Books

Waterloo

Victor Hugo

'Brave Frenchmen, will you not surrender?'
Cambronne answered, 'Merde!'

A tense, dramatic account of the Battle of Waterloo - and how a rain shower changed history - from Victor Hugo's epic novel Les Misérables.

One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics' huge range and diversity, with works from around the world and across the centuries - including fables, decadence, heartbreak, tall tales, satire, ghosts, battles and elephants.

Les Misérables

Victor Hugo (and others)

A brilliant modern translation by Christine Donougher of Victor Hugo's thrilling masterpiece, with an introduction by Robert Tombs.

This is the best translation of the novel available in English, as recommended by David Bellos in The Novel of the Century.

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.

'A magnificent achievement. It reads easily, sometimes racily, and Hugo's narrative power is never let down ... An almost flawless translation, which brings the full flavour of one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century to new readers in the twenty-first' - William Doyle, Times Literary Supplement

'The year's most interesting publication from Penguin Classics was [...] a new translation by Christine Donougher of the novel we all know as Les Misérables. You may think that 1,300 pages is a huge investment of time when the story is so familiar, but no adaptation can convey the addictive pleasure afforded by Victor Hugo's narrative voice: by turns chatty, crotchety, buoyant and savagely ironical, it's made to seem so contemporary and fresh in Donougher's rendering that the book has all the resonance of the most topical state-of-the-nation novel' - Telegraph

'Christine Donougher's seamless and very modern translation of Les Misérables has an astonishing effect in that it reminds readers that Hugo was going further than any Dickensian lament about social conditions [...]The Wretched touches the soul' - Herald Scotland

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo (and others)

Joss Ackland, Roger Allam and Leslie Phillips star in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel.

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.

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Victor Hugo

Hugo's grand medieval melodrama tells the story of the beautiful Esmeralda, a gypsy girl loved by three men: Archdeacon Frollo, his adoptive son Quasimodo, bell-ringer of Notre-Dame cathedral, and Captain Phoebus. Falsely accused of trying to murder Phoebus, who attempts to rape her, Esmeralda is sentenced to death and rescued from the gallows by Quasimodo who defends her to the last.
The subject of many adaptations for stage and screen, this remains perhaps one of the most romantic yet gripping stories ever told.

Stop What You’re Doing and Read…Epic Page-turners: The Count of Monte Cristo & Les Miserables

Alexandre Dumas (and others)

To mark the publication of Stop What You're Doing and Read This!, a collection of essays celebrating reading, Vintage Classics are releasing 12 limited edition themed ebook 'bundles', to tempt readers to discover and rediscover great books.

THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, Edmond Dantès spends fourteen bitter years in a dungeon. When his daring escape plan works he uses all he has learnt during his incarceration to mastermind an elaborate plan of revenge that will bring punishment to those he holds responsible for his fate. No longer the naïve sailor who disappeared into the dark fortress all those years ago, he reinvents himself as the charming, mysterious and powerful Count of Monte Cristo...

LES MISERABLES
Sensational, dramatic, packed with rich excitement and filled with the sweep and violence of human passions, Les Misérables is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told. It is a novel peopled by colourful characters from the nineteenth-century Parisian underworld; the street children, the prostitutes and the criminals. In telling the story of escaped convict Jean Valjean, and his efforts to reform his ways and care for the little orphan girl he rescues from a life of cruelty, Victor Hugo drew attention to the plight of the poor and oppressed. Les Miserables is a masterful detective story, a comic and tragic story of romance and revolution and, ultimately, a tale of redemption and hope.

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo (and others)

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ADAM THIRLWELL

Sensational, dramatic, packed with rich excitement and filled with the sweep and violence of human passions, Les Misérables is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told. It is a novel peopled by colourful characters from the nineteenth-century Parisian underworld; the street children, the prostitutes and the criminals. In telling the story of escaped convict Jean Valjean, and his efforts to reform his ways and care for the little orphan girl he rescues from a life of cruelty, Victor Hugo drew attention to the plight of the poor and oppressed. Les Miserables is a masterful detective story, a comic and tragic story of romance and revolution and, ultimately, a tale of redemption and hope.

Notre-Dame de Paris

Victor Hugo

In the vaulted Gothic towers of Notre-Dame lives Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bellringer. Mocked and shunned for his appearance, he is pitied only by Esmerelda, a beautiful gypsy dancer to whom he becomes completely devoted. Esmerelda, however, has also attracted the attention of the sinister archdeacon Claude Frollo, and when she rejects his lecherous approaches, Frollo hatches a plot to destoy her that only Quasimodo can prevent. Victor Hugo's sensational, evocative novel brings life to the medieval Paris he loved, and mourns its passing in one of the greatest historical romances of the nineteenth century.

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo

Tolstoy is said to have called Les Miserables the greatest novel ever written, and it exerted a powerful influence on the creation of War and Peace. At one level a detective story in which the relentless Inspector Javert obsessively pursues the escaped convict Jean Valjean, culminating in a dramatic chase through the sewers of Paris, at another level Hugo's masterpiece is a drama of crime, punishment and rehabilitation set against a panoramic description of French society in the years after Napoleon's fall from power. But this book is also about the metaphysical struggle between good and evil in the soul of every man and every community. Coloured by Hugo's distinctive philosophy, it is a plea for social justice, political enlightenment and personal charity which continues to speak with the undiminished authority more than a century after its first appearance.

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo (and others)

Now a major musical film from Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech), starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, and also featuring Amanda Seyfreid, Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron-Cohen, Victor Hugo's Les Misérables is one of the great works of western literature.

Now in a new translation from the French by Christine Donougher, Les Misérables is at once a thrilling narrative - part comedy, mystery, romance and tragedy - and a social document of France's turbulent revolutionary history.

Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), 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 Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine (Anne Hathaway), driven to prostitution by poverty.

Victor Hugo (1802-85) wrote volumes of criticism, Romantic costume dramas, satirical verse and political journalism but is best remembered for his novels, especially Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), also known as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Misérables (1862) which was adapted into one of the most successful musicals of all time.

'All human life is here'
Cameron Mackintosh, producer of the musical Les Misérables

'One of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world'
Upton Sinclair

'A great writer - inventive, witty, sly, innovatory'
A. S. Byatt, author of Possession

Biography

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, Les Misérables. After his death in 1885, his body lay in state under the Arc de Triomphe before being buried in the Panthéon.