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One of the most widely read novels of all time, Les Misérables was the crowning literary achievement of Victor Hugo's career. An enormous melodrama set against the background of political upheaval in France following the rule of Napoleon I, the novel tells the story of the peasant Jean Valjean—unjustly imprisoned and hounded by his nemesis, the magnificently realised police detective Javert. A monumental classic dedicated to the oppressed, Les Misérables captures the entirety of life in nineteenth-century France.