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Les Misérables

Les Misérables program from Palace Theatre in London purchased for £3 in July 2003.

Les Misérables is an 1862 novel by Victor Hugo, set in the Parisian underworld. Many people know of it through the musical of the same name, which is one of the most successful musicals in history.

Table of contents
1 Plot
2 Adaptations
3 External link


Jean Valjean is sentenced to prison for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread in order to feed his starving sister and her child. After his release, Valjean plans to rob a bishop, but the clergyman's saintliness makes him change his mind. Unable to find an honest living as an ex-convict, he forfeits his parole by throwing away his letters of parole and changing his name, and for this crime Valjean is hunted by the police inspector Javert. Under his new name, Valjean becomes a successful businessman, benefactor and mayor of a small town. To save an innocent man, he gives himself up and is imprisoned. He escapes and adopts Cosette, the daughter of a poor woman who had worked in one of his factories. Cosette grows up and falls in love with the young revolutionary Marius, who is wounded during a battle. Valjean rescues Marius by means of a flight through the sewers of Paris, with Javert in hot pursuit. Cosette and Marius marry, and Valjean reveals his past.

Within the borders of this Romantic plot, the author Victor Hugo filled many pages with his thoughts on religion, politics, and society. It has been considered inspirational by many who felt oppressed since then.


The story has been filmed several times: It was made into a musical by the composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and the librettist Alain Boublil: see Les Misérables (musical).

In 2001, BBC Radio 4 produced a 25-part radio dramatisation, with a cast of 27 featuring Joss Ackland narrating, Roger Allam as Valjean, and David Schofield as Javert.

In May 2001, Francois Ceresa published Cosette, or the Time of Illusions, a sequel to Les Misérables. Victor Hugo's descendants attempted unsuccessfully to have the book banned, condemning it as a money-seeking enterprise and an attack on Hugo's work (more subjective offences aside, it is undeniable that Ceresa retconned a key scene in Hugo's novel to avoid the death of a character he wanted to use in his novel). [1]

External link