Les Misérables

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862). Twenty years in the writing, this masterpiece of melodrama sweeps across unspeakable poverty, assumed identities, the sewers of Paris, and the battle of Waterloo while also making time for love, politics, architecture, history, and Hugo’s burning invective against social inequities. The novel’s central struggle—between good-hearted prison escapee Jean Valjean and the indefatigable, by-the-book detective Javert—is about the need to temper the law with mercy and redemption, qualities often sorely lacking in Hugo’s time.

Total Points: 1 (CB 1)