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Nightmares of absence: Hugo and "Le Rouet d'Omphale".

"Le Rouet d'Omphale" (Hugo, 1973, 91) is a poem haunted by absences. The very title of the poem points to absence, since Hugo evokes the legend of Hercules and Omphale only to exclude them and to focus upon the spinning wheel. This legend recounts a humiliating episode in Hercules' career as, taken into captivity by Omphale, queen of Lydia, he is forced to wear womens' clothing and hold a spindle, while Omphale sports his lion skin and wields his club. The exchange of attributes both highlights Hercules' vulnerability and illustrates the danger of woman's domination of man. (1) By removing the figures of Hercules and Omphale from the scene Hugo offers a radically new reading of the myth. This makes it all the more surprising that the poem has been so overlooked by critics. Suzanne Nash gives a vivid account of the real and imaginary pictures within the poem (Nash, 1976, 66-8), but apart from her study this poem has attracted no detailed critical study. Albouy has observed of Hugo that "c'est de son experience de visionnaire, de ses cauchemars, de ses obsessions, qu'il tire ses interpretations de la mythologie antique." (Albouy, 1963, 116); this article will show that the poem's rich web of intra- and intertextual allusions offers one of the most powerful depictions we have of Hugo's anxieties about his poetic identity.

I am using the term intratextual to refer to the way in which this poem echoes Hugo's meditations upon the art of poetry and the role of the poet within both his critical work and his other poems. Hugo's depictions of the archetypal poet probe the cruelty of the poet's role, as in the presentation of Shakespeare in "Le Poete," or negotiate the discrepancy between the frailties of the poet as a mortal and his superhuman achievements as a poet. In the 1840-45 fragment of a preface for a projected collection of poems entitled Les Contemplations d'Olympio he observes that:
   il vient une certaine heure dans la vie ou, l'horizon
   s'agrandissant sans cesse, un homme se sent trop petit pour
   continuer de parler en son nom. Il se cree alors, poete, philosophe
   ou penseur, une figure dans laquelle il se personnifie et
   s'incarne. C'est encore l'homme, mais ce n'est plus le moi. (Hugo,
   1964, 2: 1524)


Hugo chooses to name his lyric self Olympio, a name that evokes Mount Olympus, home of the gods, and that is therefore immediately suggestive of a superhuman being, a genius straddling the human and divine worlds. (2) Not only was it standard practice for the Romantics to create a double for themselves who could embody their aspirations and anxieties, it was also part of the Romantic agenda to attempt to speak for all people, to embody Everyman. For Hugo, however, this is not simply the function of the visionary, it is at the same time a way of countering a vertiginous and agoraphobic dread, a sense of his self dissolving in the ever-expanding universe. But there is a paradox here in that the more he adopts poetic personae to speak in the voices of others the more tenuous becomes his sense of self, and it is significant that when he describes elsewhere this process of creating a poetic persona he employs the imagery of decomposition:
   Mon moi se decompose en Olympio: la lyre
      Herman: l'amour
      Maglia: le rire
      Hierro: le combat (3)


It is such a disintegration of the self that Hugo perceives in the character of Hamlet, and precisely the reason why Hamlet is the character out of all poetry whom he finds most disturbing: "Nulle figure, parmi celles que les poetes (sic) ont creees n'est plus poignante et plus inquietante. Le doute, conseille par un fantome, voila Hamlet. [...] Il est tourmente par cette vie possible, compliquee de realite et de chimere, dont nous avons tous l'anxiete" (Hugo, 1985, 361). It is in his analysis of Hamlet that Hugo provides us with a depiction of his most absolute terror:
   Avez-vous jamais eu en dormant le cauchemar de la course ou de la
   fuite, et essaye de vous hater, et senti l'ankylose de vos genoux,
   la pesanteur de vos bras, l'horreur de vos mains paralysees,
   l'impossibilite du geste? Ce cauchemar, Hamlet le subit eveille.
   Hamlet n'est pas dans le lieu ou est sa vie. Il a toujours l'air
   d'un homme qui vous parle de l'autre bord d'un fleuve. Il vous
   appelle en meme temps qu'il vous questionne. Il est a distance de
   la catastrophe dans laquelle il se meut, du passant qu'il
   interroge, de la pensee qu'il porte, de l'action qu'il fait. Il
   semble ne pas toucher meme a ce qu'il broie. C'est l'isolement a sa
   plus haute puissance. L'indecision en effet est une solitude. Vous
   n'avez meme pas votre volonte avec vous. Il semble que votre moi se
   soit absente et vous ait laisse la. (Hugo, 1985, 362)


In this account the real horror is not sheer panic at not knowing what to do, but rather the terror of being dead and at the same time of knowing oneself to be dead. It is a version of the 'peur de l'inanime vivant' which permeates Hugo's writing. (4) At the end of the passage Hugo personalises the account by an abrupt switch of narrative voice--you have left the scene, but a shell of yourself remains to be aware of your absence, of the fact that you don't really exist: "Il semble que votre moi se soit absente et vous ait laisse la." (5) The same paralysis and powerlessness are depicted in the creative underworld of 'La Pente de la reverie' (1830) when Hugo envisages himself calling out to fellow shades, none of whom respond. His Underworld is mapped onto that of Dante, who also descended via spirals and circles, and Virgil whose Aeneas also barely returned from his dark journey: (6)
      Une pente insensible
   Va du inonde reel a la sphere invisible;
   La spirale est profonde, et quand on y descend
   Sans cesse se prolonge et va s'elargissant
   Et pour avoir touche quelque enigme fatale
   De ce voyage obscur souvent on revient pale!
   [...]
   Mille ouvriers humains, laissant partout leurs traces,
   Travaillaient nuit et jour, montant, croisant leurs pas,
   Parlant chacun leur langue et ne s'entendant pas;
   Et moi je parcourais, cherchant qui me reponde,
   De degres en degres cette Babel du monde.
   J'etais seul. (Hugo, 1880, 361, 365)


Piroue, echoing the Sibyl's warnings to Aeneas about embarking upon so perilous a journey, likens such an experience to the experience of madness: "Ce voyage est sans retour. Il s'appelle la folie. Le songe est alors une guerre entre un reel devenu exsangue et une intelligence debilitee. Une situation intermediaire, un sursis infernal, d'etranges limbes" (Piroue, 1985, 144). Furthermore Gaudon sees this poem as a turning point in Hugo's career, "le poeme d'un conflit entre deux univers" (Gaudon, 1969, 47). These two universes are Hugo's past poetic identity composed of "poesie pittoresque, poesie intimiste, poesie combattante, poesie qui pense" (Gaudon, 1969, 53) and the presentiment of Hugo's future work when his primary aim will be meditating on the mysteries of infinity. Gaudon too hears the note of warning contained in the above poem: "La Pente de la reverie etait, en meme temps qu'un point de depart, une mise en garde, un avertissement que le poete se donnait a lui-meme. Plus de trente ans avant Promontorium somnii, Hugo savait deja qu'il fallait resister a la plongee et que le moment n'etait pas encore venu de se risquer le grand naufrage de l'infini. Il faut se lester de realite." (Gaudon, 1969, 53).

The terrors of Hugo's underworld are made all the more dreadful if we compare his experience to the experiences of Dante and Aeneas. Where Dante's self is confirmed as a poet, as a Christian, as a man, where Aeneas is given the necessary encouragement and confidence to attain the self he needs as the founder of Rome, Hugo simply discovers that there is no self there that can be validated by anyone. Furthermore, while Dante's journey involves ever-narrowing spirals leading him further into Hell, Hugo's circles expand, leaving him in his own agoraphobic nightmare, alone and unvalidated in the heart of the universe. His Underworld is one where he can find no-one to respond to him and no guise into which he can step.

In his critical work also Hugo acknowledges the devastating dangers of plumbing the creative imagination, recognising the fact that there are those whose sense of self is too fragile to withstand the experience. And once again he uses the imagery of paralysis to depict the horror: "Il y a des songeurs qui sont ce pauvre insecte qui n'a point su voler et qui ne peut marcher; le reve, eblouissant et epouvantable, se jette sur eux [...] et les detruit" (Hugo, 1985, 652). As he develops the point Hugo likens the delving into the self to the descent into a mine with all its attendant dangers: "La reverie est un creusement [...] Le moi, c'est la la spirale vertigineuse. Y penetrer trop avant effare le songeur ... Ces empietements sur l'ombre ne sont pas sans danger. La reverie a ses morts, les fous. On rencontre ca et la dans ces obscurites des cadavres d'intelligences, Tasse, Pascal, Swedenborg. Ces fouilleurs de l'ame humaine sont des mineurs tres exposes" (Hugo, 1985, 652-3). Once they have poured their identities into literary creation the likes of Tasso, Pascal and Swedenborg are nothing more than empty shells--their vitality now animates the creatures of their imagination: "Les poetes ont en eux un reflecteur, l'observation, et un condensateur, l'emotion; de la ces grands spectres lumineux qui sortent de leur cerveau et qui s'en vont flamboyer a jamais sur la tenebreuse muraille humaine. Ces fantomes sont. Exister autant qu'Achille, ce serait l'ambition d'Alexandre" (Hugo, 1985, 34z). The lives of flesh-and-blood human beings are as nothing unless they are mapped onto the richer lives of literary creations. Hugo's assertion of the lives of literary personae--"Ces fantomes sont"--is remarkably confident when contrasted with his perception of the life of the poet outside art:
   Rien ne reste de nous; notre oeuvre est un probleme.
   L'homme, fantome errant, passe sans laisser meme
      Son ombre sur le mur. (Hugo, 1880, 314)


The problems with the poet's creation stem precisely from this division of the self, which has led Hugo to pour his lyricism into a persona called Olympio. The idea of a divided self gained currency in the nineteenth century as a method of interpreting dreams or of unravelling madness. (7) Thinkers such as the polymath Maury, and the psychologist and philosopher Delboeuf, examined the phenomenon of dialogue in dreams and insane rantings, and concluded that the various voices constituted different aspects of the personality. In 1853 Dumas likened this process to the workings of literary creation in an introduction he wrote to Nerval's "El Deschidado" in which he alludes to the poet's frequent bouts of illness as he analyses the way in which Nerval identifies with his characters: "lorsqu'un travail quelconque l'a fort preoccupe, l'imagination, cette folle du logis, en chasse la raison, qui n'en est que la maitresse; alors que la premiere reste seule, toute-puissante, dans ce cerveau nourri de reves et d'hallucinations, ni plus ni moins qu'un fumeur d'opium du Caire, ou qu'un mangeur d'haschisch d'Alger ..." (Nerval, 1960, i, 149). Hugo's difficulty is that there us no unified identity strong enough to withstand this division into a multiplicity of selves. He observed that "il faut que le songeur soit plus fort que le songe" (Hugo, 1985, 652); the above poem articulates the feelings of emptiness that ensue when this is not the case, when the poet's vitality is spent. Once again we are in the realms of nightmare; as Hugo probes the horror of this living death, the poet is presented as a wandering shade who leaves no trace as he passes by, no shadow on the wall.

It is my contention that "Le Rouet d'Omphale" offers us one of the most vivid pictures of this terror of non-existence. Its effects are all the more potent in that Hugo has selected a myth that was well-known from its many pictorial representations, and removed its central characters from the scene. In the minds of his readers the figures of Hercules and Omphale are present, yet as soon as we consult Hugo's poem there is only an absence, and it is this necessarily acute awareness of their absence that creates the poem's effect.

Of all the characters from the ancient world Hercules offers the most obvious parallels with Hugo's representation of himself. Not only does Hugo evoke Mount Olympus through naming his lyrical self Olympio, he also took pains throughout his poetic career to show that he walked the boundary dividing the human from the divine world. Hercules, more than any other character from ancient myth, is half-human and hall-divine, and it is for his superhuman achievements, his labours, that he is remembered. Hugo commemorates some of these in the fourth verse.

The episode with Omphale enables Hugo implicitly to draw a parallel between his poetic career and Hercules' heroic career, as the spinning wheel performs its traditional literary role by inviting us to meditate upon the act of writing (the threads of a narrative), as well as on human destiny (the threads of the Parcae, the Fates). The parallels between Hercules and the poet are strengthened by the similarities between Hercules' wounded victims:
   Cependant, odieux, effroyables, enormes,
   Dans le fond du palais, vingt fantomes difformes,
   Vingt monstres tout sanglants, qu'on ne voit qu'a demi,
   Errent en foule autour du rouet endormi. (Hugo, 1973, 91)


and the poetic creations of Shakespeare, the archetypal poet depicted in "Le Poete":
   Les sujets monstrueux qu'il a pris et vaincus
   Ralent autour de lui, splendides ou difformes [...]
   Dans son oeuvre, du drame effrayant alphabet,
   Il se repose; ainsi le noir lion des jongles
   S'endort dans l'antre immense avec du sang aux ongles. (Hugo, 1973,
      175)


Shakespeare is depicted as a lion--in the traditional depiction of Hercules and Omphale Hercules has handed over his leonine attributes to Omphale. The effect of this is that his conquests wander aimlessly without any fixed centre to give them meaning. They are only able to attain a half-life that can barely be glimpsed "qu'on ne voit qu'a demi." And the restlessness of these maimed ghosts establishes an atmosphere of disquiet, which is particularly marked in 'Le Rouet d'Omphale' where the wandering presents so stark a contrast to the deathly stillness of the rest of the scene--the picture frozen on the plinth, the spinning wheel that has ceased to spin. The tension between this mobility and stasis is especially disturbing in the second stanza:
   Un ouvrier d'Egine a sculpte sur la plinthe
   Europe, dont un dieu n'ecoute pas la plainte.
   La taureau blanc l'emporte. Europe sans espoir
   Crie, et baissant les yeux, s'epouvante de voir
   L'ocean monstrueux qui baise ses pieds nus.


At first sight the episode seems to invite comparison with the story of Europa as recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses, but the parallel is not a rich one; the only common element worth noting is that both writers arrest their Europas and still their movements. Ovid's Europa is suspended at the end of Book 2 of the Metamorphoses, while Hugo petrifies Europa's moment of blind terror by placing the caesura after the syllable "Crie" at the beginning of the line. In doing so he is emulating his own anonymous craftsman, the "ouvrier" of the first line, who has situated Europa within this one terrible moment for all eternity. The stanza brings to life once more all Hugo's fascinated terror of such frozen moments, and in particular his memories from his journey along the Rhine where he viewed Charlemagne's sarcophagus at Aix-la-Chapelle, on which he round sculpted the abduction of another young girl, Proserpina:
   La est le sarcophage de Charlemagne. C'est un magnifique cercueil
   romain en marbre blanc, sur la face anterieure duquel est sculpte
   du ciseau le plus magistral l'enlevement de Proserpine. l'ai
   longtemps contemple ce bas-relief qui a deux mille ans. A
   l'extremite de la composition quatre chevaux frenetiques, a la fois
   infernaux et divins, conduits par Mercure, entrainent vers un
   gouffre entr'ouvert dans la plinthe, un char sur lequel crie, lutte
   et se tord avec desespoir Proserpine saisie par Pluton.

      La main robuste du dieu presse la gorge demi-nue de la jeune
   fille qui se renverse en arriere et dont la tete echevelee
   rencontre la figure droite et impassible de la Minerve casquee.
   Pluton emporte Proserpine a laquelle Minerve, la conseillere, parle
   bas a l'oreille. L'Amour souriant est assis sur le char entre les
   jambes colossales de Pluton. Derriere Proserpine se debat selon les
   lignes les plus fieres et les plus sculp turales le groupe des
   nymphes et des furies. Les compagnes de Proserpine s'efforcent
   d'arreter un char attele de deux dragons ailes et ignivomes, qui
   est la comme une voiture de suite. Une des jeunes deesses qui a
   saisi hardiment un dragon par les ailes lui fait pousser des cris
   de douleur. Ce bas-relief est un poeme. C'est de la sculpture
   violente, vigoureuse, exorbitante, superbe, un peu emphatique,
   comme en faisait la Rome paienne, comme en eut fait Rubens. (Hugo,
   1987, 66)


The picture is both seething with activity and horrifyingly still. As in "Le Rouet d'Omphale" the efficacy of the work lies in a tension between frenzied activity and the appalling violence wrought by the artist who petrifies this movement, who stills the characters within a moment of terror for all eternity. Hugo comments on this terrible energy a little later in Le Rhin: "le ne sais quelle idee effrayante et fatale se degage, a l'insu peut-etre du sculpteur luimeme, de ce sombre poeme" (Hugo, 1987, 82). In "Le Rouet d'Omphale" Hugo sharpens this energy through his constant reminders that the spinning wheel is simply asleep, and that the thread is ready and waiting to be spun once more--it is "un rouet qui dort" (line 12), "un rouet endormi" (line 16) "ou pend un fil souple et lie" (line 23).

This thread not only symbolises the artistic process but also evokes anxieties about human destiny. Hugo capitalises on the imagery to establish links between this poem and Catullus 64 which are far more suggestive than the more obvious connections with Ovid's Metamorphoses. Catullus presents a celebratory wedding hymn for the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, the parents of Achilles, but is diverted for half of the poem as he focusses on a woven coverlet depicting the desertion of Ariadne by Theseus. This offers yet another example of a young woman imperilled at sea whose misfortune has been frozen into art, but as an intertext of "Le Rouet d'Omphale" Catullus 64 is most sinister once the Parcae, the sisters of Fate, have been introduced:
   whilst in the meantime, swaying their bodies with palsied motion,
   the Parcae begin to utter soothsaying chants. [ ... ] The left hand
   drew the distaff clothed with soft wool; then the right hand,
   lightly drawing out the threads, with upturned fingers shaped them,
   with their teeth they still plucked the threads and made the work
   even. Bitten ends of wool clung to their dry lips, which had before
   stood out from the smooth yarn: and at their feet soft fleeces of
   white-shining wool were kept safe in baskets of osier. (Catullus,
   1962,119)


In Hugo's account also the baskets of wool are kept close to the spinning wheel to ensure that the spinning can continue:
   Des aiguilles, du fil, des boites demi-closes, Les laines de Milet,
   peintes de pourpre et d'or, Emplissent un panier pres du rouet qui
   dort.


Hugo specifies that the wool is from Miletus whose history is intimately bound up both with Hercules and with the family of Ariadne. (8) It is through oblique references and parallel pictures that Hugo ensures that the ghosts from Catullus 64 also roam about the spinning wheel. And once again it is the dichotomy between movement and stasis that creates the tension. In Catullus 64 the Parcae maintain the pulse of the action by their refrain: "but run ye on, drawing the woof threads which the Fates follow, ye spindles, run" (Catullus, 1962, 121). In Hugo's picture these sisters of Fate are silent and the spindles have stopped running. Nonetheless the fearful ghosts from Hercules' past continue to pace restlessly. The poem shuttles between Hugo's phobias (9)--on the one hand it is full of the horror of living death 'Tinanime vivant"; on the other hand it is a work ostensibly about the superhuman Hercules--and yet Hercules is utterly absent from the poem. As Suzanne Nash points out the real pictures within the poem serve to evoke the absent encounter between Hercules and Omphale (68). All that remains are the maimed ghosts of his victims. Through this poem Hugo is stepping into the guise of the humiliated, emasculated Hercules to glimpse a world where he too will have lost any notion of ultimate control. He is staring at his greatest terror--a world where he figures only as an absence, a world where there is no Hugo, where he is unable to establish an immortal, coherent self from the various roles he has been playing. He touched upon this fear in his journey along the Rhine where his observation: "Bientot ces poemes de marbre mourront, les poetes sont deja morts. Ne le pensez-vous pas, Louis? le plus amer des denis de justice, c'est l'oubli" (10) makes a mockery of the ancient topos, articulated most famously by Horace and Ovid, of poems outliving monuments of brass and stone. (11) Hugo knows that he will disappear, and the act of creation is so tightly bound up in his own identity that he can never really imagine his characters attaining a full existence without him. Like his heroes Dante and Shakespeare he has created characters who are "demi-chimere, demi-verite" (12) composed of both man and ghost. His present self looks in at a future where there will be no self, where there will be nothing but the rags of his work with no identity to animate them. And this is the power of all of Hugo's abortive intertexts. He evokes the figure of Europa only to throw away the possible Ovidian resonances. He develops the connections with Catullus 64, but the greatest power here is to evoke a void more terrifying even than the work of the Parcae. And behind all these young women threatened by the waves hovers the ghost of Leopoldine, Hugo's daughter who died by drowning. It is impossible to believe that Hugo could have written that second stanza without thinking of her cry in that last terrified moment when she realised she was going to drown, and impossible to think that such a moment would not be frozen within Hugo's consciousness, that he would not be playing it over and over again. Yet Hugo does not write Leopoldine explitily into the poem--rather, he allows the context of the poem, its presence in a volume written in the shadow of Leopoldine's tomb, to invoke her absence for him. The poem is haunted by the ghosts of these stories that are never fully articulated. Like Hercules' monsters they are presences "qu'on ne voit qu'a demi." And this is precisely because Hugo is trying to envisage them in the light of his death, his final absence. This poem is a game of terror he is playing with himself, the sort of game Piroue described: "Ici, la nuit devient theatre et la lune projecteur, tandis que le poete se joue a lui-meme une comedie, toujours renouvelee, grotesque ou fantastique, comme un enfant s'enchante et se fait peur du spectacle qu'il se donne" (Piroue, 1985, 243). As Hugo said, when identifying with Hamlet: "Il semble que votre moi se soit absente et vous ait laisse la" (Hugo, 1985, 362). Through the eyes of the absent Hercules Hugo is looking at the ultimate division of the self, his absence from a world in which the ghosts from his work survive, and wander around waiting for the act of creation to resume. Their fate is in direct contrast to that of the poet who pours himself into their creation, and lives in the world as if he is a ghost, so that when he leaves it is as if he has never been. "Le Rouet d'Omphale" is an attempt to resolve the problem articulated in Poem XIV of Les Feuilles d'automne, where Hugo contemplates with disbelieving horror the afterlife of the works to survive him:
   Rien ne reste de nous; notre ceuvre est un probleme. L'homme,
   fantome errant, passe sans laisser meme Son ombre sur le mur.
   (Hugo, 1880, 314)


WORKS CITED

Albouy, Pierre. La Creation mythologique de Victor Hugo. Paris: Jose Corti, 1963.

Baudouin, Charles. Psychanalyse de Victor Hugo. Paris: Mont Blanc, n.d.

Catullus. Poems. Trans. E W. Cornish. London: Heinemann, 1962.

Charles-Wurtz, Ludmila. Poetique du sujet lyrique dans l'oeuvre de Victor Hugo. Paris: Honore Champion, 1998.

Gaudon, Jean. Le Temps de la contemplation. Paris: Flammarion, 1969.

Horace. Odes and Epodes. Ed. And trans. By Niall Rudd. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, Loeb Editions, 2004.

Hugo, Victor. oeuvres poetiques. Ed. Pierre Albouy. 3 vols. Paris: Gallimard (Bibliotheque de la Pleiade), 1964.

--. Les Orientales/ Les Feuilles d'automne. Paris: Hetzel, 1880.

--. Les Contemplations. Paris: Gallimard, Folio, 1973.

--. William Shakespeare" Critique. Paris: Laffont, Bouquins, 1985.

--. Voyages. Paris: Laffont, Bouquins, 1987.

James, Tony. Dream, Creativity and Madness in Nineteenth Century France. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995.

Maurois, Andre. Olympio ou la vie de Victor Hugo. Paris: Hachette, 1954.

Nash, Suzanne. Les Contemplations of Victor Hugo: An Allegory of the Creative Process. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1976.

Nerval, Gerard de. OEuvres. Ed. A. Beguin and J. Richer. 2. vols. Paris: Gallimard (Bibliotheque de la Pleiade), 1960 and 1961.

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Ed. G. P. Goold. Trans. Frank Justus Miller. 2. vols. London: Loeb, 1984.

Piroue, Georges. Victor Hugo romancier ou les dessus de l'inconnu. Paris: Denoel, 1985.

Robb, Graham. Victor Hugo. London: Picador, 1997.

Virgil. The Eclogues, Georgics and Aeneid of Virgil. Trans. C. Day-Lewis. London: Oxlord UP, 1966.

Dept of French

University College

Cork

IRELAND

NOTES

(1) As for example in the paintings of Francois Boucher (1731-4) or Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre (1862), both entitled "Hercules and Omphale."

(2) See Maurois, 1954, 252, "Le choix du nom etait un coup de genie. Olympien, Titan foudroye, mais qui se souvient de sa superbe origine; etre surhumain qui peut, plus que les hommes, plonger son regard dans les abimes; a la fois divin et victime des dieux."

(3) A fragment cited in Charles-Wurtz, 1998, 561.

(4) "Ce cauchemar, cette peur de l'inanime vivant," comme dit Berret, traverse l'oeuvre de Hugo. [ ... ] Ce cauchemar, c'est celui de la statue vivante. Albouy, 1963, 469.

(5) In Le Rhin Hugo observes that "Le plus horrible cauchemar qu'on puisse avoir a Frankfort, ce n'est ni l'invasion des russes, ni l'irruption des francais, ni la guerre europeenne traversant le pays, ni les vieilles guerres civiles dechirant de nouveau les quatorze quartiers de la ville, ni le typhus, ni le cholera; c'est le reveil, le dechainement et la vengeance des cariatides." Hugo, 1987, 225

(6) "Night and day lie open the gates of death's dark kingdom: But to retrace your steps, to find your way back to daylight--That is the task, the hard thing." Virgil, 1966, 287.

(7) For an immensely rich overview and discussion of ideas about split personalities in nineteenth century France see lames, 1995, 184-95.

(8) Supplicants at the shrine of Apollo in Miletus were advised to make sacrifices to Hercules. In Metamorphoses 9, 441-9, Ovid recounts the threat represented to Minos, father of Ariadne, by Miletus.

(9) It is reminiscent of the "distinctive binocluar vision" within Les Miserables that Graham Robb describes. Robb, 1997, 380.

(10) Hugo, 1987, 295.

(11) "I have finished a monument more lasting than bronze, more lofty than the regal structures of the pyramids, one which neither corroding rain nor the ungovernable North Wind can ever destroy, nor the countless series of years, nor the flight of time." Horace, 2004, 217. "And now my work is done which neither the wrath of love, nor tire, nor sword, nor the gnawing tooth of time shall ever be able to undo [...] Still in my better part I shall be borne immortal far beyond the lofty stars and I shall have an undying name." Ovid, 1984, 2. 427.

(12) Albouy, 1963, 87.
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