom he cares, and his spoiled brother Jehan, whom he attempts to reform towards a better life. Frollo's numerous sins include lechery, failed alchemy and other listed vices. His mad attraction to Esmeralda sets off a chain of events, including her attempted abduction and Frollo almost murdering Phoebus in a jealous rage, leading to Esmeralda's execution.
Jehan Frollo is Claude Frollo's 16-year-old over-indulged younger brother. He is a troublemaker and a student at the university. He is dependent on his brother for money, which he then proceeds to squander on alcohol. Quasimodo kills him during the attack on the cathedral. He briefly enters the cathedral by ascending one of the towers with a borrowed ladder, but Quasimodo sees him and throws him down to his death.
Phoebus de Chateaupers is the Captain of the King's Archers. After he saves Esmeralda from abduction, she becomes infatuated with him, and he is intrigued by her. Already betrothed to the beautiful but spiteful Fleur-de-Lys, he wants to lie with Esmeralda nonetheless but is prevented when Frollo stabs him. Phoebus survives but Esmeralda is taken to be the attempted assassin by all, including Phoebus himself. He is later married to Fleur-de-Lys and is miserable.
Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier is a beautiful and wealthy socialite engaged to Phoebus. Phoebus's attentions to Esmeralda make her insecure and jealous, and she and her friends respond by treating Esmeralda with contempt and spite. Fleur-de-Lys later neglects to inform Phoebus that Esmeralda has not been executed, which serves to deprive the pair of any further contact—though as Phoebus no longer loves Esmeralda by this time, this does not matter. The novel ends with their wedding.
Pierre Gringoire, the novel's protagonist, is a struggling poet. He mistakenly finds his way into the "Court of Miracles", the domain of the Truands. In order to preserve the secrecy, Gringoire must either be killed by hanging, or marry a Gypsy. Although Esmeralda does not love him, and in fact believes him a coward rather than a true man — unlike Phoebus, he failed in his attempt to rescue her from Quasimodo — she takes pity on his plight and marries him. But, because she is already in love with Phoebus, much to his disappointment, she will not let him touch her.
Sister Gudule, formerly named Paquette la Chantefleurie, is an anchoress, who lives in seclusion in an exposed cell in central Paris. She is tormented by the loss of her daughter Agnes, whom she believes to have been cannibalised by Gypsies as a baby, and devotes her life to mourning her. Her long-lost daughter turns out to be Esmeralda.
Louis XI is the King of France. Appears briefly when he is brought the news of the rioting at Notre Dame. He orders his guard to kill the rioters, and also the "witch" Esmeralda.
Tristan l'Hermite is a friend of King Louis XI. He leads the band that goes to capture Esmeralda.
Henriet Cousin is the city executioner, who hangs Esmeralda.
Florian Barbedienne is the judge who sentences Quasimodo to be tortured. He is also deaf.
Jacques Charmolue is Frollo's friend in charge of torturing prisoners. He gets Esmeralda to falsely confess to killing Phoebus. He then has her imprisoned.
Clopin Trouillefou is the King of Truands. He rallies the Court of Miracles to rescue Esmeralda from Notre Dame after the idea is suggested by Gringoire. He is eventually killed during the attack by the King's soldiers.
Pierrat Torterue is the torturer who tortures Esmeralda after her interrogation. He hurts Esmeralda so badly she falsely confesses, sealing her own fate. He was also the official who administered the savage flogging awarded to Quasimodo by Barbedienne.
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.
Rich in detail, packed with adventure, and filled with the sweep of human passions, Les Misérables is more than a literary masterpiece—it remains a powerful social document. Dedicated to the poor, the oppressed, and the misunderstood, this captivating novel captures the impossible societal layers—and the essence of life—as it truly existed in nineteenth-century France.
This fine edition features the renowned original translation and a sensitive abridgment.
‘Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being.’
Set in medieval Paris, against the backdrop of the brooding Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Hugo’s take on the classic story of Beauty and the Beast tells of the hunchbacked, grotesque bellringer, Quasimodo. Rejected by Parisian society because of his appearance, Quasimodo resides in Notre-Dame, harbouring a love for the only woman that pities him, a gypsy named Esmerelda. However, a sinister archdeacon also covets Esmerelda, and when his advances are spurned, he seeks to destroy her.
Les Miserables tells the story of ex-convict, Jean Valjean, and his valiant struggle to redeem his past. A potent social document of the poverty, ignorance, and brutality of man, Les Miserables is also a rousing adventure story, famous for such unrivaled scenes as the brilliant depiction of the Battle of Waterloo. Victor Hugo reached the peak of his powers in this far-reaching novel of nineteenth-century France. Here are combined the dramatic skills of Hugo the playwright, the rich imagination of Hugo the poet, and the compassion of Hugo the man.
Enriched Classics enhance your engagement by introducing and explaining the historical and cultural significance of the work, the author’s personal history, and what impact this book had on subsequent scholarship. Each book includes discussion questions that help clarify and reinforce major themes and reading recommendations for further research.
Read with confidence.
This edition of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame includes a Foreword, Biographical Note, and Afterword by Elizabeth Massie.
He was Quasimodo--the bell ringer of Notre Dame. For most of his life he has been forced to live in lonely isolation in the bell tower of the famous catheral--hidden away like a beast, banished from sight, shunned and despised by all. For though he was gentle and kind, it was Quasimodo's crime to have been born hideously deformed. But one day his heart would prove to be a thing of rare beauty.
She was the dazzling Esmerelda. A dark-eyed gypsy girl who, the victim of a coward's jealous rage, is unjustly convicted of a crime she did not commit. Her sentence is death by hanging.
Only one man had the courage to save her: Quasimodo.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
* concise introductions to the novels and other works
* images of how the novels first appeared, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts
* ALL 9 novels in English, each with contents tables
* many of the novels are fully-illustrated with their original artwork
* includes BUG-JARGAL – Hugo’s first novel, which he wrote after a wager – first time in digital print!
* for the first time, all novels are presented with their French versions – sample the true brilliance of Hugo’s original text, in between reading the English translations
* features a large sample of English translations of poetry
* BONUS selection of six Non-Fiction texts
* boasts a special literary criticism section, with works by famous writers such as Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry James, examining Hugo’s contribution to literature
* includes Hugo’s Memoirs – explore the great writer’s private notebooks!
* ALSO includes G. Barnett Smith’s famous biography – immerse yourself in Hugo’s literary life!
* packed full of images relating to Hugo’s life, works, places and film adaptations
* scholarly ordering of texts in chronological order and literary genres, allowing easy navigation around Hugo’s immense oeuvre
Please note: an actual complete works of Victor Hugo in English is not possible due to copyright restrictions, scarce plays and some works having never been translated. However, we do ensure our customers that every possible major text is included.
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HANS OF ICELAND
THE LAST DAY OF A CONDEMNED MAN
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME
TOILERS OF THE SEA
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS
The Novels in French
POEMS IN TRANSLATION
ODES ET BALLADES
LES FEUILLES D’AUTOMNE
LES CHANTS DU CREPUSCULE
LES VOIX INTÉRIEURES
LES RAYONS ET LES OMBRES
LA LÉGENDE DES SIÈCLES: PREMIERE SERIE
LES CHANSONS DES RUES ET DES BOIS
LA VOIX DE GUERNESEY
L’ART D’ETRE GRAND-PERE
LA LÉGENDE DES SIÈCLES: NOUVELLE SERIE
LA PITIE SUPREME
RELIGIONS ET RELIGION
LES QUATRE VENTS DE L’ESPRIT
LA LÉGENDE DES SIÈCLES: DERNIERE SERIE
LA FIN DE SATAN
TOUTE LA LYRE
LES ANNÉES FUNESTES
The Plays (in French)
NAPOLEON THE LITTLE
EXTRACTS FROM HUGO’S ESSAY ON SHAKESPEARE
LETTER TO THE LONDON NEWS REGARDING JOHN BROWN
ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
EXTRACTS FROM SATIRISTS AND MORALISTS
THE HISTORY OF A CRIME
VICTOR HUGO BY JOHN COWPER POWYS
LETTER ON HUGO BY CHARLES DICKENS
VICTOR HUGO’S LAST NOVEL BY HENRY JAMES
THE LEGEND OF VICTOR HUGO BY PAUL LAFARGUE
VICTOR HUGO’S ROMANCES BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
TO VICTOR HUGO BY ALFRED TENNYSON
THE MEMOIRS OF VICTOR HUGO
VICTOR HUGO: HIS LIFE AND WORK BY G. BARNETT SMITH
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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.
Victor Hugo was born in Besançon, France in 1802. In 1822 he published his first collection of poetry and in the same year, he married his childhood friend, Adèle Foucher. In 1831 he published his most famous youthful novel, Notre-Dame de Paris. A royalist and conservative as a young man, Hugo later became a committed social democrat and was exiled from France as a result of his political activities. In 1862, he wrote his longest and greatest novel, The Wretched (Les Misérables). After his death in 1885, his body lay in state under the Arc de Triomphe before being buried in the Panthéon.
Christine Donougher is a freelance translator and editor. She has translated numerous books from French and Italian, and won the 1992 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for her translation of Sylvie Germain's The Book of Nights.
Robert Tombs is Professor of History at St John's College, Cambridge. His most recent book is That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, co-written with Isabelle Tombs.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
This Xist Classics edition has been professionally formatted for e-readers with a linked table of contents. This ebook also contains a bonus book club leadership guide and discussion questions. We hope you’ll share this book with your friends, neighbors and colleagues and can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it.
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Loaded with intrigue and suspense! The incredible love story of the man whose face has been disfigured into a laughing mask in childhood, the loyal blind girl who gives him her heart, and the cruelty of the privileged aristocracy whose laughingstock and savior he becomes, is remarkable in its emotional impact. Hugo wrote The Man Who Laughs over a period of fifteen months while he was living in the Channel Islands, having been exiled from his native France because of the controversial political content of his previous novels. Beautifully illustrated, this classic captures the imagination of readers of all ages and inspires a love of literature and reading.
Published in 1862, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is remarkable for its clarity and detailed descriptions of the 1832 rebellion. Enormously popular upon publication, Les Misérables has been adapted for the stage and film, including the forthcoming movie starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway (2012). This special edition of Les Misérables also contains a review from the July 1862 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.
HarperPerennial Classics brings great works of literature to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the HarperPerennial Classics collection to build your digital library.
From Victor Hugo's flamboyant imagination came Quasimodo, the grotesque bell ringer; La Esmeralda, the sensuous gypsy dancer; and the haunted archdeacon Claude Frollo. Hugo set his epic tale in the Paris of 1482 under Louis XI and meticulously re-created the
day-to-day life of its highest and lowest inhabitants. Written at a time of perennial political upheaval in France, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is the product of an emerging democratic sensibility and prefigures the teeming masterpiece Les Misérables, which Hugo would write thirty years later.
He made the cathedral the centerpiece of the novel and called it Notre-Dame de Paris. (It received its popular English title at the time of its second translation in 1833.) Hugo wrote that his inspiration came from a carving of the word "fatality" in Greek that he had found in the cathedral. The inscription had been eradicated by the time the book was published, and Hugo feared that Notre-Dame's Gothic splendor might soon be lost to the contemporary fad for tearing down old buildings. Notre-Dame has survived as one of the great monuments of Paris, and Hugo's novel is a fitting celebration of it, a popular classic that is proving to be just as enduring.
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foun-dation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hard-bound editions of important works of liter-ature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inau-gurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.
Jacket paintings: (front) detail from Notre Dame by Paul Lecomte, courtesy of David David Gallery/SuperStock; (spine) Victor Hugo, 1833, by Louis Boulanger of Giraudon/Art Resource, N.Y.
"What a beautiful thing Notre-Dame is!" declared Gustave Flaubert of Victor Hugo's 1837 novel. Originally published as Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris), it was conceived as a story of the cathedral itself, which functioned as the passionate heart of fifteenth-century city life. But Hugo's human drama rivals the Gothic masterpiece for dominance. Drawn with humor and compassion, his characters endure, both in literary history and in readers' imaginations: Frollo, the sinister archdeacon; Quasimodo, the hideous hunchback; and the enchanting outcast, Esmeralda.
Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.
Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.
Translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman Macafee, based on the classic nineteenth-century Charles E. Wilbour translation
Inlcudes an Introduction by Lee Fahnestock
and an Afterword by Chris Bohjalian
All Coterie Classics have been formatted for ereaders and devices and include a bonus link to the free audio book.
“To love another person is to see the face of God.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Les Miserables is a magnificent novel by Victor Hugo exploring themes of love, loss and redemption in Paris during the uprising of 1832.
MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST
The perennially bestselling, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly) memoir from one of the world’s most gifted storytellers.
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin
From the Paperback edition.
What Remains is a vivid and haunting memoir about a girl from a working-class town who becomes an award-winning television producer and marries a prince, Anthony Radziwill. Carole grew up in a small suburb with a large, eccentric cast of characters. At nineteen, she struck out for New York City to find a different life. Her career at ABC News led her to the refugee camps of Cambodia, to a bunker in Tel Aviv, and to the scene of the Menendez murders. Her marriage led her into the old world of European nobility and the newer world of American aristocracy.
What Remains begins with loss and returns to loss. A small plane plunges into the ocean carrying John F. Kennedy Jr., Anthony’s cousin, and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Carole’s closest friend. Three weeks later Anthony dies of cancer. With unflinching honesty and a journalist’s keen eye, Carole Radziwill explores the enduring ties of family, the complexities of marriage, the importance of friendship, and the challenges of self-invention. Beautifully written, What Remains “gets at the essence of what matters,” wrote Oprah Winfrey. “Friendship, compassion, destiny.”
Now Echols shares his story in full—from abuse by prison guards and wardens, to portraits of fellow inmates and deplorable living conditions, to the incredible reserves of patience, spirituality, and perseverance that kept him alive and sane while incarcerated for nearly two decades.
In these pages, Echols reveals himself a brilliant writer, infusing his narrative with tragedy and irony in equal measure: he describes the terrors he experienced every day and his outrage toward the American justice system, and offers a firsthand account of living on Death Row in heartbreaking, agonizing detail. Life After Death is destined to be a riveting, explosive classic of prison literature.
The father figure is Leonard, the high-living, recovering coke addict "West Coast Director of a large Italian-American finance firm" (read: mobster) who helped to keep James Frey clean in A Million Little Pieces. The son is, of course, James, damaged perhaps beyond repair by years of crack and alcohol addiction-and by more than a few cruel tricks of fate.
James embarks on his post-rehab existence in Chicago emotionally devastated, broke, and afraid to get close to other people. But then Leonard comes back into his life, and everything changes. Leonard offers his "son" lucrative—if illegal and slightly dangerous—employment. He teaches James to enjoy life, sober, for the first time. He instructs him in the art of "living boldly," pushes him to pursue his passion for writing, and provides a watchful and supportive veil of protection under which James can get his life together. Both Leonard's and James's careers flourish…but then Leonard vanishes. When the reasons behind his mysterious absence are revealed, the book opens up in unexpected emotional ways.
My Friend Leonard showcases a brilliant and energetic young writer rising to important new challenges—displaying surprising warmth, humor, and maturity—without losing his intensity. This book proves that one of the most provocative literary voices of his generation is also one of the most emphatically human.
Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this “compelling . . . unvarnished, resonant” (BookPage) story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother. When their mother at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.
Funny, heartbreaking, and lyrical, The Distance Between Us poignantly captures the confusion and contradictions of childhood, reminding us that the joys and sorrows we experience are imprinted on the heart forever, calling out to us of those places we first called home.
Also available in Spanish as La distancia entre nosotros.
After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille the aging Dr Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There, two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil lanes of London, they are all drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror and soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.
The book is perhaps best known for its opening lines, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," and for Carton's last speech, in which he says of his replacing Darnay in a prison cell, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
Publisher : General Press
Waris was born into a traditional Somali family, desert nomads who engaged in such ancient and antiquated customs as genital mutilation and arranged marriage. At twelve, she fled an arranged marriage to an old man and traveled alone across the dangerous Somali desert to Mogadishu -- the first leg of an emotional journey that would take her to London as a house servant, around the world as a fashion model, and eventually to America, where she would find peace in motherhood and humanitarian work for the U.N.
Today, as Special Ambassador for the U.N., she travels the world speaking out against the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, promoting women's reproductive rights, and educating people about the Africa she fled -- but still deeply loves.
Desert Flower will be published simultaneously in eleven languages throughout the world and is currently being produced as a feature film by Rocket Pictures UK.
Mason draws on a century of Rimbaud scholarship to choreograph a superbly clear-eyed presentation of the poet’s works. He arranges Rimbaud’s writing chronologically, based on the latest manuscript evidence, so readers can experience the famously teenaged poet’s rapid evolution, from the lyricism of “Sensation” to the groundbreaking early modernism of A Season in Hell.
In fifty pages of previously untranslated material, including award-winning early verses, all the fragmentary poems, a fascinating early draft of A Season in Hell, a school notebook, and multiple manuscript versions of the important poem “O saisons, ô chateaux,” Rimbaud Complete displays facets of the poet unknown to American readers. And in his Introduction, Mason revisits the Rimbaud myth, addresses the state of disarray in which the poet left his work, and illuminates the intricacies of the translator’s art.
Mason has harnessed the precision and power of the poet’s rapidly changing voice: from the delicate music of a poem such as “Crows” to the mature dissonance of the Illuminations, Rimbaud Complete unveils this essential poet for a new generation of readers.
Tom Robbins’ warm, wise, and wonderfully weird novels—including Still Life With Woodpecker, Jitterbug Perfume, and Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates—provide an entryway into the frontier of his singular imagination. Madcap but sincere, pulsating with strong social and philosophical undercurrents, his irreverent classics have introduced countless readers to natural born hitchhiking cowgirls, born-again monkeys, a philosophizing can of beans, exiled royalty, and problematic redheads.
In Tibetan Peach Pie, Robbins turns that unparalleled literary sensibility inward, stitching together stories of his unconventional life, from his Appalachian childhood to his globetrotting adventures —told in his unique voice that combines the sweet and sly, the spiritual and earthy. The grandchild of Baptist preachers, Robbins would become over the course of half a century a poet-interruptus, an air force weatherman, a radio dj, an art-critic-turned-psychedelic-journeyman, a world-famous novelist, and a counter-culture hero, leading a life as unlikely, magical, and bizarre as those of his quixotic characters.
Robbins offers intimate snapshots of Appalachia during the Great Depression, the West Coast during the Sixties psychedelic revolution, international roving before homeland security monitored our travels, and New York publishing when it still relied on trees. Written with the big-hearted comedy and mesmerizing linguistic invention for which he is known, Tibetan Peach Pie is an invitation into the private world of a literary legend.
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.
Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.
One of Hari's earliest memories is of trying to wake up one of his relatives and not being able to. He didn't understand why then, but as he got older, he realised he had addiction in his family. He wanted to understand what really causes addiction – and how to find our way back from it. So he set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand mile journey into the war on drugs and addiction. He discovered that nothing on this subject is what we have been told it is – and the solutions are there, waiting for us, if only we are ready to see them.
The illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman, Dido Belle was sent to live with her great-uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, one of the most powerful men of the time and a leading opponent of slavery. Growing up in his lavish estate, Dido was raised as a sister and companion to her white cousin, Elizabeth. When a joint portrait of the girls, commissioned by Mansfield, was unveiled, eighteenth-century England was shocked to see a black woman and white woman depicted as equals. Inspired by the painting, Belle vividly brings to life this extraordinary woman caught between two worlds, and illuminates the great civil rights question of her age: the fight to end slavery.
Belle includes 20 pages of black-and-white photos.