The Man Who Laughs

The Man Who Laughs

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by Victor Hugo, Mark Stafford
     
 

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The Man Who Laughs (also published under the title By Order of the King) is a novel by Victor Hugo, originally published in April 1869 under the French title L'Homme qui rit. Although among Hugo's most obscure works, it was adapted into a popular 1928 film, directed by Paul Leni and starring Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin and Olga Baclanova.
The first major character… See more details below

Overview

The Man Who Laughs (also published under the title By Order of the King) is a novel by Victor Hugo, originally published in April 1869 under the French title L'Homme qui rit. Although among Hugo's most obscure works, it was adapted into a popular 1928 film, directed by Paul Leni and starring Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin and Olga Baclanova.
The first major character whom the reader is introduced to is a mountebank who dresses in bearskins and calls himself Ursus. His only companion is a large domesticated wolf, whom Ursus has named Homo (Latin for "man", in a pun over the Hobbesian saying "homo homini lupus", meaning "man is a wolf to his fellow man."). Ursus lives in a caravan, which he conveys to holiday fairs and markets throughout southern England, where he sells folk remedies.
The action moves to an English sea coast, on the night of January 29, 1690. A group of wanderers, their identities left unrevealed to the reader, are urgently loading a ship for departure. A boy, ten years old, is among their company, but they leave him behind and cast off.
The desperate boy, barefoot and starving, wanders through a snowstorm and reaches a gibbet, where he finds the corpse of a hanged criminal. The dead man is wearing shoes: utterly worthless to him now, yet precious to this boy. In the meantime, the wanderers' ship sinks after a long struggle with the sea in the English Channel. After walking some more, the boy finds a ragged woman, frozen to death.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist

“Hine’s script neither shrinks from nor winks at the tale’s over-the-top melodrama, and Stafford’s elaborately cursive and pointy drawing style, awash in darkness and saturated colors, expresses it near perfectly.”
Village Voice

“Although his visage inspired Batman’s most splendiferous villain, the Joker, Gwynplaine’s commonsense polemics still resonate, whether in Occupy protests or speeches by Elizabeth Warren.”
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781906838584
Publisher:
SelfMadeHero
Publication date:
09/09/2014
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
881,280
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.40(d)

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