The Novel of the Century by David Bellos - an introduction

The novel of the century 250

The Novel of the Century brings to life the extraordinary story of how Victor Hugo managed to write his novel of the downtrodden despite a revolution, a coup d’état and political exile; how he pulled off the deal of the century to get it published, and set it on course to become the novel that epitomizes the grand sweep of history in the nineteenth century.

Placing a century of scholarship into narrative form and packed full of information about the background and design of Les Misérables, this biography of a masterpiece nonetheless insists that the moral and social message of Hugo’s ever-popular novel is just as important for our century as it was for its own.

Our library reading panel really connected with the Novel of the Century – here are some of their comments:

“It is written by an academic but aimed at the non-specialist- although I’m sure anyone studying Les Misérables would also benefit from reading the Novel of the Century.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed it and came away from it knowing so much more about the subject.”

“Brilliant if you’re interested in Hugo, Les Misérables or the wider history of literature in the nineteenth century.”

Download the exclusive extract and then write your group’s thoughts in the Book reviews section.

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