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Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 23:16 GMT 00:16 UK
Furore over 'Les Mis II'
Guillotine
Images of the Revolution still captivate France
By James Coomarasamy in Paris

The family of the French writer Victor Hugo is calling for a ban on a book due to be published on Thursday which has been dubbed 'Les Miserables Two'.


The book has been called the literary event of the season.

The novel, which has been described as a blasphemous betrayal by its critics, contains many of the characters from Hugo's famous portrayal of social injustice in revolutionary France.

The controversial novel is actually called Cosette, or the Time of Illusions, and was secretly written by the award-winning journalist and critic, Francois Ceresa.

In it, he continues the story of several characters who appear in Les Miserables, bringing back to literary life some of those who died in Victor Hugo's classic work.

Tinkering with history

The book has been called the literary event of the season.

Francois Ceresa
Ceresa continues the story of Victor Hugo's characters
But the Hugo family views things rather differently. They say it tinkers with one of the nation's most celebrated works of literature - a view shared by several prominent French critics.

The literary row has became a legal one as lawyers for Pierre Hugo, the writer's great-great-grandson, have called for the book to be banned.

They have demanded the publishers pay damages of around $750,000m dollars for the novel's moral violation of Victor Hugo's memory.

Mr Ceresa, meanwhile, argues that his book pays homage to the great writer, whose family he has described as "intellectual terrorists".

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