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Les Misérables

by Victor Hugo

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Where and when does Les Misérables take place?

Les Misérables takes place in France, mainly in Paris, from 1815–1832. This was called the post-Napoleonic era.

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Victor Hugo’s book Les Misérables is set in France between the years 1815 and 1832. The events of the story take place in many parts of the country, notably in the capital city of Paris but also in places like Montreuil-sur-Mer, Arras, Digne, and Toulon. Hugo set out to realistically depict the impoverished communities of the country rather than the cliché glamour of the wealthy people in France. This allowed him to comment on the complicated socioeconomic issues the country was facing during this period.

This time period in France is referred to as the post-Napoleonic era. Often, when people view the popular musical or film adaptations of this story, they confuse the events at the barricades with the French Revolution. But the French Revolution occurred in 1789, which is several years before the book takes place. In fact, Jean Valjean did not steal the bread for his family and go to prison until 1796. The rebellion in the book is actually the June Rebellion of 1832, also called the Paris Uprising of 1832. The novel culminates with this event, depicting the uproar that occurred after the death of Jean Maximilien Lamarque, a liberal politician who died that year from cholera.

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