04 May 2014

Original Les Miserables Manuscript on Its Way to Melbourne

[The following is from the Herald Sun website]

The original 1862 manuscript of Les Miserables — considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century — is on its way to Melbourne.

Victor Hugo’s 945-page handwritten document will leave the Bibliotheque nationale de France for the first time to be exhibited exclusively at the State Library of Victoria.

Arts Minister Heidi Victoria said the loan to Melbourne was an act of enormous trust and generosity by the French people.

“It is also significant that the State Library of Victoria is the first institution that France has entrusted this great work to,” she said.

Victor Hugo’s handwritten manuscript. Source: Supplied

[Exhibition] curator Tim Fisher said the “talismanic object” would be the centrepiece of the library’s forthcoming exhibition 'Victor Hugo: Les Miserables From Page to Stage', which coincides with a new production of Les Miserables premiering at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

“Victor Hugo had this amazing way of writing, where he would write down one side of the page and then sometimes, years later, go back and make corrections or additions,” Mr Fisher said. “It’s not a neat object; it is full of humanity.”

Victor Hugo started working on Les Miserables in 1845, completing it 17 years later in Guernsey, where he had been living in exile after declaring Napoleon III a traitor to France.

Les Miserables has been translated into 20 languages, reprinted at least 248 times, been adapted for cinema at least 50 times, and is the foundation for three major musical adaptations.

'The Victor Hugo: Les Miserables From Page to Stage' exhibition also features the six quills Hugo used to write the manuscript, portraits of the author, photographs of scenes from various movie, theatre adaptations and comic books.

'Victor Hugo: Les Miserables From Page to Stage' opens at the State Library of Victoria on 17 July. Visit victorhugoexhibition.com.au

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