Dystopia and Poetic Vision in <i>L’Homme qui rit</i>

Kathryn M. Grossman

in The Later Novels of Victor Hugo

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199642953
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739231 | DOI:
Dystopia and Poetic Vision in L’Homme qui rit

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Chapter 3 looks at L’Homme qui rit (1869), a work set in late- and post-Restoration England that, like Les Travailleurs de la mer, reveals Hugo’s extraordinary rhetorical and visionary powers. The heightened, almost hallucinogenic atmosphere of L’Homme qui rit presents an image at once dystopian and utopian of human potential. The novel complicates, enriches, and extends the almost coded language and historical concerns of the earlier narratives—an all-encompassing verbal network that testifies not only to Hugo’s globalizing vision but also to his extraordinarily ambitious artistic and social agenda. Hugo’s concern with his literary and political legacy indicates an abiding fear that he might well die while still in exile. Through its engagement with John Milton’s Paradise Lost, L’Homme qui rit offers a singular strategy for perpetuating Hugo’s fame in the literary afterlife

Keywords: L’Homme qui rit; John Milton; Paradise Lost; dystopian; utopian; vision; verbal network

Chapter.  37564 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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