39 votes
Accepted

Was there a reason Victor Hugo chose 24601 as the number for Jean Valjean?

Yes: it corresponds to the date of Hugo's conception. This is part of a pattern of similarities between the character of Jean Valjean and the author himself: both are of similar age, have similar ...
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  • 63.7k
15 votes
Accepted

Why all those tangents in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables?

Norman Denny has this to say in the introduction to his translation of Les Misérables: Hugo [...] had little or no regard for the discipline of novel-writing. He was wholly unrestrained and ...
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  • 6,644
9 votes

Was there a deliberate parallel between the Thénardiers and Gollum?

I think you're reading too much into it. Gollum has the One Ring because the One Ring "wants to be found." It was at the bottom of a lake for a long time and wanted to get back to Sauron. Fantine ...
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6 votes
Accepted

In Les Miserables, why can Javert be the judge of Fantine and why does Monsieur Madeleine have the power to stop him?

If you are asking about the historical reasons, then asking in History.SE might be better. From the literature point of view the answer lies in text: This class of women is consigned by our laws ...
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  • 1,915
6 votes

Who does “he” refer to in this passage from Les Miserables?

In the original French (Tome 2 "Cosette", Livre 3, Chapitre IX), it reads: Quoi qu'il en fût, en entamant la conversation avec l'homme, sûr qu'il y avait un secret dans tout cela, sûr que l'homme ...
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  • 958
6 votes
Accepted

Why did Victor Hugo take several pages to say that his knowledge of Paris was woefully out of date?

TL;DR: If you don’t like Hugo’s prose, why are you reading Les Misérables?! The lengthy disclaimer is just one paragraph long, a drop in the ocean of this novel, so I will take the liberty of quoting ...
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  • 40.1k
5 votes

Was there a deliberate parallel between the Thénardiers and Gollum?

Absolutely agree with #3! I just finished Les Mis (took me like 6 months!) and had the exact same impression about Thenardier/Gollum parallel. To me it seems likely that Thenardier was an ...
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  • 59
4 votes

Why did Victor Hugo write that "the interior of the soul" is "grander than the sky"?

If you look at the totality of Hugo's quotation in French, it clearly encompasses evil-doers. This is a misleading translation of a sentence taken out of context. They have translated the word grand (...
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  • 7,900
3 votes

What did the convict mean by “I’m a number: number 15,729” in "The Bishop's Candlesticks"?

In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean spent nineteen years in the Bagne de Toulon, a notorious prison. Nineteen years. In October, 1815, he was released; he had entered there in 1796, for having broken a ...
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