Les Misérables Pre-Show Talk
“Les Misérables and the French Revolutionary Tradition” by Rebecca Spang
Over the last 230 years, France has had at least three major revolutions, four monarchies, five republics, and three empires. Contrary to common perception, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is not set during the famous French Revolution of the 1790s, but decades later. How can having revolutions become an almost ordinary part of political life, and what role do works of art have in them?
Rebecca L. Spang (B.A., Harvard; PhD, Cornell) is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University. The author of The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture and of Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution, she has also written for the Washington Post and the Financial Times.