38

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 habits and similarly austere lifestyles, and even share the same dreams. This is according to David Bellos's The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure ...


15

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 unsparing of his reader. He had to say everything and more than everything; he was incapable of leaving anything out. [...] One reason for [so many ...


14

By “the red ant heaps of Toulon”, Hugo means the Bagne de Toulon, a notorious prison where the convicts wore red jackets and red caps. This is the prison where Jean Valjean serves nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread, in Hugo’s Les Misérables. L’habillement du forçat qui est différent pour chaque bagne, se compose à Toulon, dit l’auteur, d’une ...


9

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 gave Cosette to the Thénardiers so they could care for her, and regularly sent money for her care. This is why she sells her hair — money for the ...


8

In Recomposing the Past: Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen, it's claimed that: The original title of Hugo's work was Notre Dame de Paris, making no mention of the disfigurement of Quasimodo, highlighting that the cathedral itself, rather than Quasimodo, was to be the central character. […] The shift in emphasis towards Quasimodo as a main ...


6

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 entirely to the discretion of the police. The latter do what they please, punish them, as seems good to them, and confiscate at their will those two sorry things ...


5

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 était intéressé à rester dans l'ombre, il se sentait fort; à la réponse nette et ferme de l'étranger, quand il vit que ce personnage mystérieux était ...


5

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 inspiration to Tolkien in creating Gollum and the theme of "how do you explain 'evil' in a world good God created." I was only looking from the point of view that there ...


5

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 it in full, in the 1887 translation of Isabel Hapgood: The author of this book, who regrets the necessity of mentioning himself, has been absent from Paris ...


5

I just figured out the answer to my own question. By the "Red ant heaps of Toulon", Hugo most likely means the Bagne of Toulon, the prison that is also prominently featured in "Les Misérables" as the place in which the protagonist Jean Valjean is imprisoned for many years. It was, by modern definition, more of a forced labor camp than a ...


4

The 1906 Clarendon Press edition of the French text of the novel, edited by Léon Delbos, is available at the Internet Archive and has comprehensive notes starting at page 353: Page 1. (Heading of chapter.) La Grand’Salle. The apostrophe was first used by French grammarians between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, under the mistaken idea that an e had ...


4

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 (which means big, great, tall in French) as grand, which in English has positive connotations that the word does not have in French. And they have left off the ...


3

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 pane of glass and taken a loaf of bread. Victor Hugo (1862). Les Misérables, book 2, chapter 6. Translated by Isabel Hapgood. In the prison he was referred to ...


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