Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is the most loved, most read and most adapted novel of the nineteenth century. Prize-winning biographer and translator David Bellos argues that it outshines even its most illustrious contemporaries — for War and Peace, Madame Bovary, Great Expectations, Crime and Punishment were all published within a few years. David Bellos will talk about his new book, The Novel of the Century (Particular Books, 2017), which brings to life the extraordinary story of how Victor Hugo managed to write his epic work despite a revolution, a coup d'état and political exile; how he pulled off an astonishing deal to get it published, and set it on course to become the novel that epitomises the grand sweep of history in the nineteenth century. This biography of a masterpiece insists that the moral and social message of Hugo's novel, its plea for a new sense of justice, is just as important for our century as it was for its own.
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