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Victor Hugo

VICTOR HUGO

«J’ai commencé à revivre en découvrant non pas la vanité totale mais l’insuffisance de la critique littéraire […] face aux textes littéraires et culturels qu’elle s’imagine dominer.» (René Girard, Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde)

The victim’s mimetic analysis in Victor Hugo’s work.

If Girard considered literature as a privileged ground of the dynamic truths which cause human individual and social acting, the literary criticism exploited the potentialities concerning the mimetic theory (lust, scapegoat mechanism).
Our research aims to use Girard’s "paradigm" to re-examine the French novelist, playwright and poet’s wide production, in an anthropological perspective.
In his works there are many "scenes of ordinary persecution" against scapegoats, monsters and doubles, scenes following each other without a break.
It’s an artistic creation pervaded with a deep feeling of pity towards wretched, persecuted and suffering people; that is a meaningful evidence of Hugo’s heterodox but authentic Christianity, his God-Victim religion. All that has never been enlightened enough by Girard’s remarks: he has always seen Hugo’s victim (a romantic one), as a reflex of Lucifer’s pride and of great Olympus’ mimetic "madness".
This interpretative work (through a series of articles which are published or in course of publication in French literature reviews, in comparative, literary and philosophic reviews), aims to continue – starting from the same premises but arriving at very different conclusions – the reading of Hugo’s works, begun in the Sixties by the literary critic Girard, taking into account Girard’s theories of the Seventies and Eighties: the theories of the "anthropologist" and "biblical exegete".
The global image which comes out of the research is that of an author with an indomitable victim vocation and able to denounce the violence towards the weakest people in modern societies, with peerless sensitiveness.