This is a book every adolescent and young adult should read. It is a powerful and sensitive narrative, soul-shattering prose that will touch a young soul and change it forever. A young person will meet the misery of poverty and the misery of the soul which social inequality could easily bring upon human beings.
By the terrifying personal stories of some of his downcast and “miserable” characters, Hugo in fact argues that nobility and gentleness are not inbred human qualities, they should be taught and encouraged. Not only that, the author accuses society in assisting the downfall of the human soul, since by society inventions such as class division, inequality and oppression, the individual is humiliated and dragged to the bottoms of everyday existence, vividly described in the novel as the Parisian sewer, where “les miserables” dwell as if in a small community of their own.
Not all is despair and misery, though. We will see the noble rise of Jean Valgean – a former hard labour convict prisoner, who rose from the deepest darkness of ignorance and soul savagery to the high state of community and family leader.
Large and small stories are intertwined to build a magnificent and terrible panorama of life in a pre-revolution society.
© 2011 Mariya Koleva