Victor Hugo has a lot to answer for. His 1862 novel, Les Misérables, has been adapted for stage, screen, and radio, inspired music and art, and infiltrated popular culture with Susan Boyle, Sideshow Bob, Glee, and countless internet memes. Tom Hooper's recently-released film based on Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's musical has readers storming the barricades to check out this 19th century classic.
Les Misérables isn't just a good read - it's a magnificent read.
Readers can be intimidated by the historical breadth of Hugo's novel. Prisoner 2-4-6-0-1 doesn't appear immediately - you must be patient. This is a book for a cold, dark night, to be read by candlelight with a glass of Bordeaux. Hugo is a poet - his masterpiece on social injustice, love, and redemption is as beautiful as it is brutal.
Would the lovely Anne Hathaway be as ready for her close-up if she appeared the way Hugo dreamed the tragic Fantine - with her two front teeth knocked out?
Watch Les Misérables in Concert: the 25th Anniversary Live on DVD. Listen to the original 1985 London cast on CD with Colm Wilkinson, Patti LuPone and Roger Allam.
On the right: the elegant "Javert in 12 Panels by the artist, ~hun-tun.Further Reading:
The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys. Toronto's award-winning novelist imagines Victor Hugo and his wife, Adèle, in a love triangle.
Cosette: a Sequel by Laura Kalpakian. At least there are no zombies.
The Temptation of the Impossible: Victor Hugo and Les Misérables by Mario Vargas Llosa. Llosa, the 2010 Nobel Prize winner for literature, offers a passionate reading of Hugo's novel.
Victor Hugo: A Biography by Graham Robb
Related Posts: Red Carpet Reads
Hugo was no stranger to misery: his son Léopold died in infancy, his
daughter Léopoldine drowned, and his youngest daughter, Adèle suffered
from mental illness (the basis for François Truffaut's film, L'histoire d'Adèle H which is, sadly, unavailable at present).
Internet cats and Les Misérables? Mais bien sûr. Look down, look down . . .
The legendary Grumpy Cat.