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Commemorating TraumaThe Paris Commune and Its Cultural Aftermath$
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Peter Starr

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226030

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823226030.001.0001

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Mourning Triumphant: Hugo's Terrible Year(s)

Mourning Triumphant: Hugo's Terrible Year(s)

(p.60) 3 Mourning Triumphant: Hugo's Terrible Year(s)
Commemorating Trauma

Peter Starr

Fordham University Press

This chapter begins by examining the place of melancholy and melancholic historicity in Hugo's texts on or around the Terrible Year. It moves on to an examination of why confusion for Hugo is not something simply to be overcome through the cycling of history's melancholic spiral and then concludes with the question of whether Hugo's work of the period leaves room for revolution. Reading the two literary works of Victor Hugo involves a markedly different set of frustrations than does the reading of La Débâcle. Where Zola's novel mimics the anxieties of war by holding war's onset in maddening abeyance, all the while claiming precise understanding of the root causes of the coming disasters, L'Année terrible and Quatre-vingt-treize tend to withhold synoptic cultural diagnosis as they threaten to submerge the reader in undigested detail and prophetic bombast. Like Zola, Hugo clearly cultivates chaos to rhetorical effect.

Keywords:   Victor Hugo, Terrible Year, L'Année terrible, Quatre-vingt-treize, melancholy, chaos

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