The Man Who Laughs

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Overview


The Man Who Laughs (first published in 1869) is Victor Hugo’s scathing indictment of the injustice and inequality within Britain’s political system. It is the story of Gwynplaine, the two-year-old heir to a rebel lord, who is abducted upon the orders of a vindictive monarch, and whose face is mutilated into a permanent grisly grin, then abandoned. After years of living in poverty, Gwynplaine is reintroduced to the aristocratic life and resolves to become the voice of the voiceless—whether he is heard or not. ...
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The Man Who Laughs

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Overview


The Man Who Laughs (first published in 1869) is Victor Hugo’s scathing indictment of the injustice and inequality within Britain’s political system. It is the story of Gwynplaine, the two-year-old heir to a rebel lord, who is abducted upon the orders of a vindictive monarch, and whose face is mutilated into a permanent grisly grin, then abandoned. After years of living in poverty, Gwynplaine is reintroduced to the aristocratic life and resolves to become the voice of the voiceless—whether he is heard or not. Author David Hine and artist Mark Stafford introduce Hugo’s classic to a new generation of fans in this graphic-novel adaptation of abduction, mutilation, loss, and prejudice.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The recent success of the stage adaptation of Les Miserables has made Hugo's name widely known to the general public. Atlantean Press marks this resurgence with the inauguration of a series of re-published works by Hugo. The Man Who Laughs ( L'Homme qui rit , 1869), generally unavailable in English since the turn of the century, is the first volume in the series. This translation, by an unidentified translator, remains highly readable. The work itself, however, despite the touching tale of the love between the blind Dea and the deformed Gwynplaine, is highly stylized, extremely long, and often tedious. It will be interesting primarily for readers wishing to gain familiarity with a lesser known work by the father of French romanticism and with the tastes of the French reading public at the time.-- Anthony Caprio, Oglethorpe Univ., Atlanta
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582873534
  • Publisher: North Books
  • Publication date: 12/28/2005
  • Series: Twelve-Point Series
  • Format: Library Binding

Meet the Author

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo (1802–1885) was one of the most prominent French writers and political figures of the 19th century. David Hine has worked in comics since the 1980s, and has written Batman for DC Comics, as well as Spider-Man and X-Men for Marvel Comics. He lives in London. Mark Stafford is a cartoonist-in-residence at the Cartoon Museum in London. He has collaborated with Costa award–winning Bryan Talbot on Cherubs! He lives in London.

 

Biography

Novelist, poet, dramatist, essayist, politician, and leader of the French Romantic movement from 1830 on, Victor-Marie Hugo was born in Besançon, France, on February 26, 1802. Hugo's early childhood was turbulent: His father, Joseph-Léopold, traveled as a general in Napoléon Bonaparte's army, forcing the family to move frequently. Weary of this upheaval, Hugo's mother, Sophie, separated from her husband and settled in Paris. Victor's brilliance declared itself early in the form of illustrations, plays, and nationally recognized verse. Against his mother's wishes, the passionate young man fell in love and secretly became engaged to Adèle Foucher in 1819. Following the death of his mother, and self-supporting thanks to a royal pension granted for his first book of odes, Hugo wed Adèle in 1822.

In the 1820s and 1830s, Victor Hugo came into his own as a writer and figurehead of the new Romanticism, a movement that sought to liberate literature from its stultifying classical influences. His 1827 preface to the play Cromwell proclaimed a new aesthetic inspired by Shakespeare, based on the shock effects of juxtaposing the grotesque with the sublime. The great success of Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) confirmed Hugo's primacy among the Romantics.

By 1830 the Hugos had four children. Exhausted from her pregnancies and her husband's insatiable sexual demands, Adèle began to sleep alone, and soon fell in love with Hugo's best friend, the critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve. They began an affair. The Hugos stayed together as friends, and in 1833 Hugo met the actress Juliette Drouet, who would remain his primary mistress until her death 50 years later.

Personal tragedy pursued Hugo relentlessly. His jealous brother Eugène went permanently insane following Victor's wedding to Adèle. His daughter, Léopoldine, together with her unborn child and her devoted husband, died at 19 in a boating accident on the Seine. Hugo never fully recovered from this loss.

Political ups and downs ensued as well, following the shift of Hugo's early royalist sympathies toward liberalism during the late 1820s. He first held political office in 1843, and as he became more engaged in France's social troubles, he was elected to the Constitutional Assembly following the February Revolution of 1848. After Napoléon III's coup d'état in 1851, Hugo's open opposition created hostilities that ended in his flight abroad from the new government.

Declining at least two offers of amnesty -- which would have meant curtailing his opposition to the Empire -- Hugo remained in exile in the Channel Islands for 19 years, until the fall of Napoléon III in 1870. Meanwhile, the seclusion of the islands enabled Hugo to write some of his most famous verse as well as Les Misérables (1862). When he returned to Paris, the country hailed him as a hero. Hugo then weathered, within a brief period, the siege of Paris, the institutionalization of his daughter Adèle for insanity, and the death of his two sons. Despite this personal anguish, the aging author remained committed to political change. He became an internationally revered figure who helped to preserve and shape the Third Republic and democracy in France. Hugo's death on May 22, 1885, generated intense national mourning; more than two million people joined his funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon, where he was buried.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Good To Know

Hugo was seen by his fans as a grand, larger-than-life character -- and rumors spread that he could eat half an ox in one sitting, fast for three days, and then work without stopping for a week.

Hugo owned a pet cat named Gavroche -- the name of one of the primary characters in Les Misérables.

The longest sentence ever written in literature is in Les Misérables; depending on the translation, it consists of about 800 words.

When Hugo published Les Misérables, he was on holiday. After not hearing anything about its reception for a few days, Hugo sent a telegram to his publisher, reading, simply:

"?"

The complete reply from the publisher:

"!"

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    1. Also Known As:
      Victor-Marie Hugo
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 26, 1802
    2. Place of Birth:
      Besançon, France
    1. Date of Death:
      May 22, 1885
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2002

    Another example of Hugo's literary brilliance.

    Although The Man Who Laughs is one of Hugo's easier novels to read, it is another shining example of his literary genius - his unique ability to portray the particulars of human nature in the most objective manner and to convey a memorable and passionate 'sense of life' represented by his characters. This novel gives new meaning to the saying 'never judge a book by its' cover.'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2000

    Emotional, deeply moving...

    I found this book to be somewhat long and tedious but nonetheless enchanting and captivating. The road Hugo takes you on is long, yet it is certainly worth the travel. The love story in this, along with the human tragedy will sweep you up and not let you go until the end. It was a very good read, and I am thirsting for more...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2005

    One of Hugo's masterpieces

    I have read this book when I was young, around age 17, and now again at age 45, and I am still impressed by the touching story and the particular style Hugo tried to introduce with this book; the style is an expression of extreme romanticism: like thrillers in our days, he wants to surprise readers with each sentence and keep their attention up all the time, not only by the events of the book, but also by the way he describes them. I read that after he published this book he gave up this way of writing, which makes it unique in a way. --- BTW, there is also a film from 1928 made on the basis of this book, directed by Paul Leni, with Conrad Veidt as Gwynplain, Mary Philbin as Dea, Brandon Hurst as Barkilphedro, and Olga Baclanova as Duchess Josiana. --- I highly recommend this book - it's after Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame his most successful work, I think!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2001

    Read this book

    This book touches on some very 'interesting' subjects - quite disturbing subthemes. It is too bad no one in America has heard of this unforgetable work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 23, 2009

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