Main content

Les Misérables: novel of the century?

Cultural discussion programme. Andrew Marr discusses the 19th-century novel with David Bellos, Dinah Birch, Simon Callow and Barbara Hannigan.

On Start the Week Andrew Marr talks to David Bellos about Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. Bellos argues that this 19th century masterpiece is the novel of the century, which demonstrates the drive to improve human life both morally and materially. Dinah Birch compares what was happening in literature on the other side of the channel, reflecting the breadth of society in Britain. Simon Callow makes the case for the composer of the century, Richard Wagner, while the singer Barbara Hannigan explains how a 12th century legend has been given a contemporary twist in the opera Written On Skin.
Producer: Katy Hickman.

Available now

43 minutes

David Bellos

David Bellos is Meredith Howland Pyne Professor of French Literature at Princeton University.

The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables is published on 26th Jan by Particular Books

Dinah Birch

Dinah Birch is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact; Professor of English Literature at The University of Liverpool.

Simon Callow

Simon Callow is an actor and author.

Being Wagner: The Triumph of the Will is published on 26th January by William Collins

Barbara Hannigan

Barbara Hannigan is an opera singer and conductor.

She plays Agnes in Written on Skin at the Royal Opera House 23th to 30th January.


Role Contributor
Presenter Andrew Marr
Interviewed Guest David Bellos
Interviewed Guest Dinah Birch
Interviewed Guest Simon Callow
Interviewed Guest Barbara Hannigan
Producer Katy Hickman