39 votes

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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 71.1k
21 votes

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 ...
muru's user avatar
  • 6,862
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 ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
7 votes

Why did Victor Hugo take several pages to say that his knowledge of Paris was woefully out of date?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 ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 53.5k
6 votes

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 ...
Yasskier's user avatar
  • 2,070
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 ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 1,013
6 votes

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

I have a different opinion on this; These tangents are not random at all. They've all contributed to the content of the story in their own way. In fact, I believe that these tangents are one of the ...
ali varaste pour's user avatar
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 ...
Techer's user avatar
  • 59
5 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 (...
Peter Shor's user avatar
  • 11.7k
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 ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 53.5k
1 vote

When was young Cosette's bedtime?

"Bedtime" might mean the time to begin getting ready for bed -- although in modern English it seems to refer to "lights out". "Lights out" is the underlying answer. ...
Ray Butterworth's user avatar

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