Nightmares of Absence: Hugo and 'Le Rouet d'Omphale'

This article offers a new reading of an understudied poem from Les Contemplations (1856), "Le Rouet d’Omphale." By analysing the poem’s rich web of intra- and intertextual allusions, from Ovid and Catullus to Hugo’s "La Pente de la rêverie" (1831), William Shakespeare (1864) and Le Rhin (1845), it becomes clear that Hugo’s fascination with the legend of Hercules and Omphale, a legend in which Hercules is humiliated and emasculated, is linked to his own terrors of non-existence that are intimately bound up with his insecurities about the act of creation. (FC)

Cox, Fiona.
Volume 2007 Spring-Summer; 35(3-4): 526-36.