In the vaulted gothic towers of Notre-Dame lives Quasimidi, the hunchbacked bell-ringer. Micked and shunned for his appearance, he is pitied only by Esmeralda, a beautiful gypsy dancer to whom he becomes completely devoted. Esmeralda, however, has also attracted the attention of the sinister archdeacon Claude Frollo, and when she rejects his lecherous approaches, Frollo hatches a plot to destroy her, which only Quasimido can prevent. Victor Hugo's sensational, evocative novel brings life to the medieval Paris he loved, and mourns its passing in one of the greatest historical romances of the nineteenth century.
John Sturrock's clear, contemporary translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing it as a passionate novel of ideas, written in defence of Gothic architecture and of a burgeoning democracy, and demonstrating that an ugly exterior can conceal moral beauty. This revised edition also includes further reading and a chronology of Hugo's life.
A brilliant new translation by Christine Donougher of Victor Hugo's thrilling masterpiece, with an introduction by Robert Tombs. The Wretched (Les Misérables) is the basis for both the longest running musical on the West End and the highly-acclaimed recent film starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty.
Victor Hugo was born in Besançon, France in 1802. In 1822 he published his first collection of poetry and in the same year, he married his childhood friend, Adèle Foucher. In 1831 he published his most famous youthful novel, Notre-Dame de Paris. A royalist and conservative as a young man, Hugo later became a committed social democrat and was exiled from France as a result of his political activities. In 1862, he wrote his longest and greatest novel, The Wretched (Les Misérables). After his death in 1885, his body lay in state under the Arc de Triomphe before being buried in the Panthéon.
Christine Donougher is a freelance translator and editor. She has translated numerous books from French and Italian, and won the 1992 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for her translation of Sylvie Germain's The Book of Nights.
Robert Tombs is Professor of History at St John's College, Cambridge. His most recent book is That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, co-written with Isabelle Tombs.