Tuesday, 22/06/2021 - 08:20

The Man Who Laughs is a novel by Victor Hugo.

08:54 | 05/10/2019

The Man Who Laughs is a novel by Victor Hugo, originally published in April 1869 under the French title L’Homme qui rit. It was adapted into a popular 1928 film, directed by Paul Leni and starring Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin and Olga Baclanova.
Hugo wrote The Man Who Laughs, or the Laughing Man, over a period of 15 months while he was living in the Channel Islands, having been exiled from his native France because of the controversial political content of his previous novels. The Man Who Laughs is argued to be one of Hugo’s greatest works.

In late 17th-century England, a homeless boy named Gwynplaine rescues an infant girl during a snowstorm, her mother having frozen to death. They meet an itinerant carnival vendor who calls himself Ursus, and his pet wolf, Homo. Gwynplaine’s mouth has been mutilated into a perpetual grin; Ursus is initially horrified, then moved to pity, and he takes them in. 15 years later, Gwynplaine has grown into a strong young man, attractive except for his distorted visage. The girl, now named Dea, is blind, and has grown into a beautiful and innocent young woman. By touching his face, Dea concludes that Gwynplaine is perpetually happy. They fall in love. Ursus and his surrogate children earn a meagre living in the fairs of southern England. Gwynplaine keeps the lower half of his face concealed. In each town, Gwynplaine gives a stage performance in which the crowds are provoked to laughter when Gwynplaine reveals his grotesque face.



Preliminary Chapter. Ursus

Another Preliminary Chapter. The Comprachicos

Part I

Book the first. Night not so black as man.

I. Portland Bill

II. Left Alone

III. Alone

IV. Questions

V. The Tree of Human Invention

VI. Struggle between Death and Night

VII. The North Point of Portland

Book the second. The hooker at sea

I.      Superhuman Laws

II.    Our First Rough Sketches Filled in

III.   Troubled Men on the Troubled Sea

IV.    A Cloud Different from the Others enters on the Scene

V.    Hardquanonne

VI.  They Think that Help is at Hand

VII.  Superhuman Horrors

VIII. Nix et Nox

IX.  The Charge Confided to a Raging Sea

X.   The Colossal Savage, the Storm

XI.  The Caskets

XII.  Face to Face with the Rock

XIII. Face to Face with Night

XIV. Ortach

XV. Portentosum Mare

XVI. The Problem Suddenly Works in Silence

XVII. The Last Resource

XVIII. The Highest Resource

Book the third. The child in the shadow

I. Chesil

II. The Effect of Snow

III. A Burden Makes a Rough Road Rougher

IV. Another Form of Desert

V. Misanthropy Plays Its Pranks

VI. The Awaking

Part II.

Book the first. The everlasting presence of the past. Man reflects man.

I. Lord Clancharlie

II. Lord David Dirry-Moir

III. The Duchess Josiana

IV. The Leader of Fashion

V. Queen Anne

VI. Barkilphedro

VII. Barkilphedro Gnaws His Way

VIII. Inferi

IX. Hate is as Strong as Love

X. The Flame which would be Seen if Man were Transparent

XI. Barkilphedro in Ambuscade

XII. Scotland, Ireland, and England

Book the second. Gwynplaine and dea.

I. Wherein we see the Face of Him of whom we have hitherto seen only the Acts

II. Dea

III. “Oculos non Habet, et Videt”

IV. Well-matched Lovers

V. The Blue Sky through the Black Cloud

VI. Ursus as Tutor, and Ursus as Guardian

VII. Blindness Gives Lessons in Clairvoyance

VIII. Not only Happiness, but Prosperity

IX. Absurdities which Folks without Taste call Poetry

X. An Outsider’s View of Men and Things

XI. Gwynplaine Thinks Justice, and Ursus Talks Truth

XII. Ursus the Poet Drags on Ursus the Philosopher

Book the third. The beginning of the fissure

I. The Tadcaster Inn

II. Open-Air Eloquence

III. Where the Passer-by Reappears

IV. Contraries Fraternize in Hate

V. The Wapentake

VI. The Mouse Examined by the Cats

VII. Why Should a Gold Piece Lower Itself by Mixing with a Heap of Pennies?

VIII. Symptoms of Poisoning

IX. Abyssus Abyssum Vocat

Book the fourth. The cell of torture

I.    The Temptation of St. Gwynplaine

II.    From Gay to Grave

III.   Lex, Rex, Fex

IV.   Ursus Spies the Police

V.    A Fearful Place

VI.  The Kind of Magistracy under the Wigs of Former Days

VII. Shuddering

VIII. Lamentation

Book the fifth. The sea and fate are moved by the same breath.

I. The Durability of Fragile Things

II. The Waif Knows Its Own Course

III. An Awakening

IV. Fascination

V. We Think We Remember; We Forget

Book the sixth. Ursus under different aspects. 

I. What the Misanthrope said

II. What He did

III. Complications

IV. Moenibus Surdis Campana Muta

V. State Policy Deals with Little Matters as Well as with Great

Book the seventh. The titaness

I. The Awakening

II. The Resemblance of a Palace to a Wood

III. Eve

IV. Satan

V. They Recognize, but do not Know, Each Other

Book the eighth. The capitol and things around it.                                 

I.       Analysis of Majestic Matters

II.      Impartiality

III.     The Old Hall

IV.     The Old Chamber

V.      Aristocratic Gossip

VI.    The High and the Low

VII.   Storms of Men are Worse than Storms of Oceans

VIII.  He would be a Good Brother, were he not a Good Son

Book the ninth. In ruins

I.      It is through Excess of Greatness that Man reaches Excess of Misery

II.     The Dregs

Conclusion. The night and the sea

I.      A Watch-dog may be a Guardian Angel

II.     Barkilphedro, having aimed at the Eagle, brings down the Dove

III.    Paradise Regained Below

IV.    Nay; on High!


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