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Les Misérables  
Portrait of "Cosette" by Emile Bayard, from the original edition of Les Misérables (1862)
Author Victor Hugo
Country France
Language French
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven & Ce.
Publication date 1862

Les Misérables (literally "The Miserable Ones"; usually pronounced /leɪ ˌmɪzəˈrɑːb/; French pronunciation: [le mizeʁabl(ə)]), translated variously from the French as The Miserable Ones, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims, is an 1862 novel by French author Victor Hugo and is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. It follows the lives and interactions of several French characters over a twenty-year period in the early 19th century, starting in 1815, the year of Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo.

The novel focuses on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption. It examines the nature of law and grace, and expounds upon the history of France, architecture of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love. The story is historical fiction because it contains factual, historic events, including the Paris Uprising of 1832 (not to be confused with the much earlier French Revolution).

Les Misérables is known to many through its numerous stage and screen adaptations, such as the stage musical of the same name, sometimes abbreviated "Les Mis" (pronounced /leɪ ˈmɪz/).


Novel form

Les Misérables contains many plots, but the main thread is the story of ex-convict, Jean Valjean (known by his prison number, 24601), who becomes a force for good in the world, but cannot escape his dark past. The novel is divided into five volumes, each volume divided into books, and subdivided into chapters (for a total of 365 chapters). Each chapter is relatively short, usually no longer than a few pages. Nevertheless, the book as a whole is quite lengthy by common standards, often exceeding 1,200 pages in unabridged editions (1900 pages in French). Within the borders of the novel's story, Hugo fills many pages with his thoughts on religion, politics, and society, including his three lengthy digressions, one being a discussion on enclosed religious orders, another being on argot, and most famously, his epic retelling of the Battle of Waterloo.


Volume I – Fantine

The story starts in 1815, in Digne. The peasant Jean Valjean has just been released from imprisonment in the Bagne of Toulon after nineteen years: five for stealing bread for his starving sister and his family, and fourteen more for numerous escape attempts. Upon being released, he is required to carry a yellow passport that marks him as a convict, despite having already paid his debt to society by serving his time in jail. Rejected by innkeepers, who do not want to take in a convict, Valjean sleeps on the street. This makes him even angrier and bitter. However, the benevolent Bishop Myriel, the Bishop of Digne, takes him in and gives him shelter. In the middle of the night, he steals the bishop’s silverware and runs. He is caught, but the bishop rescues him by claiming that the silverware was a gift and at that point gives him his two silver candlesticks as well, chastising him to the police for leaving in such a rush that he forgot these most valuable pieces. The bishop then "reminds" him of the promise, which Valjean has no recollection of making, to use the silver to make an honest man of himself. As Valjean broods over these words, he steals a child's silver coin purely out of habit. He chases the boy away (Petit Gervais) but soon after, he repents and decides to follow the bishop's advice. He searches the city for the child whose money he accidentally stole. At the same time, his theft is reported to the authorities, who now look for him as a repeat offender. If Valjean is caught, he will be forced to spend the rest of his life in prison, so he hides from the police.

Six years pass and Valjean, having assumed the pseudonym Monsieur Madeleine to avoid capture, has become a wealthy factory owner and is appointed mayor of his adopted town of Montreuil-sur-Mer. While walking down the street one day, he sees a man named Fauchelevent pinned down under his cart, caught by the wheels. When no one volunteers to lift the cart, he decides to rescue Fauchelevent himself. He crawls underneath the cart and manages to lift it, freeing him. The town's police inspector Javert, who was an adjutant guard at the Bagne of Toulon during Valjean's imprisonment, becomes suspicious of the mayor after witnessing his heroics. He knows the ex-convict Jean Valjean is also capable of such strength.

Sometime later, Valjean meets Fantine. Years earlier in Paris, she was very much in love with a man named Félix Tholomyès, who also fathered their daughter Cosette. His friends Listolier, Fameuil and Blachevelle were also paired with Fantine’s friends Dahlia, Zéphine and Favourite. They later abandon the women as a joke, leaving Fantine to care for Cosette by herself. When Fantine arrives at Montfermeil, she leaves Cosette to live with the Thénardiers, a corrupt innkeeper and his selfish, cruel wife. Fantine is unaware that they abuse her daughter and use her as forced labor for their inn, and continues to try to pay their growing, extortionate demands for her upkeep. She is later fired from her job at his factory due to the discovery of her illegitimate daughter and had been forced to resort to prostitution to pay for her daughter's board and expenses. Fantine is also slowly dying from an unnamed disease (probably tuberculosis). While roaming the streets, a dandy named Bamatabois harasses Fantine and puts snow down her back. She retaliates by attacking him. Javert sees this and arrests Fantine. She begs to be let go so she can provide for her daughter, but nonetheless Javert sentences her to six months in prison. Valjean then intervenes and orders Javert to release her. Javert strongly refuses but Valjean still persists and orders him dismissed. Valjean, seeing in Fantine similarities to his former life of hardship and pain, promises her that he will bring Cosette to her. He takes her to a hospital.

Later, Javert comes to see Valjean again. Javert admits he had accused him of being Jean Valjean to the Parisian authorities after Fantine was freed. However, he tells Valjean that he no longer suspects him because the authorities have announced that another man has been identified as the real Jean Valjean after being arrested and having noticeable similarities. This man's name is Champmathieu. He is not guilty, but is mistaken. His trial is set the next day. At first, Valjean is torn whether to reveal himself, but decides to do so to save the innocent man. He goes to the trial and reveals his true identity. He then returns to Montreuil-sur-Mer to see Fantine, followed by Javert, who confronts him. After grabbing Valjean, Javert reveals Valjean’s true identity to Fantine. Shocked, and with the severity of her illness, she falls back in her bed and dies. Valjean goes to Fantine, speaks to her in an inaudible whisper and kisses her hand. He then leaves with Javert.

Volume II – Cosette

Valjean manages to escape, only to be recaptured and sentenced to death. This was commuted by the king to penal servitude for life. While being sent to the prison at Toulon, a military port, Valjean saves a sailor about to fall from the ship's rigging. The crowd begins to call, "This man must be pardoned!" but Valjean fakes a slip and falls into the ocean to escape, relying on the belief that he has drowned.

Valjean arrives at Montfermeil on Christmas Eve. He finds Cosette fetching water in the woods alone and walks with her to the inn. After ordering a meal, he observes the Thénardiers’ abusive treatment of her. He also witnesses their pampered daughters Éponine and Azelma treating Cosette badly as well when they tell on her to their mother for holding their abandoned doll. Upon seeing this, Valjean goes out and returns a moment later holding an expensive new doll. He offers it to Cosette. At first she is unable to contemplate that the doll really is for her, but then happily takes it. This results in Mme. Thénardier becoming furious at Valjean, while M. Thénardier dismisses it, informing her that he can do as he wishes as long as he pays them. It also causes Éponine and Azelma to become envious of Cosette.

The next morning on Christmas Day, Valjean pays off the Thénardiers to obtain Cosette, and flees with her to Paris. Later, Javert finds Valjean’s new lodgings at Gorbeau House.

Valjean takes Cosette and they try to escape from Javert. They soon successfully find shelter in the Petit-Picpus convent with the help of Fauchelevent, the man whom Valjean rescued and who is a gardener for the convent. Valjean also becomes a gardener and Cosette becomes a student.

Volume III – Marius

Eight years later, the Friends of the ABC, led by Enjolras, are preparing an anti-Orléanist revolution on the eve of the Paris uprising on June 5–6, 1832, following the death of General Lamarque, the only French leader who had sympathy towards the working class. They are also joined by the poor, including the Thénardiers' eldest son Gavroche, who is a street urchin.

One of the students, Marius Pontmercy, has become alienated from his family (especially his grandfather M. Gillenormand) because of his liberal views. After the death of his father Colonel Georges Pontmercy, Marius discovers a note from him instructing his son to provide help to a sergeant named Thénardier who saved Pontmercy's life at Waterloo -- in reality M. Thénardier was looting corpses and only saved Pontmercy's life by accident; he had called himself a sergeant under Napoleon to avoid exposing himself as a robber. At the Luxembourg Gardens, Marius falls in love with the now grown and beautiful Cosette. The Thénardiers have also moved to Paris and now live in poverty after losing their inn. They live under the surname "Jondrette" at Gorbeau House (coincidentally, the same building Valjean and Cosette briefly lived in after leaving the Thénardiers' inn.) Marius lives there as well, next door to the Thénardiers.

Éponine, now ragged and emaciated, visits Marius at his apartment to beg for money. To impress him, she tries to prove her literacy by reading aloud from a book and by writing "The Cops Are Here" on a sheet of paper. Marius pities her and gives her some money. After Éponine leaves, Marius observes the "Jondrettes" in their apartment through a crack in the wall. A philanthropist and his daughter visit them—actually Valjean and Cosette. Marius immediately recognizes Cosette. After they leave, Marius asks Éponine to retrieve her address for him. Éponine, who is in love with Marius herself, reluctantly agrees to do so. The Thénardiers have also recognized Valjean and Cosette, and vow their revenge. M. Thénardier enlists the aid of the Patron-Minette, a well-known and very feared gang of murderers and robbers.

Marius overhears M. Thénardier's plan and goes to Javert to report the crime. He then goes back home and waits for Javert and the police to arrive. When Valjean returns with rent money, M. Thénardier, with Patron-Minette, ambushes him and he reveals his true identity to Valjean. Marius recognizes M. Thénardier as the man who "saved" his father's life at Waterloo and is caught in a dilemma. He tries to find a way to save Valjean while not betraying M. Thénardier. He sees the scrap of paper that Éponine earlier wrote on and throws it into the Thénardiers’ apartment through the crack. M. Thénardier reads it and thinks Éponine threw it inside. He, Mme. Thénardier and Patron-Minette try to escape, only to be stopped by Javert. He arrests all the Thénardiers and Patron-Minette (except Claquesous, who escapes during his transportation to prison, Montparnasse, who stops to run off with Éponine instead of joining in on the robbery, and Gavroche, who was not present and does not participate in his family's crimes). Valjean manages to escape the scene before Javert sees him.

Volume IV – St. Denis

After Éponine’s release from prison, she finds Marius and sadly tells him that she found Cosette’s address. She leads him to Valjean and Cosette's house at Rue Plumet, and Marius watches the house for a few days. He and Cosette then finally meet and declare their love for one another. M. Thénardier, Patron-Minette and Brujon manage to escape from prison with the aid of Gavroche. One night, during one of Marius’ visits with Cosette, the six men attempt to raid Valjean and Cosette's house. However, Éponine, who was sitting by the gates of the house, threatens to scream and awaken the whole neighborhood if the thieves do not leave. Hearing this, they reluctantly retire. Meanwhile, Cosette informs Marius that she and Valjean will be leaving for England in a week’s time, which greatly troubles the pair.

The next day, Valjean is sitting in the Champ de Mars. He is feeling troubled due to seeing M. Thénardier in the neighborhood several times. Unexpectedly, a note lands in his lap, which says "MOVE OUT." He sees a figure running away in the dim light. He goes back to his house tells Cosette they will be staying at their other house at Rue de l'Homme Arme and reconfirms with her about moving to England. Marius tries to get permission from M. Gillenormand to marry Cosette. His grandfather seems stern and angry, but has been longing for Marius' return. When tempers flare, he refuses, telling Marius to make Cosette his mistress instead. Insulted, Marius leaves. The following day, the students revolt and erect barricades in the narrow streets of Paris. Gavroche spots Javert and informs Enjolras that Javert is a spy. When Enjolras confronts him of this, he admits his identity and his orders to spy on the students. Enjolras and the other students tie him up to a pole in the Corinth restaurant. Later that evening, Marius goes back to Valjean and Cosette’s house at Rue Plumet, but finds the house no longer occupied. He then hears a voice telling him that his friends are waiting for him at the barricade. Distraught over Cosette gone, he heeds the voice and goes.

While Marius fights at the barricade, a soldier makes it in and aims at Marius. However, a man steps between them and puts his hand and body in front of the musket. The soldier fires, fatally shooting the man. The man then calls Marius by his name. Marius, and the reader, discover that it is actually Éponine, dressed in men's clothes. Dying, she confesses that it was she who told him to go to the barricade, in hoping that the two would die together. The author also states to the reader that it was also Éponine who anonymously threw the note to Valjean. Éponine gives Marius a letter which is addressed to him. It is written by Cosette, which she also confesses to obtaining a day earlier. After Éponine dies, Marius reads Cosette's letter and writes a farewell letter to her. It is given to Valjean by Gavroche. Valjean, learning that Cosette's lover is fighting, is at first relieved, but an hour later, he puts on a National Guard uniform, arms himself with a gun and ammunition, and leaves his home.

Volume V – Jean Valjean

Valjean arrives at the barricade and immediately saves a man's life, though he is still not certain if he wants to protect Marius or to kill him. Marius recognizes Valjean upon seeing him. Enjolras announces that they are almost out of cartridges. Overhearing this, Gavroche goes to the other side of the barricade to collect more from the dead National Guardsmen. While doing so, he is shot and killed by the soldiers.

Later, Valjean saves Javert from being killed by the students. He volunteers to execute Javert himself, and Enjolras grants permission. Valjean takes Javert out of sight, and then shoots into the air while letting him go. As the barricade falls, Valjean carries off the injured and unconscious Marius. All the other students, including Enjolras, are killed. Valjean escapes through the sewers, carrying Marius' body on his shoulders. At the exit, he runs into Javert, whom he persuades to give him time to return Marius to his family. Javert grants this request. After leaving Marius at M. Gillenormand’s house, Valjean makes another request that he be permitted to go home momentarily, which Javert also allows. They arrive at Rue de l'Homme Arme and Javert informs Valjean that he will wait for him. As Valjean walks upstairs, he looks out the landing window and finds Javert gone. Javert is walking down the street alone, realizing that he is caught between his strict belief in the law and the mercy Valjean has shown him. He feels he can no longer give Valjean up to the authorities. Unable to cope with this dilemma, Javert commits suicide by throwing himself into the Seine.

Marius slowly recovers from his injuries and he and Cosette are soon married.

Meanwhile, M. Thénardier and his younger daughter Azelma are attending the Mardi Gras as "masks." M. Thénardier spots Valjean among the wedding party heading the opposite direction and bids Azelma to follow them. After the wedding, Valjean confesses to Marius that he is an ex-convict. Marius is horrified by the revelation. Convinced that Valjean is of poor moral character, he steers Cosette away from him. Valjean loses the will to live and takes to his bed.

Later, M. Thénardier approaches Marius in order to blackmail him with what he knows of Valjean, but, in doing so, he inadvertently reveals all of the good Valjean has done, including his saving Marius' life on the barricades. Stunned by these revelations, Marius confronts M. Thénardier with his crimes and offers him an immense amount of money if he departs and promises never to return. M. Thénardier accepts the offer, and he and Azelma travel to America where he becomes a slave trader.

As Marius and Cosette rush to Valjean's house, he informs her that Valjean saved his life at the barricade. They arrive to see him, but the great man is dying. In his final moments, he realizes happiness with his adopted daughter and son-in-law by his side. He also reveals Cosette's past to her as well as her mother's name. Joined with them in love, he dies.



  • Jean Valjean (a.k.a. Monsieur Madeleine, a.k.a. Ultime Fauchelevent, a.k.a. Monsieur Leblanc, a.k.a. Urbain Fabre, a.k.a. 24601 a.k.a. 9430) — Convicted for stealing a loaf of bread, he is paroled from prison nineteen years later. Rejected by society for being a former convict, Bishop Myriel turns his life around. He assumes a new identity to pursue an honest life, becoming a factory owner and a mayor. He adopts and raises Fantine's daughter Cosette, saves Marius from the barricade, and dies at an old age.
  • Javert — An obsessive police inspector who continuously hunts, tracks down, and loses Valjean. He goes undercover behind the barricade, but is discovered and unmasked. Valjean has the chance to kill Javert, but lets him go. Later Javert allows Valjean to escape. For the first time, Javert is in a situation in which he knows that the lawful course is immoral. His inner conflict leads him to take his own life by jumping into the River Seine.
  • Bishop Myriel, the bishop of Digne (full name Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel, a.k.a. Monseigneur Bienvenu) — A kindly old priest who is promoted to bishop by a chance encounter with Napoleon. He convinces Valjean to change his ways after Valjean steals some silver from him and saves Valjean from being arrested.
  • Fantine — A Parisian grisette abandoned with a small child with her lover Félix Tholomyès. Fantine leaves her daughter Cosette in the care of the Thénardiers, innkeepers in a village called Montfermeil. Unfortunately, Mme. Thénardier spoils her own daughters and abuses Cosette. Fantine finds work at Monsieur Madeleine's factory, but is fired by a female supervisor who discovers that she is an unwed mother, as Fantine, being illiterate, had other people write her letters to the Thénardiers. To meet repeated demands for money from the Thénardiers, she sells her hair, then her two front teeth, and finally turns to prostitution. Valjean learns of her plight when Javert arrests her for attacking a man who called her insulting names and hurled snow at her back. She dies of a disease that may be tuberculosis before Valjean is able to reunite her with Cosette.
  • Cosette (real name Euphrasie, a.k.a. the Lark, a.k.a. Mademoiselle Lanoire, a.k.a Ursula) — The illegitimate daughter of Fantine and Tholomyès. From approximately the age of three to the age of eight, she is beaten and forced to be a drudge by the Thénardiers. After Fantine dies, Valjean ransoms her from the Thénardiers and she becomes his adopted daughter. She is educated by nuns in a convent in Paris. She later grows up to become very beautiful. She falls in love with Marius Pontmercy, and marries him at the end of the novel.
  • M. & Mme. Thénardier (a.k.a. the Jondrettes, a.k.a. M. Fabantou, a.k.a. M. Thénard) — A corrupt innkeeper and his wife. They have five children: two daughters (Éponine and Azelma) and three sons (Gavroche and two unnamed younger sons). They take in Cosette in her early years, mistreating and abusing her. They also write fabricated letters about Cosette to Fantine in order to extort money from her. They end up losing the inn due to bankruptcy and moving to Paris, living as the Jondrettes. M. Thénardier is associated with an infamous criminal gang called the Patron-Minette, but contrary to common belief he is not their head, both sides operate independently. The Thénardier family also live next door to Marius, who recognizes M. Thénardier as the man who "tended to" his father at Waterloo. They are arrested by Javert after Marius thwarts their attempts to rob and kill Valjean in their apartment. At the end of the novel, Mme. Thénardier has long since died in prison while M. Thénardier and Azelma travel to America where he becomes a slave trader.
  • Marius Pontmercy — A second-generation baron (not recognized as such under the present regime because his father was ennobled by Napoleon Bonaparte) who fell out with his royalist grandfather after discovering his father was an officer under Napoleon. He studies law, joins the revolutionary ABC students and later falls in love with Cosette.
  • Enjolras — The leader of the Friends of the ABC in the Paris uprising. A charming and intimidating man with angelic beauty, he is passionately devoted to democracy, equality and justice. Enjolras is a man of principle that believes in a cause – creating a republic, liberating the poor – without any doubts. He and Grantaire are executed by the National Guards after the barricade falls.
  • Éponine (a.k.a. the Jondrette girl) — The Thénardiers' elder daughter. As a child, she is pampered and spoiled by her parents, but ends up a street urchin when she reaches adolescence. She participates in her father's crimes and begging schemes to obtain money. She is blindly in love with Marius. At Marius' request, she finds Valjean and Cosette's house for him and sadly leads him there. She also prevents her father, Patron-Minette and Brujon from robbing the house during one of Marius’ visits there to see Cosette. After disguising herself as a boy, she manipulates Marius into going to the barricades, hoping that they will die together. However, she saves Marius' life by reaching out her hand to stop a soldier's bullet heading for Marius; she is mortally wounded as the bullet goes through her hand and back. As she is dying, her final request to Marius is that once she has passed, he will kiss her on the forehead. He fulfills her request not because of romantic feelings on his part, but out of pity for her hard life.
  • Gavroche — The unloved middle child and eldest son of the Thénardiers, younger than his sisters. He lives on his own and is a street urchin. He briefly takes care of his two younger brothers, unaware they are related to him. He takes part in the barricades and is killed while collecting bullets from dead National Guardsmen for the ABC students at the barricade.


  • Mademoiselle Baptistine — Bishop Myriel's sister. She loves and venerates her brother.
  • Madame Magloire — Domestic servant for the Bishop and his sister. She is fearful that he leaves the door open to strangers.
  • Petit Gervais — A small boy who drops a coin. There are two perspectives on Jean Valjean's encounter with him. According to one, Valjean, still a man of criminal mind, places his foot on the coin and refuses to return it to the boy, despite Gervais' protests. When the boy flees the scene and Valjean comes to his senses, remembering what the bishop had done for him, he is horribly ashamed of what he has done and searches for the boy in vain. Another interpretation of this scene is that Jean Valjean was not aware that he was stepping on the coin, and snarls at Petit Gervais, thinking he is just annoying him, but realizes later that the coin was under his foot and feels horrible. Either way, he was uncaring of the boy's pleas.
  • Félix Tholomyès — Fantine’s lover and Cosette’s biological father. A rich student, he puts his own happiness and well-being above anything else. He does not think much of his relationship with Fantine, considering it as "a passing affair." After impregnating Fantine, he abandons her as a joke. Hugo then concludes Tholomyès’ involvement in the story by saying that "twenty years later, under King Louis Philippe, he was a fat provincial attorney, rich and influential, a wise elector and rigid juryman; always, however, a man of pleasure."
  • Fauchelevent — Valjean saves Fauchelevent’s life when Valjean lifts a carriage underneath which he is caught. Fauchelevent later will return the favor by providing sanctuary for Valjean and Cosette at a convent, and by providing his name for Valjean's use.
  • Bamatabois — An idler who harasses Fantine and puts snow down her back. He is also one of the jurors at Champmathieu’s trial.
  • Champmathieu — A vagabond who is mistakenly accused of being Valjean.
  • Brevet — An ex-convict from Toulon who knew Valjean there. In 1823, he is serving time in the prison in Arras for an unknown crime. He is the first to claim that Champmathieu is really Valjean. Used to wear knitted, checkered suspenders.
  • Chenildieu — A lifer from Toulon. He and Valjean were chain mates for five years. He once tried to remove the lifer's brand TFP (travaux forcés à perpetuité, forced labor for life) by putting his shoulder on a chafing dish full of embers. He is described as a small, wiry but energetic man.
  • Cochepaille — Another lifer from Toulon. He used to be a shepherd from the Pyrenees who became a smuggler. He is described as stupid and has a tattoo on his arm, March 1, 1815.
  • Sister Simplice — A nun who cares for Fantine on her sickbed. She lies to Javert to protect Valjean, despite her reputation for never having told a lie in her life.
  • Mother Innocente (a.k.a. Marguerite de Blemeur) — The prioress of the Petit-Picpus convent.
  • Toussaint — Valjean and Cosette's servant in Paris. She has a slight stutter.
  • Monsieur Gillenormand — Marius' grandfather. A Monarchist, he disagrees sharply with Marius on political issues, and they have several arguments. He attempts to keep Marius from being influenced by his father, an officer in Napoleon's army. While in perpetual conflict over ideas, he does illustrate his love for his grandson.
  • Mademoiselle Gillenormand — M. Gillenormand's surviving daughter, she lives with her father. Her half-sister (M. Gillenormand's daughter from another marriage), deceased, was Marius' mother.
  • Colonel Georges Pontmercy — Marius' father, and an officer in Napoleon's army. Wounded at Waterloo, Pontmercy erroneously believes M. Thénardier saved his life. He tells Marius of this great debt. He loves Marius with his very heart, and even spies on him when M. Gillenormand does not allow him to visit.
  • Ma'am Bougon (real name Madame Burgon) — Housekeeper of Gorbeau House.
  • Mabeuf — An elderly churchwarden. He was friends with Colonel Pontmercy, and then befriends Marius after Colonel Pontmercy's death. He helps Marius realize the true identity and intentions of his father. He has a great love for plants and books, but ends up having to sell his books due to descending into poverty. Feeling that all hope is lost, he joins the students in the insurrection. He is shot and killed at the top of the barricades when raising their flag.
  • Magnon — Former servant of M. Gillenormand and friend of the Thénardiers. She had been receiving child support payments from M. Gillenormand for her two illegitimate sons, who she claimed were fathered by him. When her sons died in an epidemic, she had them replaced with the Thénardiers' two youngest sons so that she could protect her income. The Thénardiers get a portion of the payments. She is soon arrested due to being allegedly involved in the Gorbeau Robbery.
  • Two little brothers — The two unnamed youngest sons of the Thénardiers. The Thénardiers send their sons to Magnon to replace her own two sons who died of illness. When Magnon is arrested, a cobbler gives the boys a note written by Magnon with an address to go to. Unfortunately, it is torn away from them due to a strong wind. Unable to find it, they end up living on the streets. They soon run into their brother Gavroche, who gives them temporary care and support. The two boys and Gavroche are unaware they are related. Immediately after Gavroche's death at the barricade, the two boys are last seen at the Luxembourg Gardens retrieving and eating discarded bread from a fountain. Their fates are left unknown.
  • Azelma — The younger daughter of the Thénardiers. Along with her sister Éponine, she is spoiled as a child, and suffers the same ragged and impoverished fate with her family when she is older. She also takes part in her father’s crimes. Unlike her sister, Azelma is dependent and faint-hearted. She also does not show any defiance toward her father (this is evident when, before Valjean and Cosette’s charitable visit, he orders her to punch out a window pane in their apartment in order to look poorer. Although hesitant, she does so, resulting in cutting her hand). After the failed robbery of Valjean, she is not seen again until Marius and Cosette’s wedding day, when she and her father are dressed up as "masks" for the Mardi Gras. At the end of the novel, Azelma is the only known Thénardier child who does not die and travels with her father to America.
  • Patron-Minette — A quartet of bandits who assist in the Thénardiers' ambush of Valjean at Gorbeau House and the attempted robbery at the Rue Plumet. The gang consists of Montparnasse, Claquesous, Babet, and Gueulemer. Claquesous, who escaped from the carriage transporting him to prison after the Gorbeau Robbery, joins the revolution under the guise of "Le Cabuc" and is executed by Enjolras for firing on civilians.
  • Brujon — A robber and criminal. He participates in crimes with M. Thénardier and the Patron-Minette gang (such as the Gorbeau Robbery and the attempted robbery at the Rue Plumet). The author describes Brujon as being "a sprightly young fellow, very cunning and very adroit, with a flurried and plaintive appearance."
  • Friends of the ABC — A group of revolutionary students. They fight and die in the insurrection of the Paris uprising on June 5th and 6th, 1832. Their name is described as coming from the following: "They declared themselves the Friends of the A B C,--the Abaissé,-- the debased,--that is to say, the people. They wished to elevate the people. It was a pun which we should do wrong to smile at." Led by Enjolras, its other principal members are Courfeyrac, Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire, Feuilly, Bahorel, Laigle (nicknamed Bossuet, sometimes also written L'Aigle, Lesgle, Lègle or Lesgles), Joly, and Grantaire.[3]
  • Grantaire — Alcoholic student who, unlike the other revolutionaries, does not strongly believe in the cause of the ABC Society, but associates with them because he admires, loves and venerates Enjolras. In the novel their relationship is compared to that of Orestes and his pederastic companion Pylades. Grantaire is executed alongside Enjolras.

Critical reception

The first two volumes of Les Misérables were published on April 3, 1862, heralded by a massive advertising campaign;[1] the remainder of the novel appeared on 15 May 1862. At the time, Victor Hugo enjoyed a reputation as one of France's foremost poets, and the appearance of the novel was a highly anticipated event. Critical reactions were wide-ranging and often negative; some critics found the subject matter immoral, others complained of its excessive sentimentality, and still others were disquieted by its apparent sympathy with the revolutionaries.[2] The Goncourt brothers expressed their great dissatisfaction, judging the novel artificial and disappointing.[3] Flaubert could find within it "neither truth nor greatness."[4] French critic Charles Baudelaire reviewed the work glowingly in newspapers,[5] but in private castigated it as "tasteless and inept."

The book was a great commercial success. The shortest correspondence in history is between Hugo and his publisher Hurst & Blackett in 1862. It is said Hugo was on vacation when Les Misérables (which is over 1200 pages) was published. He telegraphed the single-character message "?" to his publisher, who replied with a single "!". First translated into foreign languages (including Italian, Greek, and Portuguese) the same year it originally appeared, it proved popular not only in France, but across Europe. It has been a popular book ever since it was published, and was a great favorite among the Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War, who occasionally called themselves "Lee's Miserables" (a reference to their deteriorating conditions under General Robert E. Lee). Its popularity continues to this day, and many view it as one of the most important novels ever written.[6][7]

English translations

  • Charles E. Wilbour. New York: Carleton Publishing Company. June 1862. The first American translation, published only months after the French edition of the novel was released. Also, New York: George Routledge and Sons. 1879.
  • Lascelles Wraxall. London: Hurst and Blackett. October 1862. The first British translation.
  • Translator unknown. Richmond, Virginia. 1863. Published by West and Johnston publishers.[8]
  • Isabel F. Hapgood. Published 1887, this translation is available at Project Gutenberg.[9]
  • Norman Denny. Folio Press, 1976. A modern British translation subsequently published in paperback by Penguin Books, ISBN 0-140-44430-0. In the very strictest sense this edition is not quite an unabridged translation: Norman Denny explains in his introduction that he moved two of the novel's longer digressive passages into annexes, and that he also made some abridgements in the text, which he claims are minor.
  • Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee. Signet Classics. March 3, 1987. An unabridged edition based on the Wilbour translation with modernization of language. Paperback ISBN 0-451-52526-4
  • Julie Rose. 2007. Vintage Classics, July 3, 2008. The first new complete translation for over a decade. Julie Rose lives in Sydney and is the translator of more than a dozen works, including a well-received version of Racine's Phèdre as well as works by Paul Virilio, Jacques Rancière, Chantal Thomas, and many others. This new translation published by Vintage Classics includes a detailed biographical sketch of Victor Hugo’s life, a chronology, and notes. ISBN 9780099511137


Film and television

  • 1907, On the barricade, directed Alice Guy Blaché, early adaptation of a part of the novel
  • 1907, Le Chemineau
  • 1909, directed by J. Stuart Blackton
  • 1909, The Bishop's Candlesticks, directed by Edwin S. Porter
  • 1911, directed by Albert Capellani
  • 1913, directed again by Albert Capellani
  • 1913, The Bishop's Candlesticks, directed Herbert Brenon, adaptation of the second book of the first volume
  • 1917, directed by Frank Lloyd
  • 1922, director unknown
  • 1923, Aa Mujou, directed by Kiyohiko Ushihara and Yoshinobu Ikeda, Japanese film, production cancelled after two of four parts
  • 1925, directed by Henri Fescourt
  • 1929, The Bishop's Candlesticks, directed by Norman McKinnell, first sound film adaptation
  • 1929, Aa Mujou, directed by Seika Shiba, Japanese film
  • 1931, Jean Valjean, directed by Tomu Uchida, Japanese film
  • 1934, directed by Raymond Bernard
  • 1935, directed by Richard Boleslawski
  • 1937, Gavrosh, directed by Tatyana Lukashevich, Soviet film
  • 1938, Kyojinden, directed by Mansaku Itami, Japanese film
  • 1943, Los Miserables, directed by Renando A. Rovero, Mexican film
  • 1944, El Boassa, directed by Kamal Selim, Egyptian film
  • 1948, I Miserabili, directed by Riccardo Freda
  • 1949, Les Nouveaux Misérables, directed by Henri Verneuil
  • 1950, Re mizeraburu: Kami to Akuma, directed by Daisuke Ito (English title: Gods and Demons)
  • 1950, Ezai Padum Pado, dirceted by K. Ramnoth, Indian film
  • 1952, directed by Lewis Milestone
  • 1952, I miserabili, re-release of the 1947-film
  • 1955, Kundan, directed by Sohrab Modi, Indian Hindi film
  • 1958, directed by Jean-Paul Le Chanois, starring Jean Gabin
  • 1958, Os Miseráveis, directed by Dionísio Azevedo, Brazilian film
  • 1961, Jean Valjean, Korean film by Seung-ha Jo
  • 1961, Cosette, directed by Alain Boudet on Claude Santelli’s program Le Théâtre de la jeunesse
  • 1962, Gavroche, directed by Alain Boudet on Le Théâtre de la jeunesse
  • 1963, Jean Valjean, directed by Alain Boudet on Le Théâtre de la jeunesse
  • 1964, I miserabili, Italian TV-miniseries directed by Sandro Bolchi, starring: Gastone Moschin (Jean Valjean), Tino Carraro (Javert), Giulia Lazzarini (Fantine/adult Cosette), Loretta Goggi (young Cosette), Antonio Battistella (Thénardier), Cesarina Gheraldi (Mme. Thénardier), Roberto Bisacco (Marius), Aldo Silvani (Monseigneur Bienvenu) and Edoardo Nevola (Gavroche), nearly ten hours long
  • 1967, TV miniseries directed by Alan Bridges, starring: Frank Finlay (Jean Valjean), Anthony Bate (Javert), Alan Rowe (Thénardier), Judy Parfitt (Mme. Thénardier), Michele Dotrice (Fantine), Lesley Roach (Cosette), Elizabeth Counsell (Éponine), Vivian Mackerall (Marius), Derek Lamden (Gavroche), Cavan Kendall (Enjolras), Finlay Currie (Bishop of Digne)
  • 1967, Os Miseráveis, Brazilian film
  • 1967, Sefiller, Turkish film
  • 1972, French TV miniseries directed by Marcel Bluwal, starring: Georges Géret (Jean Valjean), Bernard Fresson (Javert), Nicole Jamet (Cosette), François Marthouret (Marius), Alain Mottet (Thénardier), Micha Bayard (Mme. Thénardier), Hermine Karagheuz (Éponine), Anne-Marie Coffinet (Fantine), Jean-Luc Boutté (Enjolras), Gilles Maidon (Gavroche)
  • 1973, Los Miserables, directed by Antulio Jimnez Pons, Mexican adaptation
  • 1978, UK telefilm, directed by Glenn Jordan and starring Anthony Perkins, Richard Jordan, John Gielgud, Cyril Cusack, and Claude Dauphin
  • 1978, Al Boasa, Egyptian adaptation
  • 1982, directed by Robert Hossein
  • 1985, TV version of the 1982 film, which is 30 minutes longer and divided into four parts
  • 1995, directed by Claude Lelouch (a loose, multi-layered adaptation set in the 20th century starring Jean-Paul Belmondo)
  • 1995, Les Misérables - The Dream Cast in Concert (musical done in concert style)
  • 1998, directed by Bille August and starring Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman, Hans Matheson, and Claire Danes
  • 2000, 6-hour French TV miniseries directed by Josée Dayan and co-produced by Gérard Depardieu, starring: Gérard Depardieu (Jean Valjean), John Malkovich (Javert), Christian Clavier (Thénardier), Veronica Ferres (Mme. Thénardier), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Fantine), Virginie Ledoyen (Cosette), Enrico Lo Verso (Marius), Asia Argento (Éponine), Jeanne Moreau (Mother Innocente), Steffen Wink (Enjolras), Jérôme Hardelay (Gavroche)
  • 2000, 3-hour English TV movie version of the 2000 French miniseries


  • 1977, Cosette, Soviet animation
  • 1977, Shoujo Cosette, broadcasted on the Japanese television program Manga Sekai Mukashi Banashi, 1 episode, Japanese animation
  • 1978, Aa Mujou, cover the first two volumes of the novel, broadcasted on Manga Sekai Mukashi Banashi, 13 episodes, Japanese animation
  • 1979, Jean Valjean Monogatari, directed by Takashi Kuoka for Toei Animation and written by Masaki Tsuji, Japanese animation
  • 1988, by Emerald City Productions
  • 1992, a 26 episode French animated TV series by Studios Animage, AB Productions and Pixibox
  • 2007, Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette, a 52 episode Japanese animated TV series by Nippon Animation



  • 2007, Les Misérables: School Edition, copyrighted
  • 2008, Les Misérables: Le Capitole de Québec version, directed by Frédéric Dubois


  • In 1863, one year after the novel was published, Charles Victor Hugo (Hugo's son) and Paul Meurice first adapted the novel for theatre.[16][17]
  • In 1906, Broadway actor Wilton Lackaye wrote an adaption in five acts, titled The Law and the Man, though primarily with the interest of creating himself a strong role (he would play Valjean).[18]
  • An outdoor adaptation was performed in the summer at the Citadelle in France.[16][19]
  • There is a play adaptation by Tim Kelly.[16][21]
  • There is a play adaptation by Spiritual Twist Productions.[16][22] This play highlights more of the religious aspect from the novel.[16][22] It was last performed in April 2005 at the Clayton Center.[22]


  • An adventure game has been released by Chris Tolworthy, intended as a direct adaptation of the book.[23][24]
  • There is a free downloadable amateur 2D fighting game based on the musical. The game is called ArmJoe, which is created by Takase.[25][26][27] The name is a pun on the novel's Japanese title Aa Mujou (ああ無情).[26][27] The game incorporates the major characters as they appear in the musical, namely Jean Valjean, Enjolras, Marius, Cosette, Éponine, Thénardier, and Javert — as well as a policeman, a robotic clone of Valjean called RoboJean, an embodiment of Judgement, and a rabbit named Ponpon.[27]

Unofficial sequels

  • In 2001, François Cérésa released his own two sequels to the novel: Cosette or the Time of Illusions and the follow-up Marius or The Fugitive. Both novels are published by Plon. Hugo's descendants, including his great-great-grandson Pierre Hugo, wanted the novels banned, considering that they breach the moral rights of the author and betrays the "respect of the integrity" and "spirit" of Hugo's original novel to make money.[29][30][31][32] Cérésa had even retconned a key scene in the original novel, bringing back the character Inspector Javert and changed him to be a hero.[29][32][33] In 2007, the Cour de Cassation ruled in favor of Cérésa and Plon.[29][30][31]

See also


  1. ^ La réception des Misérables en 1862 - Max Bach - PMLA, Vol. 77, No. 5 (Dec., 1962)
  2. ^ L. Gauthier wrote in Le Monde of 17 August 1862: "One cannot read without an unconquerable disgust all the details Monsieur Hugo gives regarding the successful planning of riots." (see [1])
  3. ^ dealCOM, "Publications et écrit - CULTURESFRANCE". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  4. ^ Letter of G. Flaubert to Madame Roger des Genettes - July 1862 (see [2]). In this private letter, Flaubert, declaring himself exasperated by the novel and indignant at watching "the fall of a God," complains of the crude, stereotyped characters - who all "speak very well - but all in the same way" - and finally pronounces the book "infantile."
  5. ^ Les Misérables de Victor Hugo par Charles Baudelaire dans le journal Le Boulevard (1862)
  6. ^ Réception des Misérables en Grèce by Marguerite Yourcenar
  7. ^ Réception des Misérables au Portugal
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Les Misérables by Victor Hugo - Project Gutenberg". 2008-06-22. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  10. ^ "The Mercury Theatre on the Air". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  11. ^ "Les Miserables—1937 Radio Program". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  12. ^ "Les Misérables - Lux Radio Theater 1952". 1952-12-22. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  13. ^ "Les Miserables—CBS Radio Program". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  14. ^ "The Official Roger Allam Fan Site". 2004-04-05. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  15. ^ "Les Miserables—1978 Movie". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b c
  24. ^ Les Miserables: The Game of the Book
  25. ^ ArmJoe's Official Site
  26. ^ a b GamerWiki's ArmJoe page
  27. ^ a b c
  28. ^ a b Haven, Tom De (1995-07-28). "Cosette | Book Review | Entertainment Weekly".,,298074,00.html. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  29. ^ a b c "Heir of Victor Hugo fails to stop Les Mis II | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  30. ^ a b "French Court decides on the sequel of Les Miserables". EDRI. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  31. ^ a b "French court allows Les Miserables sequel". Reuters. 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  32. ^ a b "Sequel to 'Les Misérables' Causes Legal Turmoil - The New York Times". 2001-05-29. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  33. ^ "Cosette, or the Time of Illusion". 2003-02-01. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

All that we are here relating slowly and successively took place at once in all points of the city in the midst of a vast tumult, like the multitude of flashes in a single peal of thunder.

Les Misérables (1862) is a novel by Victor Hugo which many consider to be one of the greatest works of world literature. It tells of the interwoven lives of its characters over several decades of the early 19th Century, focusing to a great extent on the conflicts between the hero Jean Valjean, a fugitive who spent nearly 20 years of his life as prisoner "24601" and police inspector Javert who hunts for him. Others who feature prominently are Cosette the orphaned girl who Valjean raises as a daughter, Marius the revolutionary who loves her, and the villain Thenardier who had horribly exploited Cosette until she was rescued by Valjean. It was originally published in five volumes, four named after some of the primary characters within it. The primary translation used in creating this collection of quotations was that of Charles E. Wilbour.

See also: Les Misérables (the theatrical musical by Boublil and Schonberg)


  • Tant qu’il existera, par le fait des lois et des mœurs, une damnation sociale créant artificiellement, en pleine civilisation, des enfers, et compliquant d’une fatalité humaine la destinée qui est divine; tant que les trois problèmes du siècle, la dégradation de l’homme par le prolétariat, la déchéance de la femme par la faim, l’atrophie de l’enfant par la nuit, ne seront pas résolus; tant que, dans de certaines régions, l’asphyxie sociale sera possible; en d’autres termes, et à un point de vue plus étendu encore, tant qu’il y aura sur la terre ignorance et misère, des livres de la nature de celui-ci pourront ne pas être inutiles.
    • So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilisation, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age — the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing 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 yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.


Volume One: FANTINE

Book I - An Upright Man

  • Vrai ou faux, ce qu’on dit des hommes tient souvent autant de place dans leur vie et souvent dans leur destinée que ce qu’ils font.
    • Be it true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence upon their lives, and especially upon their destinies, as what they do.
      • Chapter I: M. Myriel
  • Sire, dit M. Myriel, vous regardez un bonhomme, et moi je regarde un grand homme. Chacun de nous peut profiter.
    • Sire, said M. Myriel, you behold a good man, and I a great man. May each of us profit by it.
      • Chapter I: M. Myriel
      • M. Myriel to Napoleon
  • Il y a beaucoup de bouches qui parlent et fort peu de têtes qui pensent.
    • There are many tongues to talk, and but few heads to think.
      • Chapter I: M. Myriel
  • Voilà monsieur Géborand qui achète pour un sou de paradis.
    • See Monsieur Geborand, buying a pennyworth of paradise.
      • Chapter IV: Works Answer Words
  • Voilà les hypocrisies effarées qui se dépêchent de protester.
    • How frightened hypocrisy hastens to defend itself.
      • Chapter IV: Works Answer Words
  • D’ailleurs qui est-ce qui atteint son idéal?
    • But who ever does attain to his ideal?
      • Chapter VI: How He Protected His House
  • Je ne suis pas au monde pour garder ma vie, mais pour garder les âmes.
    • I am not in the world to care for my life, but for souls.
      • Chapter VII: Cravatte
      • M. Myriel in disregarding dangers to his life.
  • "Let us never fear robbers nor murderers. Those are dangers from without, petty dangers. Let us fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers; vices are the real murderers. The great dangers lie within ourselves. What matters it what threatens our head or our purse! Let us think only of that which threatens our soul."
  • Personne ne pourrait dire que le passage de cet esprit devant le sien et le reflet de cette grande conscience sur la sienne ne fût pas pour quelque chose dans son approche de la perfection.
    • No one could say that the passage of that soul before his own, and the reflection of that grand conscience upon his own had not had its effect upon his approach to perfection.
      • Chapter X: The Bishop in the presence of an Unknown Light
  • Le général... avait poursuivi l’empereur comme quelqu’un qu’on veut laisser échapper.
    • The general ... pursued the emperor as if he wished to let him escape.
      • Chapter XI: A Qualification

Book II - The Fall

  • Jean Valjean était entré au bagne sanglotant et frémissant; il en sortit impassible. Il y était entré désespéré; il en sortit sombre.

    Que s’était-il passé dans cette âme?

    • Jean Valjean entered the galleys sobbing and shuddering: he went out hardened; he entered in despair: he went out sullen. What had happened within this soul?
      • Chapter VI: Jean Valjean
  • Ainsi, pendant ces dix-neuf ans de torture et d’esclavage, cette âme monta et tomba en même temps. Il y entra de la lumière d’un côté et des ténèbres de l’autre.
    • Thus, during those nineteen years of torture and slavery, did this soul rise and fall at the same time. Light entered on the one side, and darkness on the other.
      • Chapter VII: The Depths of Despair
  • Le propre des peines de cette nature, dans lesquelles domine ce qui est impitoyable, c’est-à-dire ce qui est abrutissant, c’est de transformer peu à peu, par une sorte de transfiguration stupide, un homme en une bête fauve, quelquefois en une bête féroce.
    • The peculiarity of punishment of this kind, in which what is pitiless, that is to say, what is brutalizing, predominates, is to transform little be little, by a slow stupefactions, a man into an animal, sometimes into a wild beast.
      • Chapter VII: The Depths of Despair
  • Le point de départ comme le point d’arrivée de toutes ses pensées était la haine de la loi humaine; cette haine qui, si elle n’est arrêtée dans son développement par quelque incident providentiel, devient, dans un temps donné, la haine de la société, puis la haine du genre humain, puis la haine de la création, et se traduit par un vague et incessant et brutal désir de nuire, n’importe à qui, à un être vivant quelconque.
    • The beginning as well as then end of all his thoughts was hatred of human law; that hatred which, if it be not checked in its growth by some providential event, becomes, in a certain time, hatred of society, then hatred of the human race, and then hatred of creation, and reveals itself by a vague, brutal desire to injure some living being, it matters not who.
      • Chapter VII: The Depths of Despair
  • La nuit n’était pas très obscure; c’était une pleine lune sur laquelle couraient de larges nuées chassées par le vent. Cela faisait au dehors des alternatives d’ombre et de clarté, des éclipses, puis des éclaircies, et au dedans une sorte de crépuscule. Ce crépuscule, suffisant pour qu’on pût se guider, intermittent à cause des nuages, ressemblait à l’espèce de lividité qui tombe d’un soupirail de cave devant lequel vont et viennent des passants.
    • The night was not very dark; there was a full moon, across which large clouds were driving before the wind. This produced alternations of light and shade, out-of-doors eclipses and illuminations, and in-doors a kind of twilight. This twilight, enough to enable him to find his way, changing with the passing clouds, resembled that sort of livid light which falls through the window of a dungeon before which men are passing.
      • Chapter X: The Man Awakes
  • Depuis près d’une demi-heure un grand nuage couvrait le ciel. Au moment où Jean Valjean s’arrêta en face du lit, ce nuage se déchira, comme s’il l’eût fait exprès, et un rayon de lune, traversant la longue fenêtre, vint éclairer subitement le visage pâle de l’évêque... Toute sa face s’illuminait d’une vague expression de satisfaction, d’espérance et de béatitude. C’était plus qu’un sourire et presque un rayonnement. Il y avait sur son front l’inexprimable réverbération d’une lumière qu’on ne voyait pas.
    • For nearly a half hour a great cloud had darkened the sky. At the moment when Jean Valjean paused before the bed the cloud broke as if purposely, and a ray of moonlight crossing the high window, suddenly lighted up the bishop’s pale face…His entire countenance was lit up with a vague expression of content, hope, and happiness. It was more than a smile and almost a radiance. On his forehead rested the indescribable reflection of an unseen light.
      • Chapter XI: What He Does
  • Jusque-là il avait reçue avec assez d’adresse tout entière sur le dos de sa main.

    Cette fois la pièce de quarante sous lui échappa, et vint rouler vers la broussaille jusqu’à Jean Valjean.

    • Until this time he had skillfully caught the whole of them upon the back of his hand. This time the forty-sous coin got away from him, and rolled towards the thicket, near Jean Valjean.
      • Chapter XIII: Petit Gervais
  • Il se roidissait contre l’action angélique et contre les douces paroles du vieillard. "Vous m’avez promis de devenir honnête homme. Je vous achète votre âme. Je la retire à l’esprit de perversité et je la donne au bon Dieu." Cela lui revenait sans cesse. Il opposait à cette indulgence céleste l’orgueil, qui est en nous comme la forteresse du mal. Il sentait indistinctement que le pardon de ce prêtre était le plus grand assaut et la plus formidable attaque dont il eût encore été ébranlé; que son endurcissement serait définitif s’il résistait à cette clémence; que, s’il cédait, il faudrait renoncer à cette haine dont les actions des autres hommes avaient rempli son âme pendant tant d’années, et qui lui plaisait; que cette fois il fallait vaincre ou être vaincu, et que la lutte, une lutte colossale et définitive, était engagée entre sa méchanceté à lui et la bonté de cet homme.
    • He set himself stubbornly in opposition to the angelic deeds and the gentle words of the old man, "you have promised me to become an honest man. I am purchasing your soul, I withdraw it from the spirit of perversity and I give it to God Almighty." This came back to him incessantly. To this celestial tenderness, he opposed pride, which is the fortress of evil in man. He felt dimly that the pardon of the priest was the hardest assault, and the most formidable attack which he had yet sustained; that the hardness of heart would be complete, if it resisted this kindness; that if he yielded, he must renounce that hatred with which he found satisfaction; that, this time, he must conquer or be conquered, and that the struggle, a gigantic and decisive struggle, had begun between his own wickedness, and the goodness of man.
      • Chapter XIII: Petit Gervais
  • Une voix lui disait-elle à l’oreille qu’il venait de traverser l’heure solennelle de sa destinée, qu’il n’y avait plus de milieu pour lui, que si désormais il n’était pas le meilleur des hommes il en serait le pire.
    • Did a voice whisper in his ear that he had just passed through the decisive hour of his destiny, that there was no longer a middle course for him, that if, thereafter, he should not be the best of men, he would be the worst.
      • Chapter XIII: Petit Gervais
  • Pendant qu’il pleurait, le jour se faisait de plus en plus dans son cerveau, un jour extraordinaire, un jour ravissant et terrible à la fois... Tout cela lui revint et lui apparut, clairement, mais dans une clarté qu’il n’avait jamais vue jusque-là... Cependant un jour doux était sur cette vie et sur cette âme. Il lui semblait qu’il voyait Satan à la lumière du paradis.
    • While he wept, the light grew brighter and brighter in his mind — an extraordinary light, a light at once ravishing and terrible... all returned and appeared to him, clearly, but in a light that he had never seen before... There was, however, a softened light upon that life and upon that soul. It seemed to him that he was looking upon Satan by the light of Paradise.
      • Chapter XIII: Petit Gervais

Book III - The Year 1817

  • Propos de table et propos d’amour; les uns sont aussi insaisissables que les autres; les propos d’amour sont des nuées, les propos de table sont des fumées.
    • Table talk and lovers' talk equally elude the grasp; lovers' talk is clouds, table talk is smoke.
      • Chapter VI: A Chapter of Self-Admiration
  • Une discussion est bonne... une querelle vaut mieux.
    • A discussion is good... a quarrel is better.
      • Chapter VIII: Death of a Horse

Book IV - To Entrust is Sometimes to Abandon

  • Ces êtres appartenaient à cette classe bâtarde composée de gens grossiers parvenus et de gens intelligents déchus, qui est entre la classe dite moyenne et la classe dite inférieure, et qui combine quelques-uns des défauts de la seconde avec presque tous les vices de la première, sans avoir le généreux élan de l’ouvrier ni l’ordre honnête du bourgeois.
    • They belonged to that bastard class formed of low people who has risen, and intelligent people who have fallen, which lies between the classes called middle and lower, and which unites some of the faults of the latter with nearly all the vices of the former, without possessing the generous impulses of the workman, or the respectability of the bourgeois.
      • Chapter II: First Sketch of Two Equivocal Faces
      • Said of the Thenardiers
  • Elle y noyait ce qu’elle avait de cervelle.
    • She drowned what little brain she had in them.
      • Chapter II: First Sketch of Two Equivocal Faces
      • Said about Madame Thenardier and her reading of cheap novels
  • Il ne suffit pas d’être méchant pour prospérer. La gargote allait mal.
    • To be wicked does not insure prosperity — for the inn did not succeed well.
      • Chapter III: The Lark
      • About the Thenardier's Inn

Book V - The Descent

  • Un bon maire, c’est utile. Est-ce qu’on recule devant du bien qu’on peut faire?
    • A good mayor is a good thing. Are you afraid of the good you can do?
      • Chapter II: Madeleine
      • Said by an old woman to Father Madeleine, urging him to run for mayor.
  • Le suprême bonheur de la vie, c’est la conviction qu’on est aimé.
    • The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.
      • Chapter IV: M. Madeleine in Mourning
  • Il n’y a rien de tel pour épier les actions des gens que ceux qu’elles ne regardent pas.
    • For prying into any human affairs, none are equal to those whom it does not concern.
      • Chapter VIII: Madame Victurnien Spends Thirty Francs on Morality
  • C’est une erreur de s’imaginer qu’on épuise le sort et qu’on touche le fond de quoi que ce soit.

    Hélas! qu’est-ce que toutes ces destinées ainsi poussées pêle-mêle? où vont-elles? pourquoi sont-elles ainsi?

    Celui qui sait cela voit toute l’ombre.

    Il est seul. Il s’appelle Dieu.

    • It is a mistake to imagine that man can exhaust his destiny, or can reach the bottom of anything whatever. Alas! what are all these destinies thus driven pell-mell? whither go they? why are they so? He who knows that, sees all the shadow. He is alone. His name is God.
      • Chapter XI: Christus Nos Liberavit
  • Elle eût attendri un cœur de granit, mais on n’attendrit pas un cœur de bois.
    • She would have softened a heart of granite; but you cannot soften a heart of wood.
      • Chapter XIII: Solution of Some Questions of Municipal Police
      • Of Fantine and Javert
  • La grande douleur est un rayon divin et terrible qui transfigure les misérables.
    • Great grief is a divine and terrible radiance which transfigures the wretched.
      • Chapter XIII: The Solution of Some Questions connected with the Municipal Police

Book VII - The Champmathieu Affair

  • Faire le poème de la conscience humaine, ne fût-ce qu’à propos d’un seul homme, ne fût-ce qu’à propos du plus infime des hommes, ce serait fondre toutes les épopées dans une épopée supérieure et définitive.
    • To write the poem of the human conscience, were it only of a single man, were it only of the most infamous of men, would be to swallow up all epics in a superior and final epic.
      • Chapter III: A Tempest in a Brain
  • On n’empêche pas plus la pensée de revenir à une idée que la mer de revenir à un rivage. Pour le matelot, cela s’appelle la marée; pour le coupable, cela s’appelle le remords.
    • One can no more prevent the mind from returning to an idea than the sea from returning to a shore. In the case of the sailor, this is called a tide; in the case of the guilty, it is called remorse.
      • Chapter III: A Tempest in a Brain
  • Les bleuets sont bleus, les roses sont roses.
    • Violets are blue. Roses are red.
      • Chapter VI: Sister Simplice Put to the Proof
  • Quand on l’avait jugé, Dieu était absent.
    • When he was tried, God was not there.
      • Chapter IX: A Place for Arriving at Convictions
  • Vous êtes bien malins de me dire où je suis né. Moi, je l’ignore. Tout le monde n’a pas des maisons pour y venir au monde. Ce serait trop commode.
    • You must be very sharp to tell me where I was born. I don't know myself. Everybody can't have houses to be born in; that would be too handy.
      • Chapter X: The System of Denegations

Book VIII - The Counter-Stroke

  • Heureusement Dieu sait où retrouver l’âme.
    • Happily, God knows where to find her soul.
      • Chapter V: A Fitting Tomb

Volume Two: COSETTE

Book I - Waterloo

  • Napoléon... immense somnambule de ce rêve écroulé.
    • Napoleon... mighty somnambulist of a vanished dream.
      • Chapter XIII: The Catastrophe
  • Waterloo est une bataille du premier ordre gagnée par un capitaine du second.
    • Waterloo is a battle of the first rank won by a captain of the second.
      • Chapter XVI: Quot Libras in Duce?
  • Voulez-vous vous rendre compte de ce que c’est que la révolution, appelez-la Progrès; et voulez-vous vous rendre compte de ce que c’est que le progrès, appelez-le Demain.
    • Would you realize what Revolution is, call it Progress; and would you realize what Progress is, call it Tomorrow.
      • Chapter XVII: Is Waterloo to be considered Good?
  • Qu’importe à l’infini?
    • What is that to the Infinite?
      • Chapter XVIII: A Recrudescence of Divine Right

Book II - The Ship Orion

  • Sur un signe affirmatif de l’officier, il avait rompu d’un coup de marteau la chaîne rivée à la manille de son pied, puis il avait pris une corde, et il s’était élancé dans les haubans. Personne ne remarqua en cet instant-là avec quelle facilité cette chaîne fut brisée. Ce ne fut que plus tard qu’on s’en souvint.
    • A sign of assent being given, with one blow of a hammer he broke the chain riveted to the iron ring at his ankle, then took a rope in his hand, and flung himself into the shrouds. Nobody, at the moment, noticed with what ease the chain was broken. It was only some time afterwards that anybody remembered it.
      • Chapter III: The Chain Of The Iron Ring Must Needs Have Undergone A Certain Preparation To Be Thus Broken By One Blow Of The Hammer

Book III - Fulfillment of the Promise to the Departed

  • Il entrevoyait tout, et ne voyait rien.
    • He caught glimpses of everything, but saw nothing.
      • Chapter IX: Thenardier Maneuvering

Book V - A Dark Chase Requires a Silent Hound

  • Cherché, oui; suivi, non.
    • Sought for, he might be, but followed he was not.
      • Chapter II: It is Fortunate that Vehicles Can Cross the Bridge of Austerlitz
  • Jean Valjean avait cela de particulier qu’on pouvait dire qu’il portait deux besaces; dans l’une il avait les pensées d’un saint, dans l’autre les redoutables talents d’un forçat. Il fouillait dans l’une ou dans l’autre, selon l’occasion.
    • Jean Valjean had this peculiarity, that he might be said to carry two knapsacks; in one he had the thoughts of a saint, in the other the formidable talents of a convict. He helped himself from one or the other as occasion required.
      • Chapter V: Which would be Impossible were the Streets Lighted with Gas.
  • Certes, en cet instant-là, si Jean Valjean avait eu un royaume, il l’eût donné pour une corde.
    • Truly at that instant, if Jean Valjean had had a kingdom, he would have given it for a rope.
      • Chapter V: Which would be Impossible were the Streets Lighted with Gas.
  • Les fortes sottises sont souvent faites, comme les grosses cordes, d’une multitude de brins.
    • Great blunders are often made, like large ropes, of a multitude of fibers.
      • Chapter X: In Which it is explained how Javert lost the Game

Book VI - Petite Picpus

  • Sur le premier gobelet on lisait cette inscription: vin de singe, sur le deuxième: vin de lion, sur le troisième: vin de mouton, sur le quatrième: vin de cochon. Ces quatre légendes exprimaient les quatre degrés que descend l’ivrogne; la première ivresse, celle qui égaye; la deuxième, celle qui irrite; la troisième, celle qui hébète; la dernière enfin, celle qui abrutit.
    • Upon the first goblet he read this inscription, monkey wine; upon the second, lion wine; upon the third, sheep wine; upon the fourth, swine wine. These four inscriptions expressed the four descending degrees of drunkenness: the first, that which enlivens; the second, that which irritates; the third, that which stupefies; finally the last, that which brutalizes.
      • Chapter IX: A Century under a Guimpe
  • Nous ne comprenons pas tout, mais nous n’insultons rien.
    • We do not comprehend everything, but we insult nothing.
      • Chapter XI: End of the Petit Picpus
      • Motto of the convent Petit Picpus
  • Il est nécessaire de les connaître, ne fût-ce que pour les éviter.
    • It is necessary to understand them, were it only to avoid them.
      • Chapter XI: End of the Petit Picpus
      • On the study of "the things which are no more"

Book VII - A Parenthesis

Chapter VIII - Faith - Law
  • Nous blâmons l’Église quand elle est saturée d’intrigue, nous méprisons le spirituel âpre au temporel; mais nous honorons partout l’homme pensif.
    • We blame the Church when it is saturated with intrigues; we despise the spiritual when it is harshly austere to the temporal; but we honour everywhere the thoughtful man.
  • Nous saluons qui s’agenouille.
    • We bow to the man who kneels.
  • Une foi; c’est là pour l’homme le nécessaire. Malheur à qui ne croit rien!
    • A faith is a necessity to man. Woe to him who believes nothing.
  • On n’est pas inoccupé parce qu’on est absorbé. Il y a le labeur visible et le labeur invisible.
    • A man is not idle, because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labour and there is an invisible labour.
  • Contempler, c’est labourer; penser, c’est agir. Les bras croisés travaillent, les mains jointes font. Le regard au ciel est une œuvre.
    • To meditate is to labour; to think is to act. Folded arms work, closed hands perform, a gaze fixed on heaven is a toil.
  • Thalès resta quatre ans immobile. Il fonda la philosophie.
    • Thales remained motionless for four years. He founded philosophy.
  • Pour nous les cénobites ne sont pas des oisifs, et les solitaires ne sont pas des fainéants.
    • In our eyes, cenobites are not idlers, nor is the recluse a sluggard.
  • Songer à l’Ombre est une chose sérieuse.
    • To think of the Gloom is a serious thing.
  • Sans rien infirmer de ce que nous venons de dire, nous croyons qu’un perpétuel souvenir du tombeau convient aux vivants. Sur ce point le prêtre et le philosophe sont d’accord. Il faut mourir.
    • Without at all invalidating what we have just said, we believe that a perpetual remembrance of the tomb is proper for the living. On this point, the priest and the philosopher agree: We must die.
  • Mêler à sa vie une certaine présence du sépulcre, c’est la loi du sage; et c’est la loi de l’ascète. Sous ce rapport l’ascète et le sage convergent.
    • To mingle with one's life a certain presence of the sepulchre is the law of the wise man, and it is the law of the ascetic. In this relation, the ascetic and the sage tend towards a common centre.
  • Il y a la croissance matérielle; nous la voulons. Il y a aussi la grandeur morale; nous y tenons.
    • There is a material advancement; we desire it. There is, also, a moral grandeur; we hold fast to it.
  • Les esprits irréfléchis et rapides disent:

    — À quoi bon ces figures immobiles du côté du mystère? À quoi servent-elles ? qu’est-ce qu’elles font?

    Hélas ! en présence de l’obscurité qui nous environne et qui nous attend, ne sachant pas ce que la dispersion immense fera de nous, nous répondons: Il n’y a pas d’œuvre plus sublime peut-être que celle que font ces âmes. Et nous ajoutons: Il n’y a peut-être pas de travail plus utile.

    • Unreflecting, headlong minds say: "Of what use are those motionless figures by the side of mystery? What purpose do they serve? What do they effect?"

      Alas! in the presence of that obscurity which surrounds us and awaits us, not knowing what the vast dispersion of all things will do with us, we answer: There is, perhaps, no work more sublime than that which is accomplished by these souls; and we add, There is no labour, perhaps, more useful.

  • Il faut bien ceux qui prient toujours pour ceux qui ne prient jamais.

    Pour nous, toute la question est dans la quantité de pensée qui se mêle à la prière.

    Leibniz priant, cela est grand; Voltaire adorant, cela est beau. Deo erexit Voltaire.

    • Those who pray always are necessary to those who never pray. In our view, the whole question is in the amount of thought that is mingled with prayer. Leibnitz, praying, is something grand; Voltaire, worshipping, is something beautiful. Deo erexit Voltaire.
  • Nous sommes pour la religion contre les religions.
    • We are for religion against the religions.
  • Nous sommes de ceux qui croient à la misère des oraisons et à la sublimité de la prière.
    • We are of those who believe in the pitifulness of orisons, and in the sublimity of prayer.

Book VIII - Cemeteries Take What is Given Them

  • Impossible! dit-il. Père Fauchelevent, mettez que je suis tombé de là-haut.
    • "Impossible," he said. "Father Fauchelevent, let it go that I fell from on high."
      • Chapter I: Which Treat of the Manner of Entering the Convent
  • N’être pas écouté, ce n’est pas une raison pour se taire.
    • Not being heard is no reason for silence.
      • Chapter I: Which Treat of the Manner of Entering the Convent
  • Celui qui s’évade ne tousse pas et n’éternue pas.
    • He who is escaping never coughs and never sneezes.
      • Chapter IV: In Which Jean Valjean has Quite the Appearance of Having Read Austin Castillejo
  • Ce conscrit était chez lui, occupé à chercher sa carte, et bien empêché de la trouver dans son logis puisqu’elle était dans la poche de Fauchelevent.
    • That recruit was at home, hunting up his "card," and rather unlikely he was to find it, as it was in Fauchelevent's pocket.
      • Chapter VII: In Which will be Found the Origin of the Saying: Don't Lose Your Card
  • Personne ne garde un secret comme un enfant.
    • No one ever keeps a secret so well as a child.
      • Chapter VIII: Successful Examination
  • Le rire, c’est le soleil; il chasse l’hiver du visage humain.
    • Laughter is sunshine; it chases winter from the human face.
      • Chapter IX: The Close

Volume Three: MARIUS

Book I - Paris Atomised

  • Donnez à un être l’inutile et ôtez-lui le nécessaire, vous aurez le gamin.
    • Give to a being the useless, and deprive him of the needful, and you have the gamin.
      • Chapter III: He is Agreeable
  • Ce vil sable que vous foulez aux pieds, qu’on le jette dans la fournaise, qu’il y fonde et qu’il y bouillonne, il deviendra cristal splendide, et c’est grâce à lui que Galilée et Newton découvriront les astres.
    • This lowly sand which you trample beneath your feet, if you cast it into the furnace, and let it melt and seethe, shall become resplendent crystal, and by means of such as it a Galileo and a Newton shall discover stars.
      • Chapter XII: The Future Latent In the People
      • About the lower classes of France

Book II - The Grand Bourgeois

  • Ce frère... se croyait obligé de faire l’aumône aux pauvres qu’il rencontrait, mais il ne leur donnait jamais que des monnerons ou des sous démonétisés, trouvant ainsi moyen d’aller en enfer par le chemin du paradis.
    • This brother... felt obliged to give alms to the poor whom he met, but never gave them anything more than coppers or worn-out sous, finding thus the means of going to Hell by the road to Paradise.
      • Chapter VI: In Which We See La Magnon and Her Two Little Ones
  • Toutes deux avaient des ailes, l’une comme un ange, l’autre comme une oie.
    • Both had wings, one like angel, the other like a goose.
      • Chapter VIII: Two Do Not Make a Pair
      • About two sisters

Book III - The Grandfather and the Grandson

  • Il n’allait nulle part qu’à la condition d’y dominer.
    • He went nowhere save on condition of ruling there.
      • Chapter I: An Old Salon
      • On M. Gillenormand, Grandfather of Marius
  • Un voleur y est admis, pourvu qu’il soit dieu.
    • A thief is admitted, provided he be a lord.
      • Chapter I: An Old Salon
  • Les années finissent par faire autour d’une tête un échevellement vénérable.
    • Years place at last a venerable crown upon a head.
      • Chapter I: An Old Salon
  • Je ne sais point si c’est moi qui n’entends plus le français, ou si c’est vous qui ne le parlez plus, mais le fait est que je ne comprends pas.
    • I do not know whether it is that I no longer understand French, or you no longer speak it; but the fact is I do not understand you.
      • Chapter II: One of the Red Spectres of that Time
      • George Pontmercy's response to his being told he could no longer wear a medal that he had earned fighting in Bonaparte's army
  • Monsieur le procureur du roi, m’est-il permis de porter ma balafre?
    • Monsieur procurer du roi, am I allowed to wear my scar?
      • Chapter II: One of the Red Spectres of that Time
  • En deux jours le colonel avait été enterré, et en trois jours oublié.
    • In two days the colonel had been buried, and in three days forgotten.
      • Chapter IV: The End of the Brigand
  • Il était plein de regrets, et de remords, et il songeait avec désespoir que tout ce qu’il avait dans l’âme, il ne pouvait plus le dire maintenant qu’à un tombeau!
    • He was full of regret and remorse, and he thought with despair that all he had in his soul he could say now only to a tomb.
      • Chapter VI: What It Is to have Met a Churchwarden
  • Marius vit en Bonaparte le spectre éblouissant qui se dressera toujours sur la frontière et qui gardera l’avenir. Despote, mais dictateur; despote résultant d’une République et résumant une révolution. Napoléon devint pour lui l’homme-peuple comme Jésus est l’homme-Dieu.

    On le voit, à la façon de tous les nouveaux venus dans une religion, sa conversion l’enivrait, il se précipitait dans l’adhésion et il allait trop loin. Sa nature était ainsi: une fois sur une pente, il lui était presque impossible d’enrayer. Le fanatisme pour l’épée le gagnait et compliquait dans son esprit l’enthousiasme pour l’idée. Il ne s’apercevait point qu’avec le génie, et pêle-mêle, il admirait la force, c’est-à-dire qu’il installait dans les deux compartiments de son idolâtrie, d’un côté ce qui est divin, de l’autre ce qui est brutal. À plusieurs égards, il s’était mis à se tromper autrement. Il admettait tout. Il y a une manière de rencontrer l’erreur en allant à la vérité. Il avait une sorte de bonne foi violente qui prenait tout en bloc. Dans la voie nouvelle où il était entré, en jugeant les torts de l’ancien régime comme en mesurant la gloire de Napoléon, il négligeait les circonstances atténuantes.

    • Marius saw in Bonaparte the flashing spectre which will always rise upon the frontier, and which will guard the future. Despot, but dictator; despot resulting from a republic and summing up a revolution. Napoleon became to him the people-man as Jesus is the God-man.

      We see, like all new converts to a religion, his conversion intoxicated him, he plunged headlong into adhesion, and he went too far. His nature was such; once upon a descent it was almost impossible for him to hold back. Fanaticism for the sword took possession of him, and became complicated in his mind with enthusiasm for the idea. He did not perceive that along with genius, and indiscriminately, he was admiring force, that is to say that he was installing in the two compartments of his idolatry, on one side what is divine, and on the other what is brutal. In several respects he began to deceive himself in other matters. He admitted everything. There is a way of meeting error while on the road of truth. He had a sort of willful implicit faith which swallowed everything in mass. On the new path upon which he had entered, in judging the crimes of the ancient regime as well as in measuring the glory of Napoleon, he neglected the attenuating circumstances.

      • Chapter VI: What It Is to have Met a Churchwarden
  • Ne pas voir les gens, cela permet de leur supposer toutes les perfections.
    • Not seeing people permits us to imagine in them every perfection.
      • Chapter VII: Some Petticoat
  • Mon père... c’était un homme humble et héroïque qui a glorieusement servi la République et la France, qui a été grand dans la plus grande histoire que les hommes aient jamais faite, qui a vécu un quart de siècle au bivouac, le jour sous la mitraille et sous les balles, la nuit dans la neige, dans la boue, sous la pluie, qui a pris deux drapeaux, qui a reçu vingt blessures, qui est mort dans l’oubli et dans l’abandon, et qui n’a jamais eu qu’un tort, c’est de trop aimer deux ingrats, son pays et moi!
    • My father... was a humble and heroic man, who served the republic and France gloriously, who was great in the greatest history that men have made, who lived a quarter of a century in the camp, by day under grape and under balls, by night in the snow, in the mud, and in the rain, who captured colours, who received twenty wounds, who died forgotten and abandoned, and who had but one fault; that was in loving too dearly two ingrates, his country and me.
      • Chapter VIII: Marble Against Granite

Book IV - The Friends of the A B C

  • Il ne semblait pas savoir qu’il y eût sur la terre un être appelé la femme.
    • He did not seem to know that there was on the earth a being called woman.
      • Chapter I: A Group Which Almost Became Historic
      • About Enjolras
  • Un incendie peut faire une aurore sans doute, mais pourquoi ne pas attendre le lever du jour?
    • A fire would cause a dawn, undoubtedly, but why not wait for the break of day?
      • Chapter I: A Group Which Almost Became Historic
  • Sa spécialité était de ne réussir à rien. Par contre, il riait de tout... Il était pauvre, mais son gousset de bonne humeur était inépuisable. Il arrivait vite à son dernier sou, jamais à son dernier éclat de rire. Quand l’adversité entrait chez lui, il saluait cordialement cette ancienne connaissance, il tapait sur le ventre aux catastrophes; il était familier avec la Fatalité au point de l’appeler par son petit nom.
    • His specialty was to succeed in nothing... He was poor, but his fund of good humor was inexhaustible. He soon reached the last sou but never the last burst of laughter. When met by adversity, he saluted that acquaintance cordially, he patted catastrophes on the back; he was so familiar with fatality as to call it by its nick-name.
      • Chapter I: A Group Which Almost Became Historic
      • About L'Aigle [the eagle] aka Lesgueules, Lesgle, or Bossuet
  • C’est dommage que je sois un ignorant, car je vous citerais une foule de choses; mais je ne sais rien.
    • It is a pity that I am ignorant, for I would quote you a crowd of things, but I don't know anything.
      • Chapter IV: The Back Room of the Cafe Musain
      • Grantaire speaking of himself
  • Ce sera avaler une langue bien vite ou une pièce de cent sous bien lentement.
    • That will be swallowing a language very rapidly or a hundred-sous piece very slowly.
      • Chapter VI: Res Angusta
      • Marius must learn German and English to get a job: he only has a hundred sous left and states that this money will last until he learns the languages. His friend, Courfeyrac, remarks that either he will learn fast, or spend slow.

Book V - The Excellence of Misfortune

  • Voulant toujours être en deuil, il se vêtissait de la nuit.
    • Desiring always to be in mourning, he clothed himself with night.
      • Chapter I: Marius Needy
  • Ses créanciers l’avaient cherché aussi, avec moins d’amour que Marius, mais avec autant d’acharnement, et n’avaient pu mettre la main sur lui.
    • His creditors had sought for him, also, with less love than Marius but with as much zeal, and had not been able to put their hands on him.
      • Chapter II: Marius Poor
      • Marius is looking for Thenardier because he believes his father's life had been saved by Thenardier.
  • Il se gardait fort d’être inutile; avoir des livres ne l’empêchait pas de lire, être botaniste ne l’empêchait pas d’être jardinier.
    • He took good care not to be useless; having books did not prevent him from reading, being a botanist did not prevent him from being a gardener.
      • Chapter IV: M. Mabeuf
  • Il allait à la messe plutôt par douceur que par dévotion, et puis parce qu’aimant le visage des hommes, mais haïssant leur bruit, il ne les trouvait qu’à l’église réunis et silencieux.
    • He went to mass rather from good-feeling than from devotion, and because he loved the faces of men, but hated their noise and he found them, at church only, gathered together and silent.
      • Chapter IV: M. Mabeuf
  • Il n’avait jamais réussi à aimer aucune femme autant qu’un oignon de tulipe ou aucun homme autant qu’un elzevir.
    • Finally, he had never succeeded in loving any woman as much as a tulip bulb, or any man as much as an Elzevir.
      • Chapter IV: M. Mabeuf
  • Une horloge ne s’arrête pas court au moment précis où l’on en perd la clef.
    • A clock does not stop at the very moment you lose the key.
      • Chapter IV: M. Mabeuf
  • Il avait fini par ne plus guère regarder que le ciel, seule chose que la vérité puisse voir du fond de son puits.
    • He had finally come hardly to look at nothing but the sky, the only thing that truth can see from the bottom of her well.
      • Chapter V: Poverty A Good Neighbor of Misery
  • On jugerait bien plus sûrement un homme d’après ce qu’il rêve que d’après ce qu’il pense.
    • We should judge a man much more surely from what he dreams than from what he thinks.
      • Chapter V: Poverty A Good Neighbor of Misery

Book VI - The Conjunction of Two Stars

  • Je viens de rencontrer le chapeau neuf et l’habit neuf de Marius et Marius dedans. Il allait sans doute passer un examen. Il avait l’air tout bête.
    • I have just met Marius' new hat and coat, with Marius inside. Probably he was going to an examination. He looked stupid enough.
      • Chapter IV: Commencement of a Great Distemper
      • Courfeyrac about Marius

Book VII - Patron Minette

  • Babet était maigre et savant. Il était transparent, mais impénétrable. On voyait le jour à travers les os, mais rien à travers la prunelle.
    • Babet was thin and shrewd. He was transparent, but impenetrable. You could see the light through his bones, but nothing through his eye.
      • Chapter III: Babet, Gueulemer, Claquesous, and Montparnasse
      • Babet is a bandit

Book VIII - The Noxious Poor

  • Pauvres mères! pensa-t-il. Il y a une chose plus triste que de voir ses enfants mourir; c’est de les voir mal vivre.
    • Poor mothers, he thought. There is one thing sadder than to see their children die — to see them lead evil lives.
      • Chapter II: A Waif
  • Ils sont rares, ceux qui sont tombés sans être dégradés; d’ailleurs il y a un point où les infortunés et les infâmes se mêlent et se confondent dans un seul mot, mot fatal, les misérables.
    • Those are rare who fall without becoming degraded; there is a point, moreover, at which the unfortunate and the infamous are associated and confounded in a single word, a fatal word, Les Misérables.
      • Chapter V: The Judas of Providence
  • Vous parlez là comme un homme brave et comme un homme honnête. Le courage ne craint pas le crime, et l’honnêteté ne craint pas l’autorité.
    • You speak now like a brave man and an honest man. Courage does not fear crime, and honesty does not fear authority.
      • Chapter XIV: In Which a Police Officer Gives a Lawyer Two Fisticuffs
      • Javert speaking to Marius
  • Bossuet! s’écria Courfeyrac, aigle de Meaux! vous êtes une prodigieuse brute. Suivre un homme qui suit un homme!
    • "Bossuet!" Courfeyrac exclaimed. "Eagle of Meaux! you are a prodigious fool. Follow a man who is following a man!"
      • Chapter XV: Jondrette Makes his Purchase
  • Le bouge ainsi éclairé ressemblait plutôt à une forge qu’à une bouche de l’enfer, mais Jondrette, à cette lueur, avait plutôt l’air d’un démon que d’un forgeron.
    • The room thus lighted up seemed rather a smithy than the mouth of hell; but Jondrette, in that glare, had rather the appearance of a demon than of a blacksmith.
      • Chapter XVII: Use of Marius' Five-Franc Piece
      • "Jondrette" is Thenardier
Chapter XX - The Ambuscade
  • Ce vieillard, si ferme et si brave devant un tel danger, semblait être de ces natures qui sont courageuses comme elles sont bonnes, aisément et simplement. Le père d’une femme qu’on aime n’est jamais un étranger pour nous. Marius se sentit fier de cet inconnu.
    • This old man, so firm and so brave before so great a peril, seemed to be one of those natures who are courageous as they are good, simply and naturally. The father of a woman that we love is never a stranger to us. Marius felt proud of this unknown man.
  • Je ne m’appelle pas Fabantou, je ne m’appelle pas Jondrette, je me nomme Thénardier! je suis l’aubergiste de Montfermeil ! entendez-vous bien? Thénardier! Maintenant me reconnaissez-vous?
    • My name is not Fabantou, my name is not Jondrette, my name is Thenardier! I am the innkeeper of Montfermeil! do you understand me? Thenardier! now do you know me?
  • Au moment où Jondrette avait dit: Je me nomme Thénardier, Marius avait tremblé de tous ses membres et s’était appuyé au mur comme s’il eût senti le froid d’une lame d’épée à travers son cœur.
    • When Jondrette had said: My name is Thenardier , Marius had trembled in every limb, and supported himself against the wall as if he had felt the chill of a sword-blade through his heart.
  • Pardon, monsieur, répondit M. Leblanc avec un accent de politesse qui avait en un pareil moment quelque chose d’étrange et de puissant, je vois que vous êtes un bandit.
    • "Pardon me, monsieur," answered M. Leblanc, with a tone of politeness which, at such a moment, had a peculiarly strange and powerful effect, "I see that you are a bandit."
      • "M. Leblanc" is Valjean
  • Le prisonnier n’était plus attaché au lit que par une jambe.

    Avant que les sept hommes eussent eu le temps de se reconnaître et de s’élancer, lui s’était penché sous la cheminée, avait étendu la main vers le réchaud, puis s’était redressé, et maintenant Thénardier, la Thénardier et les bandits, refoulés par le saisissement au fond du bouge, le regardaient avec stupeur élevant au-dessus de sa tête le ciseau rouge d’où tombait une lueur sinistre, presque libre et dans une attitude formidable.

    • The prisoner was no longer fastened to the bed save by one leg.
      Before the seven men had had time to recover themselves and spring upon him, he had bent over to the fireplace, reached his hand towards the furnace, then rose up, and now Thenardier, the Thenardiess, and the bandits, thrown by the shock into the back part of the room, beheld him with stupefaction, holding above his head the glowing chisel, from which fell an ominous light, almost free and in a formidable attitude.
  • Vous êtes des malheureux, mais ma vie ne vaut pas la peine d’être tant défendue. Quant à vous imaginer que vous me feriez parler, que vous me feriez écrire ce que je ne veux pas écrire, que vous me feriez dire ce que je ne veux pas dire…

    Il releva la manche de son bras gauche et ajouta:

    — Tenez.

    En même temps il tendit son bras et posa sur la chair nue le ciseau ardent qu’il tenait dans sa main droite par le manche de bois.

    On entendit le frémissement de la chair brûlée, l’odeur propre aux chambres de torture se répandit dans le taudis. Marius chancela éperdu d’horreur, les brigands eux-mêmes eurent un frisson, le visage de l’étrange vieillard se contracta à peine, et, tandis que le fer rouge s’enfonçait dans la plaie fumante, impassible et presque auguste, il attachait sur Thénardier son beau regard sans haine où la souffrance s’évanouissait dans une majesté sereine.

    • "You are pitiable, but my life is not worth the trouble of so long a defence. As to your imagining that you could make me speak, that you could make me write what I do not wish to write, that you could make me say what I do not wish to say —"
      He pulled up the sleeve of his left arm, and added:
      At the same time he extended his arm, and laid upon the naked flesh the glowing chisel, which he held in his right hand, by the wooden handle.
      They heard the hissing of the burning flesh; the odour peculiar to chambers of torture spread through the den.
      Marius staggered, lost in horror; the brigands themselves felt a shudder; the face of the wonderful old man hardly contracted, and while the red iron was sinking into the smoking, impassable, and almost august wound, he turned upon Thenardier his fine face, in which there was no hatred, and in which suffering was swallowed up in a serene majesty.

Volume Four: ST. DENIS

Full title: Saint Denis and Idyl of the Rue Plumet

Book I - A Few Pages of History

  • La logique ignore l’à peu près; absolument comme le soleil ignore la chandelle.
    • Logic ignores the Almost, just as the sun ignores the candle.
      • Chapter II: Badly Sewed
  • Prospérité sociale, cela veut dire l’homme heureux, le citoyen libre, la nation grande.
    • Social prosperity means man happy, the citizen free, the nation great.
      • Chapter IV: Cracks beneath the Foundation

Book II - Eponine

  • Rien n’est plus dangereux que le travail discontinué; c’est une habitude qui s’en va. Habitude facile à quitter, difficile à reprendre.
    • Nothing is more dangerous than discontinued labor; it is habit lost. A habit easy to abandon, difficult to resume.
      • Chapter I: The Field of the Lark
  • La pensée est le labeur de l’intelligence, la rêverie en est la volupté.
    • Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.
      • Chapter I: The Field of the Lark
  • Heureux, même dans les angoisses, celui à qui Dieu a donné une âme digne de l’amour et du malheur! Qui n’a pas vu les choses de ce monde et le cœur des hommes à cette double lumière n’a rien vu de vrai et ne sait rien.
    • Happy, even in anguish, is he to whom God has given a soul worthy of love and of grief! He who has not seen the things of this world, and the hearts of men by this double light, has seen nothing, and know nothing of the truth.
      • Chapter I: The Field of the Lark
  • Non, répondit-elle, je suis le diable, mais ça m’est égal.
    • No. I am the devil, but that is all the same to me.
      • Chapter III: An Apparition to Father Mabeuf
      • Eponine responding to F. Mabeuf, who had just said to her "you are an angel, since you care for flowers."

Book III - The House in the Rue Plumet

  • En 93, un chaudronnier avait acheté la maison pour la démolir, mais n’ayant pu en payer le prix, la nation le mit en faillite. De sorte que ce fut la maison qui démolit le chaudronnier.
    • In '93, a coppersmith bought the house to pull it down, but not being able to pay the price for it, the nation sent him into bankruptcy. So that it was the house that pulled down the coppersmith.
      • Chapter I: The Secret House
  • Où finit le télescope, le microscope commence. Lequel des deux a la vue la plus grande?
    • Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?
      • Chapter III: Requiescant
  • Il se disait qu’il n’avait vraiment pas assez souffert pour mériter un si radieux bonheur, et il remerciait Dieu, dans les profondeurs de son âme, d’avoir permis qu’il fût ainsi aimé, lui misérable, par cet être innocent.
    • He said to himself that he really had not suffered enough to deserve such radiant happiness, and he thanked God, in the depths of his soul, for having permitted that he, a miserable man, should be so loved by this innocent being.
      • Chapter IV: Change of Grating
      • Valjean about Cosette
  • Les femmes jouent avec leur beauté comme les enfants avec leur couteau. Elles s’y blessent.
    • Women play with their beauty as children do with their knives. They wound themselves with it.
      • Chapter VI: The Battle Commences
  • Le premier symptôme de l’amour vrai chez un jeune homme, c’est la timidité, chez une jeune fille, c’est la hardiesse.
    • The first symptom of true love in a young man is timidity; in a young girl it is boldness.
      • Chapter VI: The Battle Commences. Trans. Isabel Hapgood.
  • Dante eût cru voir les sept cercles de l’enfer en marche.
    • Dante would have thought he saw the seven circles of Hell on their passage.
      • Chapter VIII: The Chain
      • Valjean and Cosette watch a procession of seven wagons of men who are condemned to the galleys pass by

Book IV - Aid from Below May be Aid from Above

  • Un soir le petit Gavroche n’avait point mangé; il se souvint qu’il n’avait pas non plus dîné la veille; cela devenait fatigant. Il prit la résolution d’essayer de souper.
    • One evening little Gavroche had had no dinner; he remembered that he had had no dinner also the day before; this was becoming tiresome. He resolved that he would try for some supper.
      • Chapter II: Mother Plutarch is not Embarrassed on the Explanation of a Phenomenon

Book VI - Little Gavroche

  • Le plus terrible des motifs et la plus indiscutable des réponses: Parce que.
    • The most terrible of motives and the most unanswerable of responses: Because.
      • Chapter I: A Malevolent Trick of the Wind.
  • Le barbier, dans sa boutique chauffée d’un bon poêle, rasait une pratique et jetait de temps en temps un regard de côté à cet ennemi, à ce gamin gelé et effronté qui avait les deux mains dans ses poches, mais l’esprit évidemment hors du fourreau.
    • The barber in his shop, warmed by a good stove, was shaving a customer and casting from time to time a look towards this enemy, this frozen and brazen gamin, who had both hands in his pockets, but his wits evidently out of their sheath.
      • Chapter II: In Which Little Gavroche Takes Advantage of Napoleon the Great.
  • Le bureau est fermé, dit Gavroche, je ne reçois plus de plaintes.
    • "The bureau is closed," said Gavroche. "I receive no more complaints."
      • Chapter II: In Which Little Gavroche Takes Advantage of Napoleon the Great.
      • Said by Gavroche to someone who complained when Gavroche splashed his polished boots with mud.
  • À un certain degré de détresse, le pauvre, dans sa stupeur, ne gémit plus du mal et ne remercie plus du bien.
    • At a certain depth of distress, the poor, in their stupor, groan no longer over evil, and are no longer thankful for good.
      • Chapter II: In Which Little Gavroche Takes Advantage of Napoleon the Great.
  • Ah çà! s’écria Gavroche, qu’est-ce que cela signifie ? Il repleut ! Bon Dieu, si cela continue, je me désabonne.
    • "Ah," cried Gavroche, "what does this mean? It rains again! Good God, if this continues, I withdraw my subscription."
      • Chapter II: In Which Little Gavroche Takes Advantage of Napoleon the Great.
      • Gavroche has just given his coat to a girl when the storm starts to worsen.

Book VII - Argot

  • Les esprits réfléchis usent peu de cette locution: les heureux et les malheureux. Dans ce monde, vestibule d’un autre évidemment, il n’y a pas d’heureux.

    La vraie division humaine est celle-ci: les lumineux et les ténébreux.

    Diminuer le nombre des ténébreux, augmenter le nombre des lumineux, voilà le but. C’est pourquoi nous crions: enseignement! science!

    • Thoughtful persons seldom speak of happiness or unhappiness. In this world, which is so plainly the antechamber of another, there are no happy men. The true division of humanity is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness. Our aim must be to diminish the number of the latter and increase the number of the former. That is why we demand education and knowledge.
      • Chapter I: Origin. Trans. Norman Denny
  • Ce qu’on peut faire dans un sépulcre, ils agonisaient, et ce qu’on peut faire dans un enfer, ils chantaient. Car où il n’y a plus l’espérance, le chant reste.
    • What can be done in a sepulcher, they agonised, and what can be done in a hell, they sang. For where there is no more hope, song remains.
      • Chapter II: Roots
  • Vous aurez beau faire, vous n’anéantirez pas cet éternel reste du cœur de l’homme, l’amour.
    • The endeavor is vain, you cannot annihilate that eternal relic of the human heart, love.
      • Chapter II: Roots
  • Plaignons, à l’égal des estomacs, les esprits qui ne mangent pas. S’il y a quelque chose de plus poignant qu’un corps agonisant faute de pain, c’est une âme qui meurt de la faim de la lumière.
    • Let us lament as over stomachs, over minds which do not eat. If there is anything more poignant than a body agonising for want of bread, it is a soul which is dying of hunger for light.
      • Chapter IV The Two Duties: To Watch and to Hope
  • Il n’y a qu’une manière de refuser Demain, c’est de mourir.
    • There is but one way of refusing To-morrow, that is to die.
      • Chapter IV: The Two Duties: To Watch and to Hope
  • Faut-il continuer de lever les yeux vers le ciel? le point lumineux qu'on y distingue est-il de ceux qui s'éteignent? L'idéal est effrayant à voir, ainsi perdu dans les profondeurs, petit, isolé, imperceptible, brillant, mais entouré de toutes ces grandes menaces noires monstrueusement amoncelées autour de lui; pourtant pas plus en danger qu'une étoile dans les gueules des nuages.
    • Should we continue to look upwards? Is the light we can see in the sky one of those which will presently be extinguished? The ideal is terrifying to behold, lost as it is in the depths, small, isolated, a pin-point, brilliant but threatened on all sides by the dark forces that surround it: nevertheless, no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds.
      • Chapter IV: The Two Duties: To Watch and to Hope

Book VIII - Enchantments and Desolations

  • Le compliment, c'est quelque chose comme le baiser à travers le voile.
    • A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil.
      • Chapter I: Marius, while seeking a Girl in a Bonnet encounters a Man in a Cap
  • Quand on est à la fin de la vie, mourir, cela veut dire partir; quand on est au commencement, partir, cela veut dire mourir.
    • When we are at the end of life, to die means to go away; when we are at the beginning, to go away means to die.
      • Chapter VI: Marius Becomes so Real as to Give Cosette his Address

Book IX - Where are They Going?

  • Il y a des moments où l’on a une fournaise sous le crâne. Marius était dans un de ces moments-là.
    • There are moments when a man has a furnace in his brain. Marius was in one of those moments.
      • Chapter II: Marius

Book X - June 5th, 1832

  • Le vent des révolutions n’est pas maniable.
    • The wind of revolutions is not tractable.
      • Chapter IV: The Ebullitions of Former Times

Book XI - The Atom Fraternises with the Hurricane

  • Ses frères le soir, son père le matin; voilà quelle avait été sa nuit.
    • His brothers in the evening, his father in the morning; such had been his night.
      • Chapter I: Some Insight into the Origin of Gavroche's Poetry — Influence of an Academician upon that Poetry.
      • In the evening, Gavroche had found food and shelter for two boys without knowing that they were his brothers. Early the next morning he helped in his father's escape from jail and was not even recognized by him.
  • La rue est libre, les pavés sont à tout le monde.
    • The road is free; the streets belong to everybody.
      • Chapter VI: Recruits

Book XII - Corinth

  • Ce que vous autres appelez le progrès marche par deux moteurs, les hommes et les événements. Mais, chose triste, de temps en temps, l’exceptionnel est nécessaire. Pour les événements comme pour les hommes, la troupe ordinaire ne suffit pas; il faut parmi les hommes des génies, et parmi les événements des révolutions. Les grands accidents sont la loi; l’ordre des choses ne peut s’en passer; et, à voir les apparitions de comètes, on serait tenté de croire que le ciel lui-même a besoin d’acteurs en représentation. Au moment où l’on s’y attend le moins, Dieu placarde un météore sur la muraille du firmament. Quelque étoile bizarre survient, soulignée par une queue énorme. Et cela fait mourir César. Brutus lui donne un coup de couteau, et Dieu un coup de comète.
    • What you fellows call progress moves by two springs, men and events. But sad to say, from time to time the exceptional is necessary. For events as well as for men, the stock company is not enough; geniuses are needed among men, and revolutions among events. Great accidents are the law; the order of things cannot get along without them; and, to see the apparitions of comets, one would be tempted to believe that Heaven itself is in need of star actors. At the moment you least expect it, God placards a meteor on the wall of the firmament. Some strange star comes along, underlined by an enormous tail. And that makes Caesar die. Brutus strikes him with a knife, and God with a comet.
      • Chapter II: Preliminary Gaiety
  • Les grands périls ont cela de beau qu’ils mettent en lumière la fraternité des inconnus.
    • Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.
      • Chapter IV: Attempt at Consolation upon the Widow Hucheloup
  • C’est la souris qui a pris le chat.
    • The mouse has caught the cat.
      • Chapter VII: The Man Recruited in the Rue Des Billettes
      • Said by Gavroche to Javert after revealing him to be a police spy
  • Sa vie avait été ténèbres; sa fin fut nuit.
    • His life had been darkness, his end was night.
      • Chapter VIII: Several Interrogation Points Concerning One Le Cabuc, Who Perhaps was Not Le Cabuc

Book XIII - Marius Enters the Shadow

  • La guerre civile? qu’est-ce à dire? Est-ce qu’il y a une guerre étrangère? Est-ce que toute guerre entre hommes n’est pas la guerre entre frères? La guerre ne se qualifie que par son but. Il n’y a ni guerre étrangère, ni guerre civile; il n’y a que la guerre injuste et la guerre juste.
    • Civil war? What does this mean? Is there any foreign war? Is not every war between men, war between brothers? War is modified only by its aim. There is neither foreign war, nor civil war; there is only unjust war and just war.
      • Chapter III: The Extreme Limit

Book XIV - The Grandeurs of Despair

  • Marius avait trop peu vécu encore pour savoir que rien n’est plus imminent que l’impossible, et que ce qu’il faut toujours prévoir, c’est l’imprévu.
    • Marius had lived too little as yet to know that nothing is more imminent than the impossible, and that what we must always forsee is the unforseen.
      • Chapter V: End of Jean Prouvaire's Rhyme
  • Tes amis viennent de te fusiller.
    • Your friends have just shot you.
      • Chapter V: End of Jean Prouvaire's Rhyme
      • Said by Enjolras to Javert after Prouvaire's execution.

Book XV - The Rue De L'Homme Armé

  • À de certaines heures, tout semble impossible; à d’autres heures, tout paraît aisé; Jean Valjean était dans une de ces bonnes heures.
    • At certain hours, everything seems impossible; at other hours, everything appears easy; Jean Valjean was in one of those happy hours.
      • Chapter I: Blotter, Blabber
  • L’âme ne se rend pas au désespoir sans avoir épuisé toutes les illusions.
    • The soul does not give itself up to despair until it has exhaused all illusions.
      • Chapter I: Blotter, Blabber
  • On prend la charrette pour la République et on laisse l’Auvergnat à la monarchie.
    • We take the cart for the republic and we leave the Auvergnat to the monarchy.
      • Chapter IV: The Excess of Gavroche's Zeal
      • Gavroche, leaving a note about a cart he has stolen for the barricades
  • Vous parlez gentiment. Vrai, on ne vous donnerait pas votre âge. Vous devriez vendre tous vos cheveux cent francs la pièce. Cela vous ferait cinq cents francs.
    • You talk genteelly. Really, nobody would guess your age. You ought to sell all your hairs at a hundred francs apiece. That would make you five hundred francs.
      • Chapter IV: The Excess of Gavroche's Zeal
      • Gavroche talking to the National Guard
  • Se sauver par ce qui vous a perdu, c’est là le chef-d’œuvre des hommes forts.
    • To save yourself by means of that which has ruined you is the masterpiece of great men.
      • Chapter IV: The Excess of Gavroche's Zeal


Book I - The War Between Four Walls

  • Jamais on ne me voit avec des habits chamarrés d’or et de pierreries; je laisse ce faux éclat aux âmes mal organisées.
    • Never am I seen with coats bedizened with gold and gems; I leave this false splendour to badly organized minds.
      • Chapter XVI: How Brother Becomes Father
  • Les peuples comme les astres ont le droit d’éclipse. Et tout est bien, pourvu que la lumière revienne et que l’éclipse ne dégénère pas en nuit. Aube et résurrection sont synonymes. La réapparition de la lumière est identique à la persistance du moi.
    • A people, like a star, has the right of eclipse. And all is well, provided the light return and the eclipse does not degenerate into night. Dawn and resurrection are synonyms. The reappearance of the light is identical with the persistence of the Me.
      • Chapter XX: The Dead are Right and the Living are not Wrong
      • Charles E. Wilbour translation (1862)
    • Peoples, like planets, possess the right to an eclipse. And all is well, provided that the light returns and that the eclipse does not degenerate into night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is identical with the persistence of the I.
      • Isabel F. Hapgood translation (1887)
    • Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.
      • Norman Denny translation (1976)
    • A people, like a star, has the right of eclipse. And all is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not degenerate into night. Dawn and resurrection are synonyms. The reappearance of the light is identical with the persistence of the self.
      • Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee translation, based upon that of Wilbour. (1987)
  • Hélas! être monté, cela n’empêche pas de tomber. On voit ceci dans l’histoire plus souvent qu’on ne voudrait.
    • Alas! to have risen does not prevent falling. We see this in history oftener than we would wish.
      • Chapter XX: The Dead are Right and the Living are not Wrong
  • Il y a des gens qui observent les règles de l’honneur comme on observe les étoiles, de très loin.
    • There are people who observe the rules of honour as we observe the stars, from afar off.
      • Chapter XXI: The Heroes
  • Les assaillants avaient le nombre; les insurgés avaient la position. Ils étaient au haut d’une muraille, et ils foudroyaient à bout portant les soldats trébuchant dans les morts et les blessés et empêtrés dans l’escarpement. Cette barricade, construite comme elle l’était et admirablement contrebutée, était vraiment une de ces situations où une poignée d’hommes tient en échec une légion.
    • The assailants had the numbers; the insurgents the position. They were on the top of a wall, and they shot down the soldiers at the muzzles of their muskets, as they stumbled over the dead and wounded and became entangled in the escarpment. This barricade, built as it was, and admirably supported, was really one of those positions in which a handful of men hold a legion in check.
      • Chapter XXI: The Heroes
  • Les assauts se succédèrent. L’horreur alla grandissant.
    • There was assault after assault. The horror continued to increase.
      • Chapter XXI: The Heroes
  • Pour se faire une idée de cette lutte, il faudrait se figurer le feu mis à un tas de courages terribles, et qu’on regarde l’incendie. Ce n’était pas un combat, c’était le dedans d’une fournaise; les bouches y respiraient de la flamme; les visages y étaient extraordinaires, la forme humaine y semblait impossible, les combattants y flamboyaient, et c’était formidable de voir aller et venir dans cette fumée rouge ces salamandres de la mêlée. Les scènes successives et simultanées de cette tuerie grandiose, nous renonçons à les peindre.
    • To form an idea of this struggle, imagine fire applied to a mass of terrible valour, and that you are witnessing the conflagration. It was not a combat, it was the interior of a furnace; there mouths breathed flame; there faces were wonderful. There the human form seemed impossible, the combatants flashed flames, and it was terrible to see going and coming in that lurid smoke these salamanders of the fray. The successive and simultaneous scenes of this grand slaughter, we decline to paint.
      • Chapter XXI: The Heroes
  • Que l’un combatte pour son drapeau, et que l’autre combatte pour son idéal, et qu’ils s’imaginent tous les deux combattre pour la patrie; la lutte sera colossale.
    • Let the one fight for his flag, and the other for his ideal, and let them both imagine that they are fighting for the country; the strife will be colossal...
      • Chapter XXI: The Heroes
  • On veut mourir pourvu qu’on tue.
    • They are willing to die, provided they kill.
      • Chapter XXII: Foot to Foot

Book II - The Intestine of the Leviatha

  • La philosophie est le microscope de la pensée.
    • Philosophy is the microscope of thought.
      • Chapter II: Ancient History of the Sewer

Book III - Mire, But Soul

  • Jean Valjean était tombé d’un cercle de l’enfer dans l’autre.
    • Jean Valjean had fallen from one circle of Hell to another.
      • Chapter I: The Cloaca and its Surprises
  • La pupille se dilate dans la nuit et finit par y trouver du jour, de même que l’âme se dilate dans le malheur et finit par y trouver Dieu.
    • The pupil dilates in the night, and at last finds day in it, even as the soul dilates in misfortune, and at last finds God in it.
      • Chapter I: The Cloaca and its Surprises
  • Quand un homme habillé par l’État poursuit un homme en guenilles, c’est afin d’en faire aussi un homme habillé par l’État. Seulement la couleur est toute la question. Être habillé de bleu, c’est glorieux; être habillé de rouge, c’est désagréable.
    • When a man clad by the state pursues a man in rags, it is in order to make of him also a man clad by the state. Only the colour is the whole question. To be clad in blue is glorious; to be clad in red is disagreeable.
      • Chapter III: The Man Spun

Book IX - Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn

Ch. IV - A Bottle Of Ink Which Serves Only To Whiten
  • Vous êtes un infâme! vous êtes un menteur, un calomniateur, un scélérat. Vous veniez accuser cet homme, vous l’avez justifié; vous vouliez le perdre, vous n’avez réussi qu’à le glorifier. Et c’est vous qui êtes un voleur! Et c’est vous qui êtes un assassin! Je vous ai vu, Thénardier Jondrette, dans ce bouge du boulevard de l’Hôpital. J’en sais assez sur vous pour vous envoyer au bagne, et plus loin même, si je voulais.
    • You are a wretch! you are a liar, a slanderer, a scoundrel. You came to accuse this man, you have justified him; you wanted to destroy him, you have succeeded only in glorifying him. And it is you who are a robber! and it is you who are an assassin! I saw you Thenardier, Jondrette, in that den on the Boulevard de l'Hopital. I know enough about you to send you to the galleys, and further even, if I wished.
      • Marius to Thenardier
Ch. V - Night Behind Which Is Dawn
  • Cosette, entends-tu? il en est là ! il me demande pardon. Et sais-tu ce qu’il m’a fait, Cosette? Il m’a sauvé la vie. Il a fait plus. Il t’a donnée à moi. Et après m’avoir sauvé et après t’avoir donnée à moi, Cosette, qu’a-t-il fait de lui-même? il s’est sacrifié. Voilà l’homme. Et, à moi l’ingrat, à moi l’oublieux, à moi l’impitoyable, à moi le coupable, il me dit: Merci! Cosette, toute ma vie passée aux pieds de cet homme, ce sera trop peu. Cette barricade, cet égout, cette fournaise, ce cloaque, il a tout traversé pour moi, pour toi, Cosette! Il m’a emporté à travers toutes les morts qu’il écartait de moi et qu’il acceptait pour lui. Tous les courages, toutes les vertus, tous les héroïsmes, toutes les saintetés, il les a! Cosette, cet homme-là, c’est l’ange!

    Chut! chut! dit tout bas Jean Valjean. Pourquoi dire tout cela?

    Mais vous! s’écria Marius avec une colère où il y avait de la vénération, pourquoi ne l’avez-vous pas dit? C’est votre faute aussi. Vous sauvez la vie aux gens, et vous le leur cachez! Vous faites plus, sous prétexte de vous démasquer, vous vous calomniez. C’est affreux... La vérité, c’est toute la vérité; et vous ne l’avez pas dite. Vous étiez monsieur Madeleine, pourquoi ne pas l’avoir dit? Vous aviez sauvé Javert, pourquoi ne pas l’avoir dit? Je vous devais la vie, pourquoi ne pas l’avoir dit?

    • Cosette, do you hear? that is the way with him! he begs my pardon, and do you know what he has done for me, Cosette? he has saved my life. He has done more. He has given you to me. And, after having saved me, and after having given you to me, Cosette, what did he do with himself? he sacrificed himself. There is the man. And, to me the ungrateful, to me the forgetful, to me the pitiless, to me the guilty, he says: Thanks! Cosette, my whole life passed at the feet of this man would be too little. That barricade, that sewer, that furnace, that cloaca, he went through everything for me, for you, Cosette! He bore me through death in every form which he put aside from me, and which he accepted for himself. All courage, all virtue, all heroism, all sanctity, he has it all, Cosette, that man is an angel!

      "Hush! hush!" said Jean Valjean in a whisper. "Why tell all that?"

      "Why have not you told it? It is your fault, too. You save people's lives, and you hide it from them! You do more, under pretence of unmasking yourself, you calumniate, yourself. It is frightful... The truth is the whole truth; and you did not tell it. You were Monsieur Madeleine, why not have said so? You had saved Javert, why not have said so? I owe my life to you! why not have said so?"

  • Oh oui, défends-moi de mourir. Qui sait? j’obéirai peut-être. J’étais en train de mourir quand vous êtes arrivés. Cela m’a arrêté, il m’a semblé que je renaissais.
    • Oh, yes, forbid me to die. Who knows? I shall obey perhaps. I was just dying when you came. That stopped me, it seemed to me that I was born again.
  • La mort est un bon arrangement. Dieu sait mieux que nous ce qu’il nous faut. Que vous soyez heureux, que monsieur Pontmercy ait Cosette, que la jeunesse épouse le matin, qu’il y ait autour de vous, mes enfants, des lilas et des rossignols, que votre vie soit une belle pelouse avec du soleil, que tous les enchantements du ciel vous remplissent l’âme, et maintenant, moi qui ne suis bon à rien, que je meure, il est sûr que tout cela est bien. Voyez-vous, soyons raisonnables, il n’y a plus rien de possible maintenant, je sens tout à fait que c’est fini.
    • Death is a good arrangement. God knows better than we do what we need. That you are happy, that Monsieur Pontmercy has Cosette, that youth espouses morning, that there are about you, my children, lilacs and nightingales, that your life is a beautiful lawn in the sunshine, that all the enchantments of heaven fill your souls, and now, that I who am good for nothing, that I die; surely all this is well. Look you, be reasonable, there is nothing else possible now, I am sure that it is all over.
  • Ce n’est rien de mourir; c’est affreux de ne pas vivre.
    • It is nothing to die; it is horrible not to live.
  • J’écrivais tout à l’heure à Cosette. Elle trouvera ma lettre. C’est à elle que je lègue les deux chandeliers qui sont sur la cheminée. Ils sont en argent; mais pour moi ils sont en or, ils sont en diamant; ils changent les chandelles qu’on y met, en cierges. Je ne sais pas si celui qui me les a donnés est content de moi làhaut. J’ai fait ce que j’ai pu.
    • I was writing just now to Cosette. She will find my letter. To her I bequeath the two candlesticks which are on the mantel. They are silver; but to me they are gold, they are diamond; they change the candles which are put into them, into consecrated tapers. I do not know whether he who gave them to me is satisfied with me in heaven. I have done what I could.
  • Les forêts où l’on a passé avec son enfant, les arbres où l’on s’est promené, les couvents où l’on s’est caché, les jeux, les bons rires de l’enfance, c’est de l’ombre. Je m’étais imaginé que tout cela m’appartenait. Voilà où était ma bêtise. Ces Thénardier ont été méchants. Il faut leur pardonner. Cosette, voici le moment venu de te dire le nom de ta mère. Elle s’appelait Fantine. Retiens ce nom-là: — Fantine. Mets-toi à genoux toutes les fois que tu le prononceras. Elle a bien souffert. Elle t’a bien aimée. Elle a eu en malheur tout ce que tu as en bonheur. Ce sont les partages de Dieu. Il est là-haut, il nous voit tous, et il sait ce qu’il fait au milieu de ses grandes étoiles. Je vais donc m’en aller, mes enfants. Aimez-vous bien toujours. Il n’y a guère autre chose que cela dans le monde: s’aimer.
    • The forests through which we have passed with our child, the trees under which we have walked, the convents in which we have hidden, the games, the free laughter of childhood, all is in shadow. I imagined that all that belonged to me. There was my folly. Those Thenardiers were wicked. We must forgive them. Cosette, the time has come to tell of your mother. Her name was Fantine. Remember that name: Fantine. Fall on your knees whenever you pronounce it. She suffered much. And loved you much. Her measure of unhappiness was as full as yours of happiness. Such are the distributions of God. He is on high, he sees us all, and he knows what he does in the midst of his great stars. So I am going away, my children. Love each other dearly always. There is scarcely anything else in the world but that: to love one another.
  • La nuit était sans étoiles et profondément obscure. Sans doute, dans l’ombre, quelque ange immense était debout, les ailes déployées, attendant l’âme.
    • The night was starless and very dark. Without doubt, in the gloom some mighty angel was standing, with outstretched wings, awaiting the soul.
Chapter VI - Grass Hides And Rain Blots Out
  • Cette pierre est toute nue. On n’a songé en la taillant qu’au nécessaire de la tombe, et l’on n’a pris d’autre soin que de faire cette pierre assez longue et assez étroite pour couvrir un homme.

    On n’y lit aucun nom.

    • This stone is entirely blank. The only thought in cutting it was of the essentials of the grave, and there was no other care than to make this stone long enough and narrow enough to cover a man.
      No name can be read there.
  • Il dort. Quoique le sort fût pour lui bien étrange,
    Il vivait. Il mourut quand il n’eut plus son ange,
    La chose simplement d’elle-même arriva,
    Comme la nuit se fait lorsque le jour s’en va.
    • He sleeps. Although his fate was very strange,
      He lived. He died when he had no longer his angel.
      The thing came to pass simply,
      Of itself, as the night comes when day is gone.
      • These final lines are a statement once pencilled on the stone of Valjean's grave.
        The Isabel F. Hapgood translation is here used; the Wilbour edition leaves the verses untranslated.
    • He sleeps; although so much he was denied,
      He lived.And when his dear love left him, died.
      It happened of itself, in the calm way
      That in the evening night-time follows day.
      • Norman Denny translation
    • He is asleep. Though his mettle was sorely tried,
      He lived, and when he lost his angel, died.
      It happened calmly, on its own,
      The way night comes when day is done.
      • Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee translation, based on the Charles E. Wilbour translation

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Les Misérables
by Victor Hugo, translated by Isabel F. Hapgood
Les Misérables (1862), one of the most well known novels of the 19th century, follows the lives and interactions of several French characters over a twenty year period in the early 19th century that includes the Napoleonic wars and subsequent decades. Principally focusing on the struggles of the protagonist—ex-convict Jean Valjean—to redeem himself through good works, the novel examines the impact of Valjean's actions as social commentary.
Excerpted from Les Misérables on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Translated from the original French by Isabel F. Hapgood

Volume I ("Fantine")

Volume II ("Cosette")

Volume III ("Marius")

Volume IV ("Saint Denis")

Volume V ("Jean Valjean")

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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