Mourning Triumphant: Hugo's Terrible Year(s)

Peter Starr

in Commemorating Trauma

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226030
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240920 | DOI:
Mourning Triumphant: Hugo's Terrible Year(s)

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This chapter begins by examining the place of melancholy and melancholic historicity in Hugo's texts on or around the Terrible Year. It moves on to an examination of why confusion for Hugo is not something simply to be overcome through the cycling of history's melancholic spiral and then concludes with the question of whether Hugo's work of the period leaves room for revolution. Reading the two literary works of Victor Hugo involves a markedly different set of frustrations than does the reading of La Débâcle. Where Zola's novel mimics the anxieties of war by holding war's onset in maddening abeyance, all the while claiming precise understanding of the root causes of the coming disasters, L'Année terrible and Quatre-vingt-treize tend to withhold synoptic cultural diagnosis as they threaten to submerge the reader in undigested detail and prophetic bombast. Like Zola, Hugo clearly cultivates chaos to rhetorical effect.

Keywords: Victor Hugo; Terrible Year; L'Année terrible; Quatre-vingt-treize; melancholy; chaos

Chapter.  10213 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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