The definitive biography of the world’s most popular novel
Les Misérables is among the most popular and enduring novels ever written. Like Inspector Javert’s dogged pursuit of Jean Valjean, its appeal has never waned, but only grown broader in its one-hundred-and-fifty-year life. Whether we encounter Victor Hugo’s story on the page, onstage, or on-screen, Les Misérables continues to captivate while also, perhaps unexpectedly, speaking to contemporary concerns. In The Novel of the Century, the acclaimed scholar and translator David Bellos tells us why.
This enchanting biography of a classic of world literature is written for “Les Mis” fanatics and novices alike. Casting decades of scholarship into accessible narrative form, Bellos brings to life the extraordinary story of how Victor Hugo managed to write his novel of the downtrodden despite a revolution, a coup d’état, and political exile; how he pulled off a pathbreaking deal to get it published; and how his approach to the “social question” would define his era’s moral imagination. More than an ode to Hugo’s masterpiece, The Novel of the Century also shows that what Les Misérables has to say about poverty, history, and revolution is full of meaning today.