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Thursday, 7 January 2016

Les Misérables

Victor Hugo began planning a major novel about social misery and injustice as early as the 1830s, but it would take many years for Les Misérables to be realized and the first part was finally published on March 30 1862.


Hugo based some of his characters on the lives of real people. Valjean was probably inspired by the former criminal Eugène François Vidocq, who became the founder and first director of the crime-detection Sûreté Nationale  Hugo probably used the story of Bienvenu de Miollis for the Bishop of Digne. (De Mollis was the bishop of Digne from 1805 to 1838.) The revolutionary leader Enjolras, was probably based on Louise Michel, a French anarchist.

Portrait of "Cosette" by Emile Bayard, from the original edition of Les Misérables (1862)
Les Misérables was published almost simultaneously in ten European languages and had poor reviews. "Vile and inept" wrote Charles Baudelaire, though he praised Hugo's success in focusing public attention on social problems,

Despite the poor reviews, Les Misérables was an almost immediate success. The first Parisian edition of 7,000 copies sold out within 24 hours. The book earned Hugo's publisher half  a million francs in its first six years.

All the officers in the US Confederate army were given copies of Les Misérables to carry with them at all times.

When Hugo was in Brussels on business in 1871, he was mobbed by a crowd of anti-revolutionary Belgians shouting ''Down with Victor Hugo! Down with Jean Valjean!''

Les Miserables has a sentence 823 words long, separated by 93 commas and 51 semicolons. It  is one of the longest sentences in the French language.

The English-language version of the Les Misérables musical opened in London on October 8, 1985.
The London production is the second longest-running musical in the world and the longest-running musical in the West End.


The Broadway production of the Les Misérables musical opened on March 12, 1987 and closed in 2003 after 6,680 performances. It is the fifth longest-running Broadway show in history. The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

Only three years after the original run closed, Les Misérables began a return to Broadway in November 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre for a limited run that was subsequently made open-ended. The revival closed in January 2008, but the show returned to Broadway in March 2014.


The 2012 movie of the Les Misérables musical, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway premiered in London 5 December 2012. It won three Academy Awards, for Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Supporting Actress for Hathaway

For the prison scenes in the movie version of the Les Misérables musical, Hugo Jackman achieved an ashen, gaunt look by depriving himself of water for 36 hours beforehand.

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