Fact: Les Misérables was one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century and Tolstoy called it “the greatest of all novels.” The novel took seventeen years to complete. The first version of the manuscript was written in Paris between 1845 and 1848–Les Miséres–and the definitive version was written in Guernsey between 1860 and 1862.

The book lives on and new generations enjoy plays, musicals and movies based on Les Misérables. In The Temptation of the Impossible, one of the world’s great novelists, Mario Vargas Llosa, helps us to appreciate the incredible ambition, power, and beauty of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece and, in the process, presents a humane vision of fiction as an alternative reality that can help us imagine a different and better world.

We invite you to read the introduction:

The Temptation of the Impossible:
Victor Hugo and Les Misérables

by Mario Vargas Llosa, the 2010 Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Translated by John King