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Deeply shocking in its time, The Last Day of a Condemned Man is a profound and moving tale and a vital work of social commentary. A man vilified by society and condemned to death for his crime wakes every morning knowing that this day might be his last. With the hope for release his only comfort, he spends his hours recounting his life and the time before his imprisonment. Deeply shocking in its time, The Last Day of a Condemned Man is a profound and moving tale and a vital work of social commentary. A man vilified by society and condemned to death for his crime wakes every morning knowing that this day might be his last. With the hope for release his only comfort, he spends his hours recounting his life and the time before his imprisonment. But as the hours pass, he knows that he is powerless to change his fate. He must follow the path so many have trod before him—the path that leads to the guillotine.


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Deeply shocking in its time, The Last Day of a Condemned Man is a profound and moving tale and a vital work of social commentary. A man vilified by society and condemned to death for his crime wakes every morning knowing that this day might be his last. With the hope for release his only comfort, he spends his hours recounting his life and the time before his imprisonment. Deeply shocking in its time, The Last Day of a Condemned Man is a profound and moving tale and a vital work of social commentary. A man vilified by society and condemned to death for his crime wakes every morning knowing that this day might be his last. With the hope for release his only comfort, he spends his hours recounting his life and the time before his imprisonment. But as the hours pass, he knows that he is powerless to change his fate. He must follow the path so many have trod before him—the path that leads to the guillotine.

30 review for The Last Day of a Condemned Man

  1. 4 out of 5

    İntellecta

    The book "Last Day of a Condemned Man" is a plea against the death penalty. The author Victor Hugo wrote this little book two hundred years ago. In this ancient story, the author writes about the last hours of a man who was sentenced to death and muses about his life in the cell. The French national poet Victor Hugo reveals in his narrow novel the absurdity of the death penalty. The texts of the author are heavily involved in politics and the topic is absolutely up to date. At that time, Hugo wa The book "Last Day of a Condemned Man" is a plea against the death penalty. The author Victor Hugo wrote this little book two hundred years ago. In this ancient story, the author writes about the last hours of a man who was sentenced to death and muses about his life in the cell. The French national poet Victor Hugo reveals in his narrow novel the absurdity of the death penalty. The texts of the author are heavily involved in politics and the topic is absolutely up to date. At that time, Hugo was the only voice that rose against it. In general I missed additional information about the book to understand the origin and causes of the narrated story better. In my opinion his life before the conviction, and even the reasons for his accusation, would have been information that would have perfectly completed the book. Overall this book should have been read by anyone interested in literature and it is definitely recommendable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Le Dernier jour d'un condamné = The Lastday of a Condemned‬ Man and Other Prison Writings, Victor Hugo The Last Day of a Condemned Man is a short novel by Victor Hugo first published in 1829. The novel recounts the thoughts of a man condemned to die. Victor Hugo wrote this novel to express his feelings that the death penalty should be abolished. A man who has been condemned to death by the guillotine in 19th-century France writes down his cogitations, feelings and fears while awaiting his executio Le Dernier jour d'un condamné = The Lastday of a Condemned‬ Man and Other Prison Writings, Victor Hugo The Last Day of a Condemned Man is a short novel by Victor Hugo first published in 1829. The novel recounts the thoughts of a man condemned to die. Victor Hugo wrote this novel to express his feelings that the death penalty should be abolished. A man who has been condemned to death by the guillotine in 19th-century France writes down his cogitations, feelings and fears while awaiting his execution. His writing traces his change in psyche vis-a-vis the world outside the prison cell throughout his imprisonment, and describes his life in prison, everything from what his cell looks like to the personality of the prison priest. He does not betray his name or what he has done to the reader, though he vaguely hints that he has killed someone; just a nameless, faceless, meaningless victim. ... عنوانها: «آخرین روز یک محکوم»؛ «کلود ولگرد و آخرین روز یک محکوم»؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هشتم ماه اکتبر سال 1991میلادی عنوان: آخرین روز یک محکوم؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: اسفندیار کاویان؛ تهران، گوتنبرگ، 1333، در 78ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی - سده ی 19م عنوان: آخرین روز یک محکوم؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: عنایت الله شکیباپور؛ تهران، گوتنبرگ، 1334، در 120ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، سعیدی، چاپ دوم 1363؛ چاپ سوم 1368؛ در 112ص؛ عنوان: آخرین روز یک محکوم؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: محمد قاصی؛ تهران، گوتنبرگ، 1334، چاپ دوم 1337، در 164ص؛ عنوان: کلود ولگرد و آخرین روز یک محکوم؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: محمد قاصی؛ تهران، پیام، 1351، در 131ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، حلاج، 1362؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، هدایت، نور فاطمه، 1369؛ در 189ص؛ مترجم: محمد سعیدی؛ تهران، ؟، در 104ص؛ هشدار؛ اگر هنوز کتاب را نخوانده اید شاید نوشته هایم داستان را لو دهد رمانی از «ویکتور ماری هوگو (1802میلادی تا 1885میلادی)»، شاعر و نویسنده ی «فرانسوی»، که در سال 1829میلادی منتشر شد؛ «واپسین روز یک محکوم»؛ روایتی از واپسین روزهای زندگی یک محکوم به اعدام است، که تا واپسین لحظه های پیش از اجرای حکم را، حکایت می‌کند؛ «ویکتور هوگو» از «الغای محکومیت اعدام» جانبداری می‌کنند؛ بی‌شک، حسی که ایشان را برمی‌انگیزد، بسیار شریف است؛ اما رمان بیش از حد ادبی، کتابی، ‌و قراردادی نگاشته شده است؛ «زندانی»، آنگاه که به سمت سکوی اعدام می‌رود، احساس خود را، بر خوانشگر فاش می‌سازد، تا به گفته ی خود، راه فراری، بر اضطراب خویش بیابد، و به این امید است، که داستانش «روزی به کار دیگران آید»؛ او به زبان زرگری ویژه ی زندانیها توجه نشان می‌دهد، به کشف نوشته‌ های کنده شده روی دیوارهای سلولش، می‌پردازد، و از پیش، لحظه ی مرگ خویش را در خیالش، به تصویر میکشد «به نظرم می‌آید همینکه چشمانم بسته شود، روشنایی عظیمی خواهم دید، و ورطه‌ هایی از نور، که ذهن من تا بی‌نهایت در آن غوطه خواهد خورد»؛ همه ی اینها برای نمایش جنبه‌ های انسانی داستان هستند؛ چهره ی دیگر شخصیتها، همچون «ژاندارم» و «پپیتا»، از ژرفا و رنگ تهی هستند؛ دیدار «ماری» دختر محکوم، از پدرش، دل انگیز نگاشته شده، «هوگو» می‌گویند: «میخواسته از حق یک محکوم نامشخص دفاع کند، که در روزی نامشخص، و به دلیل جنایتی نامشخص، اعدام شده است»؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 15/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Brief novella by Victor Hugo designed to show the futility of the death penalty. It is a polemic and Hugo was a lifelong opponent; unusual in his day. France, at the time, used the guillotine and Hugo had witnessed several executions. The edition I read (one world classics), has the 1832 preface by Hugo, which is a closely argued appeal for abolition. The novella itself is, as the title suggests, a description of the last day of a man about to be executed, from the point of view of the man himse Brief novella by Victor Hugo designed to show the futility of the death penalty. It is a polemic and Hugo was a lifelong opponent; unusual in his day. France, at the time, used the guillotine and Hugo had witnessed several executions. The edition I read (one world classics), has the 1832 preface by Hugo, which is a closely argued appeal for abolition. The novella itself is, as the title suggests, a description of the last day of a man about to be executed, from the point of view of the man himself. It is a masterly piece of writing as Hugo builds the tension as the hour approaches. We know little of the man himself or his crime; it is implied he may have killed someone. We know he has a daughter (who is about 4) as she makes a brief appearance towards the end to say goodbye to her father. There are two other pieces of writing in this edition. A very brief satirical play set in a Paris salon of the time, where the denizens discuss the book; and a short story (Claude Gueux) which is an examination of the nature of prison life and its brutality. It is powerfully written and Hugo makes his case well; his continual campaigning on this issue led to several countries abolishing the death penalty. He takes a number of pot shots at French society at the time; pointing out that the death penalty is not the mark of a civilised (or Christian) society. The descriptive passages are outstanding as is the gradual development of the tension and fear of the prisoner; who is not reconciled to his death. Dostoevsky said this was; “Absolutely the most real and truthful of everything that Hugo wrote” It’s a timeless plea for compassion and humanity (it’s also a lot shorter than Les Mis!!) 4.5 stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alice Poon

    This is an eloquent and emotional appeal in fictionalized form for the abolition of the death penalty. The contents are grim and stark, yet the argument trenchant and convincing. Hugo's writing not only touches the heart, but also reaches into the depths of our conscience to rattle our complacency about man-made laws. Given the political upheavals prevailing at the time, it is not difficult to understand the author's particular hatred of political persecution by means of the guillotine. ".... duri This is an eloquent and emotional appeal in fictionalized form for the abolition of the death penalty. The contents are grim and stark, yet the argument trenchant and convincing. Hugo's writing not only touches the heart, but also reaches into the depths of our conscience to rattle our complacency about man-made laws. Given the political upheavals prevailing at the time, it is not difficult to understand the author's particular hatred of political persecution by means of the guillotine. ".... during any social crisis, of all scaffolds the political scaffold is the most monstrous, the most harmful, the most pernicious, the one that most needs eradicating." - (Preface) "Poor young man! How repulsive their so-called political necessities are! For the sake of an idea, a daydream, an abstract theory, this terrible reality called the guillotine!" - (Chapter 11) This single sentence in the Preface to the 1832 edition epitomizes the author's perspective on crime and punishment:- "(Society) should not punish to take revenge: it should correct in order to improve."

  5. 5 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Catching up with the classics

  6. 4 out of 5

    María Alcaide

    4,5*s

  7. 4 out of 5

    St Jerome

    I read this short novel with a sense of dread. I still have the book in my hand and keep looking at it, the message in it is tremendous, it has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Victor Hugo was only 27 when he wrote it and he has captured the feeling of this ‘condemned man’ entirely. Great writing but also a human message. HIGHLY RECOMMEND -*****

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven Walle

    I enjoyed this book very much. I shal give a full review at a later date. Be Blessed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Luís

    I stayed with my college and high school readings about Victor Hugo, and I never dared to go back to it until today. I kept an a priori of my school readings. So I'm getting back to it with this little book of about 200 pages and what a pleasure. What a beautiful pen, I had forgotten that the style of Victor Hugo was also accessible. I had the impression of being on a flight. I got carried away in this plea against the death penalty, a lovely text written from the condemned. For those who want to c I stayed with my college and high school readings about Victor Hugo, and I never dared to go back to it until today. I kept an a priori of my school readings. So I'm getting back to it with this little book of about 200 pages and what a pleasure. What a beautiful pen, I had forgotten that the style of Victor Hugo was also accessible. I had the impression of being on a flight. I got carried away in this plea against the death penalty, a lovely text written from the condemned. For those who want to come to terms with this author, this book is a good compromise.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Biblio Curious

    Quote from Dostoevsky on the back of the book: "Absolutely the most real and truthful of everything that Hugo wrote." My review: http://www.biblioatlas.com/2017/06/la... Quote from Dostoevsky on the back of the book: "Absolutely the most real and truthful of everything that Hugo wrote." My review: http://www.biblioatlas.com/2017/06/la...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    On louait des tables, des chaises, des échafaudages, des charrettes. Tout pliait de spectateurs. Des marchands de sang humain criaient à tue-tête : - Qui veut des places ? Une rage m'a pris contre ce peuple. J'ai eu envie de leur crier : - Qui veut la mienne ? Inspired by a recent public execution, Hugo decided to write a short novel to express his outrage. Le Dernier Jour focuses on the last six weeks of a man condemned to be executed and goes through the very painful and detailed reconstructio On louait des tables, des chaises, des échafaudages, des charrettes. Tout pliait de spectateurs. Des marchands de sang humain criaient à tue-tête : - Qui veut des places ? Une rage m'a pris contre ce peuple. J'ai eu envie de leur crier : - Qui veut la mienne ? Inspired by a recent public execution, Hugo decided to write a short novel to express his outrage. Le Dernier Jour focuses on the last six weeks of a man condemned to be executed and goes through the very painful and detailed reconstruction of his feelings in the absence of any occupation, but excruciating wait. We do not learn who the man was and what the details of his crime were, but it is alluded that he had murdered someone. Here Hugo took an opportunity to discuss the slow mental breakdown that his hero underwent, the unfairness of being subjected to that torture, and the futility of the punishment that could not alter the outcome of the crime. Reading Hugo in French was a definite challenge, but the short chapters helped immensely. The subject matter was also very interesting to me, given how it dwelled a lot on philosophy and social justice. I'm sure I missed all the subtleties of Hugo's prose, but many a time an especially wonderful paragraph made me pause in appreciation. I feel like this could be a great prelude to Les Misérables.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    An amazing piece of humanitarian/politico writing. I love Hugo and the shots he takes at the status quo of France in his time. He always seems to generate feelings for me in his writing either through pictures I form in my head or of profound moments when he shows us the world through the eyes of another. This book/story is no different. In fact I think it states how I feel of all his stories. His desire to oppose what he felt was injustice and to once again put the reader in historic France. Be An amazing piece of humanitarian/politico writing. I love Hugo and the shots he takes at the status quo of France in his time. He always seems to generate feelings for me in his writing either through pictures I form in my head or of profound moments when he shows us the world through the eyes of another. This book/story is no different. In fact I think it states how I feel of all his stories. His desire to oppose what he felt was injustice and to once again put the reader in historic France. Beautiful, dark and somewhat shocking for how stark it is. My suggestion is read it if you have the desire to see capital punishment fall.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Victor Hugo's "The Last Day of a Condemned Man" may be a short read, but it is by no means an easy one. Not necessarily enjoyable in the usual sense, "The Last Day..." is an important and powerful work in opposition to the death penalty. The book reads like the thoughts and journal of a condemned man in France, who is given six weeks to live. The reader is forced to delve into the thoughts and fears of a man that we never really get to know in a sense; we are told very little about his life, and Victor Hugo's "The Last Day of a Condemned Man" may be a short read, but it is by no means an easy one. Not necessarily enjoyable in the usual sense, "The Last Day..." is an important and powerful work in opposition to the death penalty. The book reads like the thoughts and journal of a condemned man in France, who is given six weeks to live. The reader is forced to delve into the thoughts and fears of a man that we never really get to know in a sense; we are told very little about his life, and told practically nothing about the crime he has committed that has led him to prison and to be sentenced to death. But that is Hugo's point -- that capital punishment is so inhumane that it should not matter the crime, or the details, or who a person is, only that the sentence is so cruel and unusual that it should not be an option. This was an especially interesting read for me as I work in a law office that represents people on death row in their appeals, and some of the ideas in this short novel are interestingly at odds with the work we do. One thing David Dow mentions in the foreword is how death penalty litigation is heavily focused on individual stories and individual cases, trying to show how and why a certain client should not be put to death, but that Victor Hugo's novel approach to death penalty discussion, the idea that it does not matter who the criminal is or what the circumstances are of the specific case, is an important one. It was fascinating to feel how compelled I was and how sympathetic the main character could be even when I knew nothing of his circumstances or what he had done. This short novel can definitely be tough to get through (it's quite short page-wise but took me a few sittings because I could only take in so much at a time) but I think it's an incredibly important intellectual work to read if one is interested in the death penalty. This should honestly be required reading for anybody involved in the criminal justice system, if not everybody period.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Victor Hugo masterfully places the reader in the mind of a condemned man. This writing is eloquent and emotional and it is easy to feel sympathy for this man who faces execution. We are not told of the severity his crime, but we are lead to believe that his sentence could have been life in prison rather than death. The condemned desired the death sentence rather than argue for a life sentence of hard labor. Hugo even uses this choice to highlight the condemned man’s mental agony. Wouldn’t life a Victor Hugo masterfully places the reader in the mind of a condemned man. This writing is eloquent and emotional and it is easy to feel sympathy for this man who faces execution. We are not told of the severity his crime, but we are lead to believe that his sentence could have been life in prison rather than death. The condemned desired the death sentence rather than argue for a life sentence of hard labor. Hugo even uses this choice to highlight the condemned man’s mental agony. Wouldn’t life at hard labor be better than no life? Hugo’s writing is strongly against capital punishment. The reader is emotionally moved when the condemned thinks about how cruel and harsh life will be for his mother, his wife, and his precious daughter. We are troubled by the callous treatment by some of the guards and are further disturbed the jeering and joking of spectators gathered to witness the execution. There are two sides to all of society’s moral and ethical dilemmas. Hugo’s argument against capital punishment is compelling, but for me unconvincing. Everything he says is probably true. The condemned does suffer fear and mental anguish. But is the fear and anguish of the condemned deserving of leniency, when compared to the victim who can be granted nothing. Discussing the other side of the debate on capital punishment is not in Hugo’s best interest and I understand that. Never the less, I person must look at both sides of an issue and decide for themselves where they stand. No matter how bad the condemned man’s mental anguish is leading up to the execution. His problems are over a second before his head hits the bottom of the basket. The anguish his victims feel continues. Consequently my sympathies rest with the victims. Knowing the guilty has been punished and some form of justice has been attained, even if it doesn’t relieve their continuing anguish.

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    When spring comes, with its dream of renewal and the world reawakening from the long cold slumber of winter, what better time to read a harrowing, bleaker-than-bleak novel above the last hours and thoughts of a guy about to be guillotined? Cheery it's not. But Hugo, who most people might know as the guy who wrote the story of the insufferable stage torment they call "Laymiz", actually wrote books. Even if you know that he actually wrote novels, you're probably only familiar with two: "Disney Music When spring comes, with its dream of renewal and the world reawakening from the long cold slumber of winter, what better time to read a harrowing, bleaker-than-bleak novel above the last hours and thoughts of a guy about to be guillotined? Cheery it's not. But Hugo, who most people might know as the guy who wrote the story of the insufferable stage torment they call "Laymiz", actually wrote books. Even if you know that he actually wrote novels, you're probably only familiar with two: "Disney Musical About Deformed Guy" and "That Insufferable Stage Musical About Some French Sad-Sacks". Too bad "Last Day" is early and overlooked by latte-day taints because Hugo pulls off something incredible: a character purposefully slimmed down to the point where the characterization could literally be anyone, even the person reading the book (if you're a 19th century Parisian, that is) and that's mostly the point. Hugo was very anti-death penalty and this book is a polemic for that view. Politics aside, it's horrific and tense and constricting, something Hugo, champion of the giant sprawling novel, pulls off adeptly.

  16. 5 out of 5

    siriusedward

    So beautifully written. Heartbreaking.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hoda Marmar

    I have read this book in its French edition during September 2012. Whenever you read Victor Hugo, I think, you will be moved by how beautiful the writing style and lexicon is. Hugo is an amazing writer. This book is about how a prisoner is living his last day before he is executed at the blade of a guillotine. When this book came out, this topic was a taboo, it wasn't approved to be criticizing the death penalty through decapitation. Nowadays, it is forbidden, of course, and activists are tryin I have read this book in its French edition during September 2012. Whenever you read Victor Hugo, I think, you will be moved by how beautiful the writing style and lexicon is. Hugo is an amazing writer. This book is about how a prisoner is living his last day before he is executed at the blade of a guillotine. When this book came out, this topic was a taboo, it wasn't approved to be criticizing the death penalty through decapitation. Nowadays, it is forbidden, of course, and activists are trying to render illegal the death penalty by hanging or by administering chemicals. SO, at the time, during the end of the 19th century, Hugo published this book anonymously, nobody knew who wrote it. It was an eye-opener to the people, and as I progress in this review, you will know why it was influential. Hugo was always an advocate for the people, especially the poor. He believes that no matter what crime(s) you may have committed, the guillotine is too cruel and unjust and should be banned. This is basically what this book tries to tell us. The book starts with a satirical dialogue between members of the bourgeoisie Française where they're ridiculing the book 'le Dernier Jour D'un Condamné' , attacking the poor, the prisoners and the writer of such a book that they wouldn't call literature. that was quite a clever way of introducing what Hugo is fighting against: the bourgeoisie, the class struggles, the snob society of the rich, the preconceived ideas, the merciless priests and politicians of his time, the absurdity of some so-called poets, and on. He proceeds then to offer us in a diary-like account of an anonymous prisoner, on death penalty, telling us about his verdict, the prison, his execution, and about all the feelings and thoughts going through his mind. He wrote it all on his last day, thus the title of the book. We know few things about him: he killed someone, he is a husband and father of a little girl, he is a rich man, and he is living in utter fear. We do not know anything about the murder, Hugo is highlighting the fact that it doesn't matter, and regardless of what the crime was, the man is suffering because of his imprisonment and awaiting death. There are many emotional instances in the book, especially the part about his daughter, about being in a cell where previously decapitated criminals lived until their own last days, about how merciless people are, how they would gather and celebrate an execution. This book is very personal to Hugo. He remembers having passed through a street one day, seeing people gathering in crowds since early morning, running around, singing and yelling, leaving their jobs, bringing their family and kids, all to witness joyfully an execution! He felt miserable about it, and he had to write this book as a protest against human cruelty and exaltation at the sight of a guillotine. There are some horrific details, like when the people would shout in disappointment if the guillotine's blade wasn't oiled or shaved properly as to decapitate the head at the first trial. That was one of many passages in this book that sent an icy shiver down my spine! The condemned man is anonymous because Hugo wanted us to relate to this unknown person, to put ourselves in his shoes, and see what it feels like to live in a constant nightmare. I will end my review by raising a few questions: - Do you think that criminals should be punished? - Do you think the death penalty is too harsh? - Many people, including myself, believe the guillotine was one of the most barbaric form of torture. Don't you think that the death penalty through painless merciful ways is a necessity? (I think that although the criminal would be in a horrendous psychological turmoil, and although sometimes an innocent man is convicted - this has to do with the laws of convict, not with death penalty per se - , but if you kill, you should pay for it, and you do not deserve to live in a 5 stars prison cell - like there are in some developed countries - while the person you've denied the right to live to your victim. So, I believe that a merciful death penalty, like injecting certain chemicals to stop the heart painlessly, is the best justice we can offer both the victim and the criminal, that is as far as I could sympathize with a murderer. Do not torture the murderers, but let them pay for their crime.)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Faryal

    “My pardon! my pardon!” I cried, “or, in mercy, five minutes longer!” 😭

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    This was a - to me - somewhat strange mix of fiction and nonfiction. The preface to the 1832 edition of The Last Day of a Condemned Man, included here, nicely summarizes the aim of the story: to provide a generalized account of a man condemned to death. It is supposed to provide a kind of fictional force to Hugo's arguments against the death penalty. The Preface was compelling, and I read it with interest (and horror, as Hugo recounts some stories about barbarically botched executions). After th This was a - to me - somewhat strange mix of fiction and nonfiction. The preface to the 1832 edition of The Last Day of a Condemned Man, included here, nicely summarizes the aim of the story: to provide a generalized account of a man condemned to death. It is supposed to provide a kind of fictional force to Hugo's arguments against the death penalty. The Preface was compelling, and I read it with interest (and horror, as Hugo recounts some stories about barbarically botched executions). After the Preface, however, the story begins.. and I couldn't help but feel that it was forced and rather stilted. The reader was just told explicitly what the story aimed to do. So the reader is not compelled by a natural, spontaneous curiosity to read the account, nor does that account feel natural and spontaneous. The reason for and summary of its creation is still explicitly in mind. It took me some time to shake off this feeling, and to accept the story as a story, to be immersed in it - in that last day of the condemned man. (There was a brief play, A Comedy about a Tragedy, stuck between the Preface and story and referring to the latter, which was quite hideous and put me off, but I won't go into it here.) Finally, this edition included a short piece called Claude Gueux, which - even if still rather forced into shape - swept me along quicker than The Last Day. However, after having told the story, Hugo intrudes with his own political/social/religious commentary, belaboring the point and again taking away any illusion that this is just a story (or a *real* story, a story for the sake of the story, if you like). The spark of the stories is also dulled somewhat by the fact that the death penalty is now abolished in France, and in most other parts of the civilized world (though sadly, not in all). In a sense, to the modern, Western, liberal reader, Hugo is preaching to the choir. Having said that, there is much to say for the conviction with which he writes, his wholehearted commitment to the end of a savage practice, and for his support of the socially downtrodden. In his Preface, he writes that "it has always been for those those who are truly strong, truly great, to show concern for the poor and weak" - in this way at least, Hugo shows himself as a great man. The question of how to deal with criminals - a thread throughout these works - is still very much alive and pertinent today. Should we punish or rehabilitate criminals? Are we taking revenge, or removing malfunctioning members from society? Is punishment - or can it ever be - an example to others? Is there not a better way? Hugo offers his view of the better way, through education, as a final note to Claude Gueux: "This head, the man of the people's head, cultivate it, till it, water it, give it virtue, make use of it; then you will have no need to cut it off."

  20. 4 out of 5

    antiquarian reverie

    About a month ago I heard again the OTR (old time radio) version of Victor Hugo's The Last Day of a Condemned Man {The Weird Circle -12/10/1944}, and while it was fairly fresh in my mind I wanted to read this novelette. I enjoy reading books that I have either heard on the radio or seen the movie, and The Weird Circle is full of classic stories. Before going into the differences in the director's interpretation of the writer's work, I wanted to comment of Hugo's 1832 Preface to his story which i About a month ago I heard again the OTR (old time radio) version of Victor Hugo's The Last Day of a Condemned Man {The Weird Circle -12/10/1944}, and while it was fairly fresh in my mind I wanted to read this novelette. I enjoy reading books that I have either heard on the radio or seen the movie, and The Weird Circle is full of classic stories. Before going into the differences in the director's interpretation of the writer's work, I wanted to comment of Hugo's 1832 Preface to his story which is included in the Delphi collection of his work where I read this story. No matter where you stand on The Death Sentence, you would find his commentary interesting. I agree with many of his points but some I differ, that being said, this work was important enough for him to again broach the subject in Les Miserables (1862). The Last Day felt like an introduction to Jean Valjean's thoughts and troubles. Now to the difference in radio version to the novel, the OTR had a soldier returning from serving Napoleon returning home but the long trip without food and money with a fellow soldier. The soldier is well decorated with heroic deeds but he is hungry and his clothes in tatters. His wife and child having not seen him in years think him dead. When he arrives in Paris, he steals some bread from a bakery and sees a little girl who he finds out is his daughter. She does not recognize him and thinks he is attacking her when showing her his sword with his family's seal. He says he is her father but she says that her father is dead. His wife seems to recognize him but declares her husband dead. So he awaits his fate which is death with no help from his loved ones. The director took a lot of license to Hugo's story to jazz it up. The novel has less details of the man but it is an insightful and important read! Radio version below https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=paHbJvk...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laurence R.

    Yeah, I love this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Terris

    In interesting story of the thoughts of a man on his way to the guillotine... A fairly disturbing subject to read about.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Berfin

    broke my heart deeply..

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    No-one rails against society’s injustices quite like Victor Hugo. This collection includes four pieces that fall somewhere along the continuum between fiction and reportage. Each is based to a greater or lesser extent on real events, but in each case Hugo has embroidered and excluded for effect, as is only reasonable. The first and most powerful piece is the most heavily fictionalised: ‘The Last Day of a Condemned Man’. This man isn’t a specific case, rather a synthesis or symbol of the kind Hug No-one rails against society’s injustices quite like Victor Hugo. This collection includes four pieces that fall somewhere along the continuum between fiction and reportage. Each is based to a greater or lesser extent on real events, but in each case Hugo has embroidered and excluded for effect, as is only reasonable. The first and most powerful piece is the most heavily fictionalised: ‘The Last Day of a Condemned Man’. This man isn’t a specific case, rather a synthesis or symbol of the kind Hugo is so adept at. The reader spends his final day with the condemned man and thus experiences the horror and inhumanity of the death penalty. Hugo was a staunch critic of it, and the cruelty of the criminal justice system in general. This runs through all the pieces in the book. I found every one thoughtful and well-expressed, although ‘The Last Day of a Condemned Man’ stood out as a devastating polemic. I actually put it aside part way through and took up The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables for some light relief. The latter pieces may not have the same level of emotional impact, but they remain powerful and, in the case of Hugo’s prison tours, distinctly eerie. Hugo displays his characteristic perceptiveness and eye for detail. This aside from ‘Claude Gueux’ seems singularly apropos for 2017: Obstinacy unredeemed by intelligence is like stupidity crudely tacked on to and extending the scope of foolishness. It can have far-reaching consequences. As a rule, when either a public or private catastrophe befalls us, if from the wreckage lying on the ground we assess the defects that led to its collapse, we almost always find that the incompetent architect was a mediocre, obstinate man full of admiring faith in himself. The world is full of these pig-headed agents of destruction who claim to represent providence. The explanatory notes are extensive and informative, providing valuable contextual details of mid-19th century French politics. A rare point of continuity through the turbulent 18th and 19th centuries was the Sanson family, executioners who indiscriminately killed kings, revolutionaries, and regicides. Hugo manages to treat such macabre details of the penal system with thoughtful sympathy rather than salaciousness. There is even the odd darkly humorous moment in the prison visit pieces, notably this remark about English tourists: Almost all the English visitors ask to see the blade which cut off Louis XVI’s head. This was sold for scrap, as are all worn-out guillotine blades. The English refuse to believe this, and offer to purchase it from Sanson. If he had been tempted to trade in them, as many Louis XVI blades as Voltaire walking sticks might have been sold. Reading Hugo’s prison writings is both interesting from a historical perspective and thought-provoking as a reflection on the continued injustices and brutalities of penal systems. They still disproportionately punish the poor and reinforce inequality. At least the death penalty was abolished in both the UK and France in the second half of the twentieth century. ‘The Last Day of a Condemned Man’ is a particularly effective reminder of its horrors.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. There were moments when I felt like the story was mocking our unnamed narrator. For example when that architect comes to measure the cell, telling the condemned man that the prison will be much improved in six months from then but he won't benefit from it, or when the new guard asks the prisoner for the winning lottery numbers. I was like "leave the poor guy alone already!". Also, the part where his three-year-old daughter visits him but calls him "sir" instead of "papa" was heart-breaking. I was There were moments when I felt like the story was mocking our unnamed narrator. For example when that architect comes to measure the cell, telling the condemned man that the prison will be much improved in six months from then but he won't benefit from it, or when the new guard asks the prisoner for the winning lottery numbers. I was like "leave the poor guy alone already!". Also, the part where his three-year-old daughter visits him but calls him "sir" instead of "papa" was heart-breaking. I was expecting the story of the murder will unfold until the end of the book but as I was forwarding to the last pages, nothing began to reveal. Come to think of it, it was better this way. We know nothing about the condemned man except for the fact that he has a wife and a three-year-old daughter and that he commited a crime for which he was sentenced to death. Not once he tried to say he was innocent, not once he tried to make excuses for his crime. Knowing the story of his murder, his motives, would have been irrelevant for the reader. There wasn't any going back anyway so what would've been the use of it? At some point it crossed my mind that the narrator didn't give any detail about the murder or his past because he didn't want to be judged, he didn't want the reader to only focus on that; he just wanted to be treated as an ordinary man whose days are counted and he wanted the reader to understand his desperation as the end approached. Overall, I had the feeling that I was only reading parts of the book - the mocking or heart-breaking moments that emerged here and there. I couldn't really put myself into the condemned man's shoes but I think that was the translator's fault - this is why I think books should be read in their original language. Also, it wasn't the last day, as the title says, but the last six weeks and the last moments couldn't have been written by the condemned man. I think Hugo just wanted to make a grand finale.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Med Redha

    Victor Hugo is twenty-six when he writes, in two and a half months, The Last Day of a Condemned, a novel which undoubtedly constitutes the most vehement indictment ever pronounced against the death penalty. We will not know who is the Condemned, we will know nothing about the crime he has committed. Because the author's intention is not to enter into a debate but to exhibit the horror and absurdity of the situation in which any man is found to be cut off in a few hours. This novel - often with str Victor Hugo is twenty-six when he writes, in two and a half months, The Last Day of a Condemned, a novel which undoubtedly constitutes the most vehement indictment ever pronounced against the death penalty. We will not know who is the Condemned, we will know nothing about the crime he has committed. Because the author's intention is not to enter into a debate but to exhibit the horror and absurdity of the situation in which any man is found to be cut off in a few hours. This novel - often with strangely modern accents - has such a power of suggestion that the reader ends by identifying himself with the narrator, whom he shares in turn with anguish and vain hopes. Until the last lines of the book, the genius of Victor Hugo makes us participate in a frightened expectation: that of the squeaky noise that will make the chopper rushing into the rails of the guillotine. Anyone who has read this book will never forget this striking lesson in writing and humanity.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    I love it when you can read a whole book in a day and this is definitely one of those books. Scarcely more than a 100 pages, this is a comparatively economical and breezy read for Hugo- albeit, loaded with the usual social commentary and metaphysical roller-coaster. The narrator is imprisoned and awaiting execution for an unspecified time and we follow him through a series of conversations, both with himself and others, until his ultimate and unavoidable end. Hugo describes both the physical and I love it when you can read a whole book in a day and this is definitely one of those books. Scarcely more than a 100 pages, this is a comparatively economical and breezy read for Hugo- albeit, loaded with the usual social commentary and metaphysical roller-coaster. The narrator is imprisoned and awaiting execution for an unspecified time and we follow him through a series of conversations, both with himself and others, until his ultimate and unavoidable end. Hugo describes both the physical and psychological world of the narrator in specific and visceral detail, sucking you into his mind and creating a compassion for this seemingly distant and un-relatable man, finally underscoring the author's favorite theme- that we, as a race, have more in common than we think and can only best serve ourselves and one another with compassion.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shuprova

    This book was so beautiful and poignant that I actually had to stop at certain lines and catch my breath. The protagonist is so desperate to cling on to life, and yet so certain that it will be taken from him - it's heartbreaking. Yet again, Hugo creates an amazing depth of character and you can't help but empathise with this man. Highly recommend it! This book was so beautiful and poignant that I actually had to stop at certain lines and catch my breath. The protagonist is so desperate to cling on to life, and yet so certain that it will be taken from him - it's heartbreaking. Yet again, Hugo creates an amazing depth of character and you can't help but empathise with this man. Highly recommend it!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Qhuay

    In this novella, we have access to the thoughts and emotions of a man who was condemned to death, never quite knowing if today is his last day. Enjoyable enough, but nothing too grand, as I'm sure the author's full novels must be. In this novella, we have access to the thoughts and emotions of a man who was condemned to death, never quite knowing if today is his last day. Enjoyable enough, but nothing too grand, as I'm sure the author's full novels must be.

  30. 4 out of 5

    yagmuralbayir

    These fiction-letters are definetely astounding and showing the truth behind execution. It is a perfect starter to meet Hugo before 'Les Miserables'. These fiction-letters are definetely astounding and showing the truth behind execution. It is a perfect starter to meet Hugo before 'Les Miserables'.

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