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L'ultimo giorno di un condannato a morte (Audio-eBook)

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Trent'anni prima del grandioso ‘I Miserabili' Victor Hugo scrive un altro capolavoro: ‘L'ultimo giorno di un condannato a morte'. Un uomo di cui non si conosce il nome né la colpa affida a fogli trovati qua e là nella sua cella il racconto dei giorni e delle ore che, con il loro inesorabile trascorrere, lo conducono alla ghigliottina. La sua disperazione è interrotta solo Trent'anni prima del grandioso ‘I Miserabili' Victor Hugo scrive un altro capolavoro: ‘L'ultimo giorno di un condannato a morte'. Un uomo di cui non si conosce il nome né la colpa affida a fogli trovati qua e là nella sua cella il racconto dei giorni e delle ore che, con il loro inesorabile trascorrere, lo conducono alla ghigliottina. La sua disperazione è interrotta solo per brevi momenti da barlumi di infondata speranza in una grazia che non arriverà e da fantasticherie su un passato lontano; speranze e ricordi che non fanno che rendere ancora più vivido e intenso il suo dolore. Una struggente e poetica condanna alla più inumana delle condanne, letta per il Narratore audiolibri da Jacopo Venturiero. (Versione integrale) Per fruire al meglio di questo Audio-eBook da leggere e ascoltare in sincronia leggi la pagina d'aiuto a questo link: https://help.streetlib.com/hc/it/arti...


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Trent'anni prima del grandioso ‘I Miserabili' Victor Hugo scrive un altro capolavoro: ‘L'ultimo giorno di un condannato a morte'. Un uomo di cui non si conosce il nome né la colpa affida a fogli trovati qua e là nella sua cella il racconto dei giorni e delle ore che, con il loro inesorabile trascorrere, lo conducono alla ghigliottina. La sua disperazione è interrotta solo Trent'anni prima del grandioso ‘I Miserabili' Victor Hugo scrive un altro capolavoro: ‘L'ultimo giorno di un condannato a morte'. Un uomo di cui non si conosce il nome né la colpa affida a fogli trovati qua e là nella sua cella il racconto dei giorni e delle ore che, con il loro inesorabile trascorrere, lo conducono alla ghigliottina. La sua disperazione è interrotta solo per brevi momenti da barlumi di infondata speranza in una grazia che non arriverà e da fantasticherie su un passato lontano; speranze e ricordi che non fanno che rendere ancora più vivido e intenso il suo dolore. Una struggente e poetica condanna alla più inumana delle condanne, letta per il Narratore audiolibri da Jacopo Venturiero. (Versione integrale) Per fruire al meglio di questo Audio-eBook da leggere e ascoltare in sincronia leggi la pagina d'aiuto a questo link: https://help.streetlib.com/hc/it/arti...

30 review for L'ultimo giorno di un condannato a morte (Audio-eBook)

  1. 5 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

    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

  3. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    He has neither name nor defined crime but in six weeks he will be guillotined. The last day of a condemned man is a rare force! Empathy and identification aroused such a monologue can not leave indifferent. The soul of the states we share a condemned without future; questioning a deferred conscript prey to terror against the punishment reserved for him away from those he loves and no longer cherish; psychological torture caused by a now inevitable countdown fingering the days, hours, minutes too He has neither name nor defined crime but in six weeks he will be guillotined. The last day of a condemned man is a rare force! Empathy and identification aroused such a monologue can not leave indifferent. The soul of the states we share a condemned without future; questioning a deferred conscript prey to terror against the punishment reserved for him away from those he loves and no longer cherish; psychological torture caused by a now inevitable countdown fingering the days, hours, minutes too quickly to his taste. Ah, to stop the time ... And the question that keeps the tap, what about the pain? A strong theme treated masterfully! As long as you are curious what we can feel in such a situation, the Last Day of a Condemned should fully meet your expectations! As long as they do not exceed six weeks...

  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. 4 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Catching up with the classics

  6. 4 out of 5

    María Alcaide

    4,5*s

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steven Walle

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

  8. 5 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...

  9. 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.

  10. 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 reconstruction 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.

  11. 5 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.

  12. 4 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    siriusedward

    So beautifully written. Heartbreaking.

  15. 4 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.)

  16. 5 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."

  17. 5 out of 5

    classic 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...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laurence R.

    Yeah, I love this book.

  19. 5 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 4 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 5 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

    The title very much summarises what the book is about whilst simultaneously making it quite hard to ignore the context of the novel, and perhaps even more so of our own present context where the death penalty has mostly been abolished. The perspective Victor Hugo chose to approach such a once taboo topic as the abolition of the death penalty, is what I found to be the most remarkable aspect of this novel. The narrative is personal and intrusive and yet it remains a faceless tragedy, which can ha The title very much summarises what the book is about whilst simultaneously making it quite hard to ignore the context of the novel, and perhaps even more so of our own present context where the death penalty has mostly been abolished. The perspective Victor Hugo chose to approach such a once taboo topic as the abolition of the death penalty, is what I found to be the most remarkable aspect of this novel. The narrative is personal and intrusive and yet it remains a faceless tragedy, which can hardly be refuted even by the most arduous opposition. Hugo narrates the story with clear engagement and close sentiment and yet he abstains from intruding on the almost biographical narrative. Instead, he reserves his arguments for the bluntness of the text to convey to a reader left to finish the book in intense debate about where their morals are situated.

  25. 5 out of 5

    miakowsky

    The alternatives are these: first, the man you destroy is without family, relations, or friends, in the world. In this case, he has received neither education nor instruction; no care has been bestowed either on his mind or heart; then, by what right would you kill this miserable orphan? You punish him because his infancy trailed on the ground, without stem, or support; you make him pay the penalty of the isolated position in which you left him! you make a crime of his misfortune! No one taught The alternatives are these: first, the man you destroy is without family, relations, or friends, in the world. In this case, he has received neither education nor instruction; no care has been bestowed either on his mind or heart; then, by what right would you kill this miserable orphan? You punish him because his infancy trailed on the ground, without stem, or support; you make him pay the penalty of the isolated position in which you left him! you make a crime of his misfortune! No one taught him to know what he was doing; this man lived in ignorance; the fault was in his destiny, not himself. You destroy one who is innocent. Or, secondly; the man has a family; and then do you think the fatal stroke wounds him alone? that his father, his mother, or his children will not suffer by it? No, in killing him, you vitally injure all his family. And thus again you punish the innocent.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Halime Yazıcı Mimaroğlu

    To start new year with this kind of book was really challengable. You can think or ask me why??? Who want to read last days of a man whose fate will be death. Who wants to witness his pain or emotions. Before and after reading this book, your thougts about death penalty specially guilotine wont be same!!!

  27. 4 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    I read this book for school in French. It really isn't any different to the English version though. SPOILERS !! I sped through it because I was expecting the end to be when he escaped or got his head chopped off with dramatic, gory details (which, I know, would have been impossible because he cannot write in his "diary" while dying...) . I was so disappointed to find that he just brutally stopped writing 4 HOURS before his execution. No action. No drama. Just endless pages of description on how th I read this book for school in French. It really isn't any different to the English version though. SPOILERS !! I sped through it because I was expecting the end to be when he escaped or got his head chopped off with dramatic, gory details (which, I know, would have been impossible because he cannot write in his "diary" while dying...) . I was so disappointed to find that he just brutally stopped writing 4 HOURS before his execution. No action. No drama. Just endless pages of description on how the condemned man feels towards his inevitable death. The novel finished with the reader speechless, with still no information whatsoever on the main character. I know the author is trying to show people that a death sentence is wrong and inhuman but he is making the most valuable argument be forgotten: innocence. Is the person innocent ? We know that he grieves for his daughter who will be alone and sad without her father. This makes the reader feel empathetic towards him but if the author gave us the information that he was a serial killer who only cared about his small child and had no pity or remorse in killing anyone. Would that change the readers view on him ? Definitely. I just think that Hugo's novel proved its point but not entirely because of the lack of information. He made me believe that people should have a fair trial BUT the really murderous people should in fact be sentenced like the character in Hugo's work for their unacceptable crimes

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    A strong example of literary advocacy, Hugo’s novella is an intimate look at a convicted murderer’s last day of life. It is a polemic against the death penalty but one where the story and the argument have a narrative integrity that doesn’t thumb the scales. It’s possible to read this fine story and think differently than the author but he will challenge all readers on the inhumanity of killing another human being by the state. Hugo writes in the first person, tracking the emotions of the condem A strong example of literary advocacy, Hugo’s novella is an intimate look at a convicted murderer’s last day of life. It is a polemic against the death penalty but one where the story and the argument have a narrative integrity that doesn’t thumb the scales. It’s possible to read this fine story and think differently than the author but he will challenge all readers on the inhumanity of killing another human being by the state. Hugo writes in the first person, tracking the emotions of the condemned man as they shift and knot, tighten like a noose and snap, during the course of the day—remorse, fear, shame, disgust, rebellion, denial, sorrow, anger. Even at his most pitiful Hugo presents him as a human figure and compels the reader to weigh the fact that his execution is in our name. In 19th century France there is a carnival aspect to executions which brings out the prurient and the commercial, imagine an aroused Jerry Springer audience and people selling postcards and snacks. I’m not sure that our discrete-behind-prison-walls with minimal witnesses-way is better. It is designed to be more civilized or perhaps just more protective of an institution that we might not be able to stomach were its reality not thoroughly hidden from us. Hugo does not hide what it is like to live one’s last day before execution.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    A man writes about the last days before he is put to death. We no little about him. We do not know his name, his age, or the crime that put him there. His thoughts tend to be a little eratic, which is to be expected in this situation, between wanting death over life in prison, then asking for another five minutes before his death. He writes about his surroundings, as mediocre as they may be, about what will happen after he is beheaded, about his childhood sweetheart, or about what his words coul A man writes about the last days before he is put to death. We no little about him. We do not know his name, his age, or the crime that put him there. His thoughts tend to be a little eratic, which is to be expected in this situation, between wanting death over life in prison, then asking for another five minutes before his death. He writes about his surroundings, as mediocre as they may be, about what will happen after he is beheaded, about his childhood sweetheart, or about what his words could mean to someone reading them after he is gone. We follow him from the time he hears his sentence (through flashbacks) to his last steps towards the Guillotine. It seems like a short and simple story, but was actually lightyears ahead of its time when it was written by Hugo. Definitely worth a read.

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