After 19 years of unjust imprisonment, Jean Valjean changes his name and sets out to restart his life and become a respected member of society.
Hugo's genius was for the creation of simple and recognizable myth. The huge success of Les Mis�rables as a didactic work on behalf of the poor and oppressed is due to his poetic and myth-enlarged view of human nature. --V. S. Pritchett It was Tolstoy who vindicated [Hugo's] early ambition by judging Les Mis�rables one of the world's great novels, if not the greatest... [His] ability to present the extremes of experience 'as they are' is, in the end, Hugo's great gift. --From the Introduction by Peter Washington