Les Miserables

Les Miserables is a French novel with translations written by Victor Hugo. It was one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. It was published and made available to the market for the first time in the year 1862. It gained a lot of popularity and sold a lot especially after its first publication was greatly advertised across France. To the English-speaking people, the novel is still referred to with the name Les Miserables, which is its original title. The novel has however been published in other languages, English being one of them. It has thus got other titles by which it is referred with. The titles include The Miserable Ones, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Miserable, The Dispossessed, The Wretched Poor and The Victims. The central theme of the novel is about the History of France. It is vividly displayed by the use of various characters. The novel also elaborates the grace and law of France. The geography and technology in France are also featured in the novel especially when the narrator talks about the urban Paris and its architecture. The culture of the France people is also portrayed through their politics, religion, families set up, justice and moral philosophy.

The Narrator

The writer succeeds keeping the name of the narrator unknown to the reader. This is a plus as the reader has to think of the narrator and is forced to identify with Hugo, the writer of the novel. Since the novel is historical, the narrator pops in at times and gives facts that are not at the present time. The narrator emphasizes the history of France by telling of the historical events that are not fiction. At one point, the narrator narrates of an incident of the shootings that took place in the streets of Paris. This is during the youth of Hugo. In the novel, we see a lot of digressions as the novel has about a quarter of it in essays that talk about Hugo and his overwhelming knowledge. The novel is well arranged and uses major and minor characters.

Contemporary Reception

After it had been announced in 1960 that there was going to be a publication, many people anticipated it. It was advertised and when it was published in 1962, may people were ready to buy the novel. It received a quite diverse criticism with the negative critics outdoing the positive ones. Hugo took the trouble of popularizing the novel through various forms like stage shows, television, film and musical productions. After different translations, the novel sold well and was a leading novel commercially in the 19th century.