‘Les Misérables’, the Biggest Deal in Book History.

The most expensive novel to be produced was not “Harry Potter”. It isn’t modern. It isn’t short. It wasn’t originally written in English. It’s Les Misérables.

Remember this book was before the days of huge author contracts. The publisher Lacroix, took a chance, an unprecedence gamble and introduced to the world a masterpiece. He has to be congratulated on pulling it off single-handedly, outside the usual routines of publishing conglomerates.

Victor Hugo earned an unprecedented sum of 300,000 francs (approximately $3.8 million in today’s currency value) for an eight-year license to publish Les Misérables. It was a tremendous amount of money for that day and time, and since it entitled the publisher to own the work for only eight years, it remains the highest figure ever paid for a work of literature.

Les Misérables was published in 1862, but Hugo had started writing his fifteen-hundred-page “monster” novel seventeen years earlier, in 1845. Forced to abandon it by his political misfortune, he left the fledgling manuscript, which was almost destroyed by rioters, with his devoted mistress, who ushered it to safety. From there, Hugo wrote the bulk of the novel on Guernsey, only traveling to Belgium for the last pages, which he wrote in a hotel room overlooking the battlefield of Waterloo.

This is  a good example of it take years to create a literary masterpiece that survives years after the author passed away and most of them aren’t short.

Think of what we would have lost had Hugo written Les Misérables as the popular format used today. I doubt there would’ve been a musical created from the book. I am a firm believer that universal social issues still sell books today as they did in 1862.



Paris Review of Les Miserables

About unholypursuit

A. White, an award winning former librarian who is also long time member of Romantic Time and Publisher's Weekly. A. White has been writing for over fifteen years. She took classes in creative writing in college, specializing in ancient myths and legends. and at a local community center while living in Chicago. In college she won the national contest to verbally list every country in the world, it's capital and ingenious language. Her works are mainly horror, fantasy, extreme, and sci-fi as well as, as some may says, "the truly strange predicament and puzzling." Books that I've written are "Clash with the Immortals, and eleven others which are part of the "Unholy Pursuit saga,". She has been working on the Chronicles since 2007. She wished to complete them all before introducing them to public so the readers wouldn't have to for the continuation to be written. The ideas of the book come from classic literature such as whose work greatly influence the world world such as Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Euripides, Socrates, Hippocrates, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle and many more. The "Book of Enoch" influenced the usage of Azazael as a main character and love interest. I created the primary main character from the Chronicle of Saints. I wanted to show them as real flesh and blood with thoughts, desires and yearning as any human. Not as they are so often depicted. So I created one of my own to show her as a real human that everyone can relate to.
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2 Responses to ‘Les Misérables’, the Biggest Deal in Book History.

  1. Les Misérables means a lot to me- if it wasn’t for the musical, I never would have read the book


    • Then Victor Hugo accomplished his goal even a hundred and fifty years later. 🙂 The musical is a little different from the book but that’s expected.
      Yes, many people read a book after watching a musical or movie. Like a lot of people did look up or study the Battle of Thermopylae until watching the movie 300. The did not know the Battle of Thermopylae was based upon a real event.


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