Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Editorial

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Editorial

Article excerpt

Editorial

A hundred years after his death, the time seems ripe to attempt to fathom the depths of Hugo "the manocean', to examine his work with a more dispassionate eye and to bring to light the essential unity of the immense universe of a poet who once described himself, with more than a touch of self-mocking humour, as "the Gargantua of things beautiful'.

Although Victor Hugo remains, at least in France, part of the collective memory, he is increasingly remembered in a fragmentary, foreshortened way. The extraordinary activity and interest aroused by the celebration of his centenary is evidence that he has lost none of his force and vitality. Yet, paradoxically, he remains both a poorly-known and a controversial figure.

The very size of his work, whose restless tentacles reach out in every direction, mask from our view both its central core and its overall scope. Each of us sees him in terms of one or other of the stereotyped, almost legendary images of him that, not without some prompting by the poet himself, have successively been projected--the bourgeois poet, the libertarian humanist popularized by the Third Republic, the grandiloquent sage, the bearded, faun-like grandfather.

Today such simplistic selectivity is no longer possible. …

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