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History and "Les Miserables"

By December 28, 2012

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Historical Background of Les Miserables:

To truly appreciate the musical Les Miserables, a general understanding of France's historical timeline is warranted. When I first learned about the musical, I was in my teens. Looking at a poster of young men waving flags while standing atop a make-shift barricade, I assumed that the story was set during the French Revolution. But of course, I was quite wrong.

The story of Les Miz begins in 1815, more than two decades after the start of the French Revolution. According to The DK History of the World, the revolution began in 1789; it was "a deep-rooted revolt by many classes against the whole order of society." The impoverished were infuriated by their economic hardships, food shortages, and the callous attitudes upper class. (Who could forget Marie Antionette's infamous line about the public's lack of bread: "Let them eat cake"?) However, the lower classes were not the only angry voices.

Read more about the history behind Victor Hugo's novel (and the epic musical) Les Miserables.

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