Get Adobe Flash player

Miceli, Sergio
(ed. and transl. by Marco Alunno)


to the content prev next to the end

1.0. Introduction. Sources and adaptations19 of Les Misérables in paper-books, video-books and audio-books20

19 Although the following may disclose some of the topics I will deal with in the present writing, I suggest the reading of Delphine Gleizes, De l’œuvre de Victor Hugo à ses adaptations: une histoire de filiations [2004]. This text can be downloaded at (last accessed September 2015).

20 There is no need to explain what a paper-book is. Instead, I remind the reader that a video-book is a book whose text is meant to be displayed on a specific electronic device, the screen of a PC/Man or even a tv-set. An audio-book can be of two kinds: the simplest form consists of a series of recordings in separate MP3 files burned on one or more CDs; the other kind, instead, displays the text of the book so that it can be read by a synthesized voice, which nowadays has finally achieved a pretty good speaking qualities. Such a function is carried out by the iOS of a PC/Surface (i.e. Windows 8.5/10) or a Mac/iPad (OS X ‘El Capitan’ or iOS 9).

I remind those who skipped Part I, that in Part II I will be speaking about non-musical (but not without music altogether) cinema and television adaptations of Les Misérables. Part III will continue on cinema and, at the end, after an appendix on animated films, there will be a series of short chapters devoted to different media such as comics, videogames, karaoke, flash-mobs and parodies. A look to the relationship between the music publishing world and Les Misérables will close Part III. Part IV, the last one, will specifically explore some live international performances of Les Misérables, two stage productions prepared for the 10th (1985) and the 25th (2010) anniversary of the English premiere of the theater musical, and, eventually, the musical movie directed by Tom Hopper in 2012.

However, the starting point of my research will be the printed documentation. In fact, at the end of Part IV, the reader will find a bibliography reporting the several editions of the novel I will refer to throughout this essay. Nevertheless, I deemed necessary to list them also in this chapter, but, be it clear, I am not willing to delve into a field whose rules I can grasp but that I do not actually feel mine. Thus, I will leave literary critique to the specialists and I am going to start with a short list of literary editions inspired by Hugo’s novel.

1935, Jean Val Jean, a condensed retelling by Solomon Cleaver.

1995, Cosette: The Sequel to Les Misérables by Laura Kalpakian (New York: Harper Collins Publishers).

2001, two sequels by François Cérésa: Cosette, ou Le temps des Illusions and Marius ou le fugitif. Cérésa’s initiative eventually went to court.

2013, Barricades: The Journey of Javert, a novel by C. A. Shilton based on the early life of Javert.

2014, A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher, a novel based on the early life of Eponine.21

Source: Archive S. M., Florence (except the first book) and, USA.

21 Wikipedia contributors, "Adaptations of Les Misérables", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (accessed March 16, 2015).

In my and others’ opinion, literary elaborations after 1985 have been influenced by the many theater versions of the musical (except for the original adaptation that was too old to have any impact), one example being Kalpakian’s novel of 1985 for which that influence was quite consistent. Shilton’s book on Javert published in 2013 (nearly 300 pages) seemed to me one of the most interesting, possibly because it is based on the most ‘negative’ character (or, more specifically, the most hostile to Valjean) of Hugo’s novel. However, Thénardier should occupy that position on a scale of wickedness, but this is my personal impression and it is not based on an analytic method that could make it more trustworthy, if not objective. After all, many people and Hugo himself understood pretty soon that Les Misérables would have been a worldwide success, one that would even yield multimedia adaptations, like those of the last 20 years across the second and third millennium. On October 18, 1862, in a letter to the Luigi Daelli, first publisher of the Italian translation of Les Misérables, Hugo wrote:

Vous avez raison, monsieur, quand vuos me dites que le livre Les Misérables est écrit pour tous les peuples. Je ne sais s’il serà lu par tous, mais je l’ai écrit par tous. Il s’adresse à l’Angleterre autant qu’à l’Espagne, à l’Italie autant qu’à la France, à L’Allemagne autant qu’à l’Irlande.22

22 Victor Hugo, Dossier in Les Misérables, 1985, p. 1949.
“You are right, Sir, when you say that the book Les Misérables has been written for everyone. I do not know whether it will be read by everyone, but I wrote it for everyone. It speaks to England as well as to Spain, to Italy as well as to France, to Germany as well as to Ireland.” [ET]

In short, my reference readings and listenings have been: a full, paper edition of the novel in the original language; two video-books, one of which in English translation (for Apple iPad, Android tablet, Kindle or Apple Macintosh and PC); a shorten paper version; a full and a partial MP3 audio-book versions. I also partially consulted other paper editions of the novel in order to make specific comparisons.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables [full edition in 2 volumes – original language edition – my main reference paper edition], preface and annotations by Guy Rosa, commentaries by Nicole Savy, Les Livres de Poches Classiques, Paris: Librairie Générale Française, 1985, 991 pp. (Volume I) – 1048 pp.(Volume II).
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

There are many other full paper editions of the novel as well as video-book versions. A full edition in 5 volumes can even be freely downloaded from Apple iBook and Microsoft Italian Store (the latter offers a wide range of editions, except for the DVDs’ section, which has only the main titles). In the Google Play ‘books’ section (Kindle and Android) there are barely full editions of the novel in original language, but there are many in English translations. Each one costs a few Euro cents (as of Summer 2015).

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables [full video-book edition in 5 volumes]. The end of Volume I, Fantine, corresponds to page 424 of the reference paper edition. No edition date and place [1985]. Freely Available in Apple iTunes – iBook Store, online edition [public domain].
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.
YouTube (several consultations in 2013-2015).


4 pp.


348 KB


415 pp.


319 KB


367 pp.


308 KB


523 pp.

L’Idylle rue Plumet et L’Épopée rue Saint-Denis

408 KB


451 pp.

Jean Valjean

349 KB

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, full video-book edition in 5 volumes. Freely available in Apple iTunes - iBook Stores, online edition. No edition date and place [public domain].
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

Tome 1

810 pp.

1,2 MB

Tome 2

724 pp.

1,1 MB

Tome 3

655 pp.

1,0 MB

Tome 4

914 pp.

1.4 MB

Tome 5

735 pp.

1,1 MB

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables. (Eng. trans. Isabel Florence Hapgood, 1887) - Illustrated from Early Print Editions in New York: Thomas Y. Crowell - Unabridged, English Edition in Five Tomes - London: Carefully Crafted Classics®, 2012 (last update November 17, 2014) - Produced by Judith Boss and David Widger, Kindle format [converted to Apple iBook with Amazon Whispernet or other formats], 6,2 MB.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, abbr. ed. by Marie-Hélène Sabard, Classiques abrégés, several illustrators, [paper edition] Paris: l’école des loisirs, 1996, 321 pp.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

I also consulted the audio-books sections and the podcasts in Apple iTunes Store, Amazon Italia and Microsoft Store Italia. In Apple iTunes I found two incomplete editions in original language, a few full editions in English and Spanish translation, and just one in each of the following languages: Russian, Polish, Czech, Dutch and Thai. Some of these versions are annoyingly dramatized (prevalently due to the actors’ and directors’ radio inexperience). Instead, there are many excerpts available. In order to find full audio-book editions one must consult Amazon France that sells them on CD, separately or in one collection. Otherwise, one can visit, for example, the website (, last accessed January 2015) where a full version of public domain, already partially available on YouTube, can be freely downloaded.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, online edition, Livres Audio in 11 parts. MP3, female voice “Pomme,” short intros, intermezzos and background music by various authors (from J. S. Bach to Ferruccio Busoni), Literature, 2009 [public domain]. This frequently downloaded edition comes with many illustrations.23 No edition date and place.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.
YouTube (several consultations in 2013-2015).



Tome 1, Livres 1-3 + 4-8

618,2 + 632,2 MB



Tome 2, Livres 1-4 + 5-8

580,1 + 496,1 MB



Tome 3, Livres 1-5 + 6-8

504,8 + 449,2 MB


L’Idylle rue Plumet et L’Épopée rue Saint-Denis

Tome 4, Livres [1-5]24 + 6-10 + 11-15

521,4 + 352,0 MB


Jean Valjean

Tome 5, Livres 1-3 + 4-9

579,5 + 574,3 MB

23 Also in the Gutenberg Project’s website it is possible to download a free, full version of the novel in 5 volumes and in the following formats: HTML, EPUB (with or without images), Kindle (with or without images), and simple UTF-8 text ( It is worth to remark that this English translation is by Isabel Florence Hapgood from an 1887 edition (but the first English translation of the novel dates back to 1862). Several consultations in 2014-2015.

24 For some reason, files 1 through 5 of Volume IV are not downloaded with the whole book. This way it makes 11 parts total. Another site where to download a free copy of this edition (and get access to the video version) is Several consultations in 2015.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, online edition convertible in MP3/MP4. From Book 1, Chap. 1: Monsieur Myriel (14.4.15) to Book 8, Chap. 5: Tombeau convenable (23.12.14), 75 files total. This version entirely corresponds to the reference paper edition as well. Male voice “Vivier.” Free on Apple iTunes - Podcast [public domain]. No edition date and place. Although incomplete, this is another frequently downloaded version (see previous entry), also equipped with several illustrations.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

Other paper, video and audio editions of the book, whether online or on CD, whether or not abbreviated, have been consulted during the writing of this essay. I will mention at least five of them:

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Extraits (Texte conforme à l'édition originale), Paris: Hachette 2005.
This is a very abridged, but also lavishly illustrated edition, with reproductions of XIX century engravings and still frames. It carries commentaries, texts, documents and theme-based routes. This edition has clearly a pedagogical intention (in fact, several audio-books, not consulted here, exist which are meant to be used for teaching French).

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, CD Audio, Paris: CIDEB, n.d. Full, original language edition in five volumes.

Victor Hugo, I Miserabili, 5 audio-books in Italian translation.
Average reading time: 12h 35'.
Narrator: “Moro Silo".
N.p., “Letteratura ad alta voce,” Il Narratore S.r.l. 2010.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Unabridged Fiction, translated by Charles E. Wilbur.
Narrator: Frederick Davidson.
Total time (original subdivision): 57h 49'.
London: Blackstone Audio, Inc., 1996.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, BBC Radio, Full Cast Dramatization.
Full Audiobook MP4 (see Chap. 2).

Sources: except for the second entry, that I have only consulted, the other four are in the Archive S. M., Florence.
Several other audiovisual editions of public domain from different places; many of them in the Archive S. M., Florence.

to the content prev next to the end

Яндекс.Метрика Лицензия Creative Commons