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Mysteries of Paris

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  576 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The first new translation in over a century of the brilliant epic novel that inspired Les Misérables

Sensational, engrossing, and heartbreaking, The Mysteries of Paris is doubtless one of the most entertaining and influential works to emerge from the nineteenth century. It was one of France’s first serial novels, and for sixteen months, Parisians rushed in droves to the
Paperback, 1392 pages
Published February 25th 2016 by Penguin Classics (first published 1843)
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Darcy Gallagher Hi Todd, the novel was translated into English in 2015 by Carolyn Betensky and Jonathan Loesberg for Penguin Classics, you asked me today, so here is…moreHi Todd, the novel was translated into English in 2015 by Carolyn Betensky and Jonathan Loesberg for Penguin Classics, you asked me today, so here is your answer.(less)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Bryn Hammond
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
… I won’t let the last leg of this affect my mark (it was awful soap, and I’m disappointed in him that he cannot let his ex-prostitute marry happily. He has been so radical, and so feminist among other things). Obviously this ‘book’ was a live thing in its maker’s hands, that changed shape as he wrote the serial instalments, and listened to his public, and changed himself. Along the way he began to call himself a socialist, as he got a speedy education through a project he had started as just ...more
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Dickens, but darker.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really 3 and a half. I took off a half star because I wasn't all that happy with the epilogue. I thought some parts of the book were better than others, but over all I did enjoy it. The author did a good job keeping track of all the major characters and plot lines, wrapping each one up by the end of the book. The author also keeps the reader informed of who each character is and what they've been doing by occasionally giving the reader a recap. (This was probably even more important when this ...more
Oct 29, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Umberto Eco (The Prague Cemetery)
The original French text is available at La Bibliothèque électronique du Québec Volume I.

The original French text is available at La Bibliothèque électronique du Québec Volume II.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg, Volume 1 of 6.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg, Volume 2 of 6.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg, Volume 3 of 6.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg, Volume 4 of 6.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg, Volume 5 of 6.

Free download
Girl with her Head in a Book
Review originally published here:

Weighing in at nearly one and a half thousand pages, The Mysteries of Paris is an intimidating book by anyone’s standards. Serialised over a sixteen month period in the 1840s, it was a sensation in its day, inspiring Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Having never heard of it before, I was surprised at how familiar it felt; the dark and frightening underbelly of Paris is not so very different from Dickens’ account of Victorian
Rob Atkinson
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hugely popular and influential in its day (the 1840s), Eugene Sue's "The Mysteries Of Paris" is a whopper of a colorful, picaresque novel in the old tradition. I'd been intrigued by mentions of this title repeatedly cropping up in my other subversive/avant-garde leaning readings, as having been a key influence, and I thought I'd even read that Lautreamont had taken his nom-de-plume from a character in the book. (On that score it seems I was mistaken). I therefore was surprised by just how ...more
Kate Mckinley
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
It is a cobblestone. Very, very much a product of its time. If you thought the ending of "Camille" was awful don't even start. If you found Dickens boring, you certainly don't have the stamina for this. But if you're prepared to wallow for weeks in a sentimental morass of misguided but well-intentioned social commentary hung on the bones of a gothic revenge piece, then boy howdy is this the book for you!
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The New Mysteries

Mirable dictu, a new translation of Eugène Sue’s Mystères de Paris has been published after 171 years (Penguin Classics, 2015 $20 paper, $2.99 Kindle — though at 1360 pages maybe you wouldn’t want an e-book…) The translators are Carolyn Betensky and Jonathan Loesberg, and they have made a creditable job of it. In their introduction they spend some time in handwringing over the difficulties of translating the criminal slang thiat Sue made use of in the first part of the book, but
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wanda by: Dagny
8 NOV 2016 - reading with The Literature of the 19th Century Group at Yahoo. All are welcome -

13 NOV 2016 - End of Book I. What a great, fun read! Peopled with likably nefarious characters (isn't that a funny oxymoron?!) each with his/her secrets. Oh, how I am going to enjoy this book.

21 NOV 2016 - End of Book II.

27 NOV 2016 - Book III, Chap. 6. Today is the First Sunday of Advent - Hope.

2 DEC 2016 - End of Book III.

4 DEC 2016 - Second Sunday of
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
At 1,363 pages probably the longest book I'll read this year. Originally serialised in France in 1842 this book has everything - romance, murder, kidnapping, humour, embezzlement, backstabbing (sometimes literally), social commentary and probably a few other things that I have forgotten to mention. The bad are very very bad and the good, well just a wee bit too goody-goody sometimes- I did want to smack Songbird by the end. My favourite characters were probably the indomitable Slasher and the ...more
Irina Elena
One of my favourite! A nice blending of adventure, love, mistery, drama...just lovely! :)
Jason Reeser
The first part of this book was excellent. Full of great atmosphere, interesting characters, and a fun plot. It read much like a Dickens novel. But somewhere after the halfway point, this turned into a drawing-room soap opera that was all to often the fashion for writers in the 19th century. It became mostly gossipy characters talking about other characters and it was difficult to tell them apart. And this was only the first part of six parts. I really wanted to like this book and read all six ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Featuring orphans, thieves, murderers, prostitutes, and a prince in disguise in a narratives that is at times melodramatic, sentimental, and moralizing, this 19thc novel is a massive (literally) achievement.
Holly Socolow
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this epic 19th century French novel, a very thoughtful gift from my sister-in-law. The novel was serialized over 16 months and 150 installments, and the recent English translation was superb.

It begins on the Ile de Cite, which in its day was portrayed as a sinister area filled with thieves and murderers. A mysterious man named Rodolphe rescues a young prostitute, Songbird, from a criminal called Slasher, who is assaulting her. Rodolphe is so adept at fighting that Slasher
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
This book can seem overly dramatic and over the top because it is a very old book, and one may have to get used to the language. But I felt, being dramatic here myself, like it lifted me to the heights of ecstasy and threw me into the pits of despair. It was that good.

This is the story of Rodolphe, a man who tries to reward the virtuous poor and punish the evil. There are many interwoven stories in this book, and they are all interesting. Sometimes it is hard to remember who all the characters
Robert burke
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book had everything you would expect in a penny dreadful. A hero, his compatriots, beautiful women, nasty villains. Completely readable but not as good as George Reynolds The Mysteries of London. That was a five star read.
Only got to chapter 12, but I was really enjoying it. For a thousand page book, it has a good pace. I found the characters very intriguing.
Clint Joseph
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I know, I know, of *course* the ridiculously long one gets 5 stars, but you've got to give credit to a guy that can pull off something like this. (And yes, I know, sf/f runs long as, like, a rule, but this was a newspaper-serialized story, written on deadlines I couldn't imagine [though oddly {?} I find myself wanting to try.])

So, in respect to the amount of time one will invest in this, this will be a pretty general review. If you want to know what it's about, you can read the back blurb or
Bill Wallace
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been listening to the truly excellent Librivox recording of this epic for almost a year on my daily commute and I will surely miss it now that I'm finished with Volume 6. Thank you to the Librivox reader, Celine Major, for a magnificent job of conveying the book. I "read" this because of Pynchon's erudite airdog Pugnax and I'm grateful for the nudge, because it's a terrific bit of proto-pulp -- Hugo lite, and a precursor of innumerable pop fiction heroics. Rodolphe is clearly the ancestor ...more
Tom Riordan
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A crime procedural, a screed for socialist, feminist, and prison reform, a critique of the 19th Century French class hierarchy that holds everyone in its death grip, a clear-eyed look at the limits of altruism and the power of evil, I found this doorstop of book a real page turner. One of the earliest authors of the realist movement, Sue had a profound impact on Balzac, Hugo and Zola, and given the popularity of the book which was a hit throughout Europe and England, probably Dickens. As for ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The books is good enough to read, however, it has a tendency to drag on the narrative, making it a bit too long. The narrative has a motive, and that is to inspire a certain feelings about those who are unprivileged in the minds and hearts of those who are not. And given that the book was written in 19th century, it can be understood. But, the author takes a very rigid stance in terms of morality and right and wrong and what is acceptable in society and what is not, so much so that in trying to ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's taken me 3 and a half months, but I finished this wonderful very long 19th century French novel. I came across the novel through a letter between a mother and her daughter who lived in Concord. The mother was reading it and enjoying it. The novel follows a young prince as he wonders through Paris righting wrongs, helping the poor and unfortunate. Murders, theft, debauchery, hypocrisy, and tears. Lots of fun. There are critiques of medical professions, justice systems, poverty that fit our ...more
Sue's book is a great backdrop to The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Misérables. It is dark, twisted, and absorbed with the mystique de la merde. For those interested in the background to the two later and greater works, this is a good place to start.

The Mysteries of Paris is a great book to read on its own as well, but it comes in at over 1,000 pages in the Kindle edition so some readers may want to give a few minutes of thought as to whether or not it is worth the time.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me start off by saying this novel is an acquired taste. The majority of the characters are caricatures which are even more exaggerated than Dickens' creations. The plot, although containing a strong social message, is highly melodramatic and relies on improbable events and strange coincidences. If you are not liberal minded you may also object to the authors socialist leanings. If you feel that the poor are lazy and that some people bring misfortune upon themselves then this book might not ...more
Cooper Renner
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A vast sprawling panorama of good and evil among, mostly, the poor of Paris around the year 1840. Not quite as entertaining as its English “disciple”, The Mysteries of London Volume 1, but still quite an enjoyable read.
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading the first 49 pages of this book on my iPhone in its original 19th Century English translation that is in the Public Domain. It is free online in a six volume downloadable edition, but switched to this new paperback translation by Carolyn Betensky and Jonathan Loesberg. This modern translation is much better, and I highly recommend it. Reading a paper book with over 1300 pages can at times be physically challenging, but it is also available in a digital eBook edition.

Charles Altendorf
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beginning of book was breath taking in pace. Really kept me on my toes. The end slowed down way too much for me.
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
This sprawling mystery story was the first to be published in France in serial form and was an enormous success in its day. It remains a book that is widely read but I found it just too long and too much a product of its time to really enjoy. Full of melodrama, bathos and pathos, coincidences, murders and kidnappings, it centres on the character of Rodolphe, a German nobleman, who sets out on a mission amongst the poor and downtrodden from the lower depths of Parisian society to protect the ...more
Rara Beretta
half through the book, i couldn't wait to be done with it. The Mysteries of Paris was a very long read with theatrical dialogues of one-dimensional characters in a mix of adventure and social drama. Sue has some good depictions of some social problems of his time, how the society breeds the crime, how the justice is biased towards the rich, etc. However, it's very black-and-white to the point of being utterly naive. Villains are super evil and mostly ugly, all the good characters are noble and ...more
Feb 11, 2016 marked it as to-read
Translators' Introduction

--The Mysteries of Paris

Letter from Eugène Sue to the Editor of 'Le Journal des Débats'
French Currency in the Nineteenth Century
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From Wikipedia:

Joseph Marie Eugène Sue (20 January 1804 – 3 August 1857) was a French novelist.
He was born in Paris, the son of a distinguished surgeon in Napoleon's army, and is said to have had the Empress Joséphine for godmother. Sue himself acted as surgeon both in the Spanish campaign undertaken by France in 1823 and at the Battle of Navarino (1828). In 1829 his father's death put him in
“La poesia, come il bene e il bello, è spesso contagiosa.” 0 likes
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