|Narrated By:||Frederick Davidson|
|Date:||24 April 2008|
Set in the Parisian underworld and plotted like a detective story, Les Mis'rables follows the adventures of Jean Valjean, originally an honest peasant, who has been imprisoned for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving family. A hardened criminal upon his release, he eventually reforms, becoming a successful industrialist and town mayor. Despite this, Valjean is haunted by an impulsive former crime and is pursued relentlessly by the police inspector Javert.
Hugo describes early nineteenth-century France with a sweeping power that gives his novel epic stature. Among the most famous chapters are an account of the battle of Waterloo and a description of Valjean's flight through the Paris sewers.
Hugo was at the forefront of the romantic literary movement with his play Cromwell and drama Hernani. Many of his works have inspired music, both during his lifetime and after his death, including the musicals Notre-Dame de Paris and Les Misérables. He produced more than 4,000 drawings in his lifetime, and campaigned for social causes such as the abolition of capital punishment.
Though a committed royalist when he was young, Hugo's views changed as the decades passed, and he became a passionate supporter of republicanism; his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and the artistic trends of his time. He is buried in the Panthéon in Paris. His legacy has been honoured in many ways, including his portrait being placed on French currency.