Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was published in 1862 and is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, not to mention one of the longest ever written! It has been adapted for the stage as a Broadway musical, and now, as a new movie starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Russell Crowe.
The story is set in the years leading to the Paris rebellion of 1832 and follows the life of an ex-convict, Jean Valjean and his transformation, through years of struggle, into a good man. The novel takes place in a time of disease, famine, corruption, and extreme poverty and, as the title suggests;
the main characters are the miserable ones, the poor. Victor Hugo himself described his novel as: “a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life, from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God.” Whew! That’s a lot of ground to cover in one book—no wonder it’s so long!
There are several life lessons in this masterpiece, but I’ll just focus on four:
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