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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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Romanticism and Utopia: Quatrevingt-Treize and Endless Revolution

Romanticism and Utopia: Quatrevingt-Treize and Endless Revolution

(p.173) 4 Romanticism and Utopia: Quatrevingt-Treize and Endless Revolution
The Later Novels of Victor Hugo

Kathryn M. Grossman

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 turns to Hugo’s Quatrevingt-Treize (1874), a meditation on the French Revolution composed in the wake of the bloody Paris Commune. Set in both Paris and Brittany during the Reign of Terror, the text explores the question of violence in the service of revolutionary ideals, thereby completing Hugo’s lifelong reflections on the sublime and the grotesque. Three generations fight for their divergent visions of the nation’s past, present, and future in the exotic, unchartered terrain of north-west France. But Hugo’s play on space and time contains not just a political but also a personal element. The poet’s intertextual dialogue with his celebrated British counterparts now includes his Victorian contemporary, Charles Dickens, as well. The novel’s reply to A Tale of Two Cities provides insights into Hugo’s singular conception of the role of poetry in shaping his narrative and the future French republic alike

Keywords:   Quatrevingt-Treize, Reign of Terror, French Revolution, exoticism, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, vision, poetry

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