Victor Hugo: History and the Other Text

The undoing of the text and the destruction of the book are closely related, in Hugo's work, to the theme of revolution. The important "Le Verso de la page" was literally dismantled. Hugo found a frontal treatment of the theme difficult. The problem: how to come to terms with a historic event that was to usher in the redemptive era of progress, yet led to relapse into tyranny and injustice? Even more difficult: how was one to reconcile hope and violence? The central issue is the figure of the guillotine; the focal point, the Terror. For Hugo, the justification of the expiatory regicide remains a justification of murder. History is experienced as anguish. Hugo dreams of transcending it, thereby denying it. Yet history is the text of God. Hugo experiences the double temptation and double impossibility of dealing both "textually" with the mystery of revolution and the mystery of God. (VB)

Brombert, Victor
Volume 1976-1977 Fall-Winter; 5(1-2): 23-33.