Narrative Space and Androgyny in Les Misérables

The opposition of linear and tortuous space in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables reflects patterns of "masculinity" and "femininity" that are reconciled in the novel's hero, Jean Valjean. Combining Théardier's crooked, disjointed, anarchic world and Javert's geometric regularity – both figurations of the infernal – Valjean represents a more complex, hybrid order that corresponds to his multiple gender roles in the text. His recursive function, by which he saves both himself and others, follows a spiraling, indirect path upward. This romantic architectonics is that of history and poetry alike. Like progress, the author shapes the ideal from recycled waste. (KMG)
Grossman, Kathryn M
Volume 1991-1992 Fall-Winter; 20(1-2): 97-106