Under Sentence of Death Or, a Criminal’s Last Hours
Author: Victor Hugo
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Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris, Hugo’s second novel, emphasizes the theme of ananke, a Greek word meaning fate or necessity. Ananke appears in the novel primarily as an inevitable transition; stylistically, the transition is from classicism to romanticism and, ultimately, from the human to the divine.
Notre-Dame Cathedral is the embodiment of what must be recognized as the permanence of the transition. Originally a Gallo-Roman temple to the classical deity Jupiter, it became a Christian basilica and later, in the 12th century, a Romanesque cathedral. As its construction continued into the 13th century, the Gothic style overtook and succeeded the Romanesque configuration; and the cathedral, completed in 1345, stood as the architectural script of its own history. The novel treats this cathedral as a statement of ananke rather than of any of its many particular characters.
This work published in 1874 is set during a stage of the French Revolution known as the Terror of 1793. It is the last novel by Victor Hugo, who intended it to be the first part of a cycle of works on the French Revolution.
In fact, it is a reflection of the author on the events that took place during the revolution, as well as on the legitimacy of it. It mixes fiction with reality to tell the story of three men: the aristocrat Lantenac; Gauvain, military chief of the republican army and the priest Cimourdain, who is a revolutionary. Ninety-Three is divided into three parts, each of which tells a different story and offers the reader different visions of this event of great relevance for the history of Europe. Both republicans and royalists are portrayed as individuals willing to perform even the cruelest act in order to defend their ideals, completely devoted to their causes.
Claude Gueux was first published in 1834 and is one of the works in which Victor Hugo shows his rejection of the death penalty. The story mixes reality with fiction, narrating the fate of a man -Claude Gueux- who is condemned to prison.
The events are set in Paris in the early nineteenth century, where the protagonist of the story is driven to despair by the lack of food and fire to survive the winter, so he decides to commit a robbery to get food for himself, his woman and son.
As a result of this event he is sent to the Clairvaux prison where he experiences horrors at the hands of the director of the prison, but also relates and creates a bond of friendship with another prisoner named Albin. Due to an arbitrary and malicious decision by the director, a series of consequences for the protagonist’s life will be unleashed.
Told Under Canvas
Told Under Canvas is a short work by Victor Hugo that will arouse the curiosity of those who immerse themselves in its pages. It tells us the story of Captain Leopold D’Auverney, who is a man who inspires in others a feeling of respect.
In addition to being described as a reserved man, with nothing about him that draws attention at first glance, Leopold D’Auverney is also a person who has been able to travel extensively and see much of the world, but in spite of this the captain considers that there is no incident in his life that deserves to be repeated.
We invite you to give a chance to this work of Victor Hugo, that although perhaps it is not as recognized as other of his writings, it is a story that deserves to be read and enjoyed for the quality of his writing.
The origin of this book is due to a rather curious fact: François-Victor, Victor Hugo’s son, was translating into French the works of the English playwright, so his father decided to write the prologue to this translation.
This prologue became a book of more than 500 pages in which the French writer wrote an essay on the life and work of William Shakespeare, literary creation and romanticism in literature. This event took place after Victor went into exile with his family on the island of Jersey in 1852.
Those who have not yet read Shakespeare will find in this book a guide to immerse themselves in his magnificent works. On the other hand, those who have read it will surely agree with Victor Hugo’s ideas about Shakespeare’s genius.