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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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Dystopia and Poetic Vision in L’Homme qui rit

Dystopia and Poetic Vision in L’Homme qui rit

(p.94) 3 Dystopia and Poetic Vision in L’Homme qui rit
The Later Novels of Victor Hugo

Kathryn M. Grossman

Oxford University Press

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

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