Les Miserables is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, that is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. In the English-speaking world, the novel is usually referred to by its original French title. However, several alternatives have been used, including The Miserables, The Wretched, The Miserable Ones, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, The Victims and The Dispossessed.
Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several characters, particularly the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption. Les Miserables examining the nature of law and grace, the novel elaborates upon the history of France, the architecture and urban design of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love.
Les Misérables has been popularized through numerous adaptations for the stage, television, and film, including a musical and a film adaptation of that musical. The appearance of the Miserables was highly anticipated and advertised. Critical reactions were diverse, but most of them were negative. Commercially, the work was a great success globally. A monumental classic and one of the most widely read novels in history, Les Miserables portrays the epic struggle between good and evil in the soul of one man: Jean Valjean.
In a world brutalized by poverty and ignorance, the ex-convict struggles to renew his life and reaffirm his humanity. But he is haunted, both by his seemingly inescapable past and the malignant shadow of the infamous police detective Javert. Rich in detail, packed with adventure, and filled with the sweep of human passions, Les Misérables is more than a literary masterpiece—it remains a powerful social document. Dedicated to the poor, the oppressed, and the misunderstood, this captivating novel captures the impossible societal layers—and the essence of life—as it truly existed in nineteenth-century France.