Jump to content


Recommended Posts

I'm planning on reading this aloud with dd this school year. I plan to take the whole year to do it. However, a friend suggested I skip the "goat tripe" sections. She didn't get specific, so I'm a bit confused. I'm vaguely familiar with the story, but I've not read this book before. Are there sections of the book that should be skipped? If so, why? I don't particularly like abridging books, but I don't want to wade through "goat tripe" either.


Thoughts? (oh, am I'm SO excited for the movie to come out this December! And, Les Mis is touring and will be near me this fall. I may even shell out $$ for ticket to that, too!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My daughter and I read this in 9th grade (independently); we're huge Les Mis fans. Oddly enough, I don't recall mentions of goat tripe (perhaps I've blocked the memory?); however, I do recall that there was a section on the sewers that was lengthy.


This was the first book that we read that really made us aware of the fact that a translator can make a significant difference. The first translation we read was like wading through mud; the book dragged and dragged. Then we tried the translation by Norman Denny which made the book so much more enjoyable.


I hope that you and your daughter enjoy the book.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's been a few years since I read Les Mis (which, btw, was wonderful). It seemed that a few sections were "unnecessarily"(my opinion) lengthy but I don't remember a "goat tripe" one. I read the whole book except for an long discussion on the history of French politics (that was my take on what was written). I didn't mind the sewer story, or several of the other major asides.


I really enjoyed the musical too but it certainly helped knowing the details of the story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are several current in-print version that "edit" the story; that is, they take out what is deemed one or two diversions from the story. These are published in the back of the book as appendices. Perhaps those sections are what your friends is referring to as "goat tripe"?


I would tell you which copies these are, but I moved this week, and I haven't gotten up the courage to unpack the 45 book boxes sitting in my new living room!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's been a while since I read it, but I do recall some lengthy explanations of the history of the...Benedictine order? Not sure. At any rate, I was determined to read every word (loved the soundtrack from the musical so much and was going to see it performed live) But even forcing myself to look at the words during that long passage, it didn't take it in. I found myself just sort of mechanically moving my eyes across the pages to get to the next part with characters. :) It's an amazing story though. Definitely worth a read, even if you have to skip a few bits here and there.


Good luck!

Edited by Suzannah
for clarity
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read it as 50 year old man, and my favorite translation is this one by Lee Fahnestock and Norman Macafee:




This the unabridged version, which I prefer, in contrast to the abridged version by Norman Denny linked above that omits some 250 pages.


The sewers are an integral part of the story, but if that puts you off I guess you could skip the description of the history of their construction.


As you probably know, the hero makes his escape from the pursuing police inspector through those sewers while carrying on his back, the unconscious and wounded young radical Marius who is in love reciprocally with his own adopted daughter. But he never reveals this to the young man when he regains consciousness, merely delivering him to his happy destiny,.


Much later, when all are recovered, the young newlyweds gradually ease the invalid old man out of their home as an inconvenient and unglamorous lodger. But when a villainous scummy character comes to extort money from the young man by revealing what he assumes is evidence of the old man's crime of disposal of a murdered corpse in the sewers, Marius realizes he was the beneficiary of the self sacrificing old man's goodness.



ahhh!! an old man's ideal story,....This spoiler will not diminish its effect one whit, when you read it in the words of hugo, even translated. Thousands of mourners crowded the streets of Paris when this hugely popular author died.


For those of strong constitution I attach the Classics comics cover I read as a child, featuring, you guessed it, the sewers scene.



Edited by mathwonk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I suspect that your friend is referring to the many lengthy diversions in the book. The 50 page section on the sewers of Paris for instance.


There are good abridged versions out there (assuming of course that you are okay with abridgments in general).


I think the reason to go abridged is to cover a lengthy book in less time so you can cover something else.


You know how fast your child can read and still get at the meat of a book. What other works do you wish to cover? Do a time estimate on each book and then determine what to do about abridgment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...