Further Reading

Victor Hugo’s other major works include the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, published in 1831, and the poetry collection Contemplations, released in 1856, which he wrote at about the same time as Les Miserables. Some critics consider Contemplations, written after the drowning death of his daughter, his best poetry.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, first published in 1866, tells the story of Raskolnikov, a man who commits a brutal murder and then cannot escape either his own conscience or the detective who pursues him.

Published in 1940, Native Son, a novel by Richard Wright, is the story of Bigger Thomas, a poor black boy raised in the Chicago slums. Wright describes how Bigger’s fear of white society, and its fear of him, turns him into a criminal.

In the Belly of the Beast is an insider’s account of prison life written by the controversial Jack Henry Abbott, a convict. Abbott was released after he published the book in 1991, at the urging of a group of writers including Norman Mailer. Shortly thereafter, he killed a man in a bar brawl and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Marie Henri Beyle Stendhal offers a detailed account of the battle of Waterloo in The Charterhouse of Parma, published in 1839. The main theme of this novel is the struggle of the individual against a conformist society.

Charles Baudelaire’s 1857 The Flowers of Evil is a collection of poems centered on life in Paris. One of the major poetry collections of the century, it bridged the Romantic and Modernist movements. Six of the poems that were considered too erotic and decadent were banned in France until 1949. Baudelaire was Hugo’s contemporary and often reviewed his work.

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