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The Culture of WarLiterature of the Siege of Paris 1870-1871$
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Colin Foss

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621921

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621921.001.0001

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(p.51) Chapter 2 Hugomania
The Culture of War

Colin Foss

Liverpool University Press

This chapter shows how Victor Hugo gained the power to legitimize theaters’ new democratic mission during the Siege through his authorization—or refusal—of performances of his book of poetry Les Châtiments, first published in France during the Siege. In particular, I highlight the struggle between Hugo and the director of the Comédie-Française: Hugo claiming that he represented the people, against the Comédie-Française, which he claimed represented the inertia and political conservatism of cultural institutions. Literature was at war with itself. In this chapter, we find that Hugo himself had become an institution, and that his quarrel with theaters would be won in the eyes of the public by whoever or whichever of the two was more essentially French.

Keywords:   Hugo, Comédie-Française, Les Châtiments, Cultural patrimony, Siege, War

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