Hugo, Céard, and the Title of Une Belle Journée

Contemporary studies of Céard's Une Belle Journee (1881) have emphasized elements of its construction, such as its repudiation of plot and its pessimism. While critics have noted Céard's debt to Flaubert and Zola, there is a possible further indebtedness to Victor Hugo, which Céard may recognize in the title of this novel. The expression "une belle journée" may derive from the title of Hugo's one-day novel Le Dernier Jour d'un condamné (1829), where the expression appears as the narrator is sentenced. The phrase appears three times in Une Belle Journée, marking the decline of the protagonist. It also indicates its affiliation with Hugo in the tradition of the circadian or one-day novel. Thus, it is a mark of both subject and form, showing the possible influence of Hugo, who is mentioned three times in Céard's novel. (JAK)

Kestner, Joseph A
Volume 1983 Spring-Summer; 2(3-4): 354-356.