Covering a 17 year period in France, from 1815 to 1832, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (The Miserable) was an astounding 510,000 word masterpiece when published in April of 1862. Hugo was a well known French poet and exile, for having called Emperor Napoleon III a traitor to the republic. Buoyed by a pre-publishing advertising campaign that would likely rival the Harry Potter mania, the novel quickly became translated into various languages and was successful throughout Europe.
The English version was extremely popular in the war torn United States, on both sides of the conflict. Although at 1200 pages the novel was rarely found in the pack of the average soldier, many civilians at home wrote that they were reading it while anxiously awaiting their loved ones return. Some Confederate soldiers pridefully modified the book’s title to describe themselves and the ragtag Army of Northern Virginia under their new leader, calling themselves “Lee’s Miserables”.