Study Guide

Les Misérables Part 4, Book 1

By Victor Hugo

Part 4, Book 1

Part 4, The Idyll in the Rue Plumet and the Epic of the Rue Saint-Denis

A Few Pages of History

  • Time for a history lesson. Victor Hugo walks us through the period of French history known as the Bourbon Restoration, which is the time after the Revolution when the French brought back their royal family and were ruled by Louis XVIII. It didn't take Louis long to become unpopular, although Hugo thinks that the guy was a very good leader in many ways.
  • By 1830, though, the French royal family had again made itself so unpopular that people were clamoring for democracy and the rule of reason over authority. When all was said and done, France entered the period of the July Monarchy and elected a guy named Louis-Philippe as "the people's king."
  • Confused? We don't blame you. France's political history is a hot mess there for a few decades. In any case, the main point of all this discussion is to say that in 1830, only a few decades after the debacle that the French Revolution became, France was once again a hotbed of revolutionary feelings.
  • Now it's time to look in on Enjolras and his revolutionary buddies in the ABC Society. A drunken guy named Grantaire says he'll go out and preach revolution to the people of France. Enjolras thinks he must be joking, but after some arguing agrees to give Grantaire a shot.