Et tu, Hugo

Victor Hugo and the Visionary Novel

by Victor Brombert
The poet who unsmilingly designed for himself a coat of arms that featured the motto “Ego Hugo” would seem to have earned Jean Cocteau’s epitaph: “Victor Hugo was a madman who thought he was Victor Hugo.” But as Professor Brombert demonstrates in his astute examination of Hugo’s novels, the mirror …

The Rebel


by Patrick McCarthy
During the last three or four years of his life, after the publication of The Fall, Albert Camus had a writer’s block which he was desperately trying to overcome when he died in an automobile crash in 1960 at age forty-six. Many events contributed to his inability to write. There …

Letters from Zola

Correspondance d'Émile Zola, Volume I: 1858-1867

edited under the direction of B.H. Bakker, edited by Colette Becker

Correspondance d'Émile Zola, Volume II: 1868-mai 1877

edited under the direction of B.H. Bakker, edited by Colette Becker
Thirty years ago, when Angus Wilson published an excellent short book on Émile Zola, Lionel Trilling, who shared his enthusiasm for the Rougon-Macquart novels, wrote a review in which he took issue with Wilson’s prediction of a Zola revival. Revivals, he observed, call into play an artist’s life as well …

Sartre’s Last Case

The Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert 1821-1857, Vol.I

by Jean-Paul Sartre, translated by Carol Cosman
The Family Idiot makes it sufficiently clear that writing three volumes and twenty-eight hundred pages about Gustave Flaubert was not for Sartre a labor of love. But there were many other occasions on which he explicitly voiced his antagonism to the great novelist. “That’s Flaubert for you—a heavy Norman gent …

The Heroic Hermaphrodite

Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite

introduced by Michel Foucault
As Michel Foucault notes in his preface to Herculine Barbin, the nineteenth century was haunted by the theme of the hermaphrodite. Among French romantic writers who sought to violate the doctrine of a rational aesthetic order by mixing up the classical genres, bisexuality became synonymous with Beauty, with Nature at …