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Download The Last Day of a Condemned Man epub

by Victor Hugo

An unabridged edition, to include the original ballads and French argot with contiguous translation and footnotes -
Download The Last Day of a Condemned Man epub
ISBN: 1603863869
ISBN13: 978-1603863865
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: Victor Hugo
Language: English
Publisher: Watchmaker Publishing (October 26, 2010)
Pages: 124 pages
ePUB size: 1799 kb
FB2 size: 1299 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 726
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The Last Day of a Condemned Man
by Victor Hugo

"The Last Day of a Condemned Man" is no more "a plea for the abolishment of capital punishment" only than Les Miserables is a study of the Parisian sewers only. It is vintage Victor Hugo, an enjoyable read in Arabella Ward's translation. Do not skip it simply because the chorus of reviewers are more focused on macabre capital punishment than Victor Hugo.

Classical Victor Hugo diversions are prison slang, the formation of a chain gang, black humor, prison life, guillotining, and society presented in the first person of the condemned man. Forty-nine short chapters over 75 pages make it a short novel presumably because Victor Hugo wanted it thus.

Ignore David Dow's "Forward" being a treatise on capital punishment and ignore the heavy "Preface" written three years later in 1832. If Victor Hugo wrote the Preface why is it in the third person? "A Comedy" was also added in 1832 being a parody on the novel itself. Finally, "The Last Day ..." is in fact 6 weeks moving from Bicêtre prison, to the Conciergerie, to the guillotine at the Place de Grève. Moreover, as the condemned man admits "I am justly punished" his crime is rendered irrelevant.

The black humour is unexpected. The condemned man is concerned his hair will turn white from worry before his head falls; the bailiff is more concerned about spilling his tobacco "Am I not unfortunate?"; prison improvements are planned but "You will not enjoy it; what a pity!"; an old gendarme seeks his assistance in choosing lottery numbers as "It is a well known fact that these who die in this way see the lottery in advance"; the ache in his elbow will be "well again" in two hours and forty-five minutes; and finally how does one know "That did not hurt!".

"Put him in the oven" means being bound on your stomach to the guillotine seasaw; "the monastery of Mont-à-Regret" is the guillotine. "To marry a widow" is to be hanged or "to dance the dance where there is no floor"; a robber's head is "The Sorbonne" when it plans and advises on crime but "the tronche" when the hangman cuts it off; and so on.

For a bit more vintage Victor Hugo "The Last Day ..." is pure gold.

Malcolm Cameron
1 January 2015
It still has its place in today. We often say "arrest him!" or "jail him!!' about people we disagree with hastily. But what if that was you? your freedom torn from you, and forgotten from the world.
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.
good version of the publication
Very short novel by Hugo and one I had not read before. Loved it, it's a one day read!
Hugo is the best writer in history i.e. Les Miserable turns the drama into beautiful truth and The Last Day of a Condemned Man is like a missing piece of Les Miserable. It is that good and that tear eating at your heart.

John L. Kinsler
If you want to change your mind about capital punishment, this is the book for you.