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The Later Novels of Victor HugoVariations on the Politics and Poetics of Transcendence$
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Kathryn M. Grossman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199642953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642953.001.0001

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From Han d’Islande to Les Misérables and Beyond

From Han d’Islande to Les Misérables and Beyond

(p.17) 1 From Han d’Islande to Les Misérables and Beyond
The Later Novels of Victor Hugo

Kathryn M. Grossman

Oxford University Press

This chapter illustrates the study’s critical methodology by reviewing the major findings of the author’s previous research on Hugo’s early fiction from Han d’Islande (1823) to Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), as well as on Les Misérables (1862). The young Hugo’s use of exoticism, the mélange des genres, generational gaps, and aesthetic harmonies create elaborate congruities that evolve into intricate recursive patterns in the later works. Like Les Misérables, the last three novels of Hugo’s maturity use what Paul Ricoeur calls ‘discordant concordances’ to explore and communicate a vision of the world at once poetic and historical. The passage from the ‘poetics of harmony’ of the narratives of Hugo’s youth to the ‘poetics of transcendence’ of the 1860s and 1870s nevertheless constitutes not so much a break with his creative past as its recuperation in new, more complex forms

Keywords:   Hugo’s early fiction, Notre-Dame de Paris, Les Misérables, Paul Ricoeur, poetics of harmony, poetics of transcendence, recursive patterns, aesthetics

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