On June 30, 1862, the final chapter of Victor Hugo’s timeless classic Les Misérables was published. “Timeless classic” is an adage often tossed around, but in this case, it could not be more spot-on. Les Misérables remains as relevant as it was upon publication, and if you read it it will change you as a person. Yes, you will be irrevocably altered by exposure to Hugo’s epic, even if you hate it (lugging that much weight around makes it impossible to forget—there’s a reason that fans fondly refer to it as The Brick). But in all seriousness, Les Misérables is an important, upsetting, beautiful and moving read. It remains as Hugo’s most famous work—and Hugo had a prodigious output, including novels like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, poems, and plays now mostly forgotten—and it has carved a permanent place in popular culture. The book has never fallen out of style since its emergence (it was a sensational best-seller in its day, though somewhat coolly reviewed by snooty critics). The reviews didn’t matter: Les Misérables was written for the people and the people embraced it. Generations of readers have continued to find its central themes of redemption, love, oppression, and agitation against unjust governments relatable. The 1980’s musical adaptation by… Read full this story
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