Reading Les Miz!

A Les Miserables readalong community.

A Les Miserables readalong community
Posting Access:
All Members , Moderated

One day, on a whim, vana_tuivana and digdigil decided to read Victor Hugo's 1862 novel Les Misérables. The idea expanded from there, and reading_lesmiz was born.

This community exists as a home for discussion, questions, and analysis of the book as we read it. If you're interested, we invite you to pick up a copy, join the group, and read and discuss along with us!

We began the reading on Monday, September 25, 2006 and plan to end on Monday, December 18, 2006. We have biweekly discussions (posted Mondays and Thursdays) on the scheduled sections of the book: see the schedule below for the information.

Victor Hugo himself said it best:

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century--the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labor, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night--are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this.

Date of discussion
(linked to OP)
Discussion TopicsPages
Volume I: Fantine
Monday, Sept 25Book One: An Upright Man58
Thursday, Sept 28Book Two: The Fall55
Monday, Oct 2Book Three: The Year 1817
Book Four: To Trust is Sometimes To Surrender
Thursday, Oct 5Book Five: The Descent
Book Six: Javert
Monday, Oct 9Book Seven: The Champmatheiu Affair
Book Eight: Counter-Stroke
Thursday, Oct 12No OP; catch-up time
Volume II: Cosette
Monday, Oct 16Book One: Waterloo58
Thursday, Oct 19Book Two: The Ship Orion
Book Three: Fulfillment of the Promise Made to the Departed
Monday, Oct 23Book Four: The Old Gorbeau House
Book Five: A Dark Chase Requires a Silent Hound
Book Six: Petit-Picpus
Thursday, Oct 26Book Seven: A Parenthesis
Book Eight: Cemeteries Take What Is Given Them
Monday, Oct 30No OP; catch-up time
Volume III: Marius
Thursday, Nov 2Book One: Paris Atomized
Book Two: The Grand Bourgeois
Book Three: The Grandfather and the Grandson
Monday, Nov 6Book Four: The Friends of the ABC
Book Five: The Excellence of Misfortune
Book Six: The Conjunction of Two Stars
Thursday, Nov 9Book Seven: Patron-Minette
Book Eight: The Noxious Poor
Monday, Nov 13No OP; catch-up time
Volume IV: Saint-Denis
Thursday, Nov 16Book One: A Few Pages of History
Book Two: Eponine
Book Three: The House on the Rue Plumet
Monday, Nov 20Book Four: Aid from Below or from Above
Book Five: An End Unlike the Beginning
Book Six: Little Gavroche
Thursday, Nov 23Book Seven: Argot
Book Eight: Enchantments and Desolations
Book Nine: Where Are They Going?
Monday, Nov 27Book Ten: June 5, 1832
Book Eleven: The Atom Fraternizes with the Hurricane
Book Twelve: Corinth
Thursday, Nov 30Book Thirteen: Marius Enters the Shadow
Book Fourteen: The Grandeur of Despair
Book Fifteen: The Rue de l'Homme-Armé
Monday, Dec 4No OP; catch-up time
Volume V: Jean Valjean
Thursday, Dec 7Book One: War Between Four Walls87
Monday, Dec 11Book Two: The Intestine of the Leviathan
Book Three: Mire, But Soul
Book Four: Javert Off the Track
Thursday, Dec 14Book Five: Grandson and Grandfather
Book Six: The White Night
Monday, Dec 18Book Seven: The Last Drop in the Chalice
Book Eight: The Twilight Wane
Book Nine: Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn

Total number of sections: 21
Total pages read: 1428
Minimum pages/section: 39
Maximum pages/section: 103
Average pages/section: 68

**Page numbers are based on the Signet Classics paperback edition.**


Which version of Les Misérables should I read?
Well, that's the question, isn't it! One option is the unabridged Signet Classic edition, which is the most complete modern translation of the text. It's also the most readily available version at this time, and I highly recommend springing for this edition: for its hefty size, it's cheap on Amazon.com! There is a translation by Norman Denny (published by Penguin Books) which is called "unabridged", but has actually had some of the longer tangents excised. Another translation was done way back in 1862, the same year the book came out in French, by Charles E. Wilbour.

Then there are the abridged versions, of which there are many. We highly recommend you read one of the unabridged versions, in order to get the full experience of Victor Hugo in all his wordy and tangential glory. If you must go for an abridgement, though, the only thing we can say is don't read the Robinson one, which is the version vana_tuivana had the bad experience with over the summer. It was very sad. :-(

Oh, and if you don't have a paper version of Les Misérables, you can also download it for free from Project Gutenberg or read along online at The Literature Network or Litrix.

How long is the book, actually?
To compare numbers, the Signet Classics edition is 1488 pages; the Penguin Books edition is 1232 pages; the Charles E. Wilbour edition is 1472 pages. The abridged editions are shorter, naturally. By way of comparison, The Lord of the Rings in its combined form is 1216 pages. :-)

How long will it take us to finish?
We're planning on finishing the book in about ten weeks, reading two sections per week. This way, we should have plenty of time both for the reading and to discuss it with each other as we go.

What is the role of this community during the reading?
This community exists to perform whatever function we are all willing to put effort into making it. Basically, we're all here to support and help one another reach the greatest enjoyment and understanding of the novel.

What kind of posts are allowed and not allowed in this community?
We're interested in what you have to say about the text, so almost anything dealing with whatever we've read is allowed! The mods will be in charge of the Official Posts, which will include chapter summaries, interesting quotes, or other thoughts about the day's reading. You are welcome to make any additional posts you want, as long as it deals with material not covered in the Official Posts. If it's something that's covered in the day's reading, please post it as a comment to the OP. Things that might require their own posts would be character discussion and analysis, thoughts and ideas about the book in general, thoughts and information about the story as presented in other forms (musical or film), or other content that is relevant to our reading but does not fit into the material covered in the OP.

What we don't want to see here: fanfiction, fanart, memes, polls, or other things that generally don't fit into the scheme of our reading discussion. Also, please don't post any information that could be seen as "spoilers" for those who have not read the book or seen any other version of the story -- it's just common courtesy to not spoil the plot for your fellow readers. The mods reserve the right to delete or modify any post that we see as not fitting in with our guidelines.

What should I do if I have more questions?
Contact one of the maintainers: vana_tuivana or digdigil.

If you're just joining us, feel free to introduce yourself so that we can get to know the people we're going to be reading with! The following information might be nice to post:

Favorite authors:
Favorite books:
Have you read Les Miz (or seen the movies or musical, etc.)?
Do you have a favorite Mizzie character?
Anything else about yourself you'd like to share?

Or really, anything that you'd like to tell us. We're not picky. :-)

Information and Resources:

Fanfiction and Fansites:

LJ Communities: