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Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs (first published under the French title L'Homme qui Rit in April 1869) is a sad and sordid tale -- not the sort of tale of the moment Hugo was known for. Is starts on the night of January 29, 1690, a ten-year-old boy abandoned -- the stern men who've kept him since infancy have wearied of him. The boy wanders, barefoot and starving, through Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs (first published under the French title L'Homme qui Rit in April 1869) is a sad and sordid tale -- not the sort of tale of the moment Hugo was known for. Is starts on the night of January 29, 1690, a ten-year-old boy abandoned -- the stern men who've kept him since infancy have wearied of him. The boy wanders, barefoot and starving, through a snowstorm to reach a gibbet bearing the corpse of a hanged criminal. Beneath the gibbet is a ragged woman, frozen to death. The boy is about to move onward when he hears a sound within the woman's garments: He discovers an infant girl, barely alive, clutching the woman's breast. A single drop of frozen milk, resembling a pearl, is on the woman's lifeless breast . . .


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Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs (first published under the French title L'Homme qui Rit in April 1869) is a sad and sordid tale -- not the sort of tale of the moment Hugo was known for. Is starts on the night of January 29, 1690, a ten-year-old boy abandoned -- the stern men who've kept him since infancy have wearied of him. The boy wanders, barefoot and starving, through Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs (first published under the French title L'Homme qui Rit in April 1869) is a sad and sordid tale -- not the sort of tale of the moment Hugo was known for. Is starts on the night of January 29, 1690, a ten-year-old boy abandoned -- the stern men who've kept him since infancy have wearied of him. The boy wanders, barefoot and starving, through a snowstorm to reach a gibbet bearing the corpse of a hanged criminal. Beneath the gibbet is a ragged woman, frozen to death. The boy is about to move onward when he hears a sound within the woman's garments: He discovers an infant girl, barely alive, clutching the woman's breast. A single drop of frozen milk, resembling a pearl, is on the woman's lifeless breast . . .

30 review for The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo, Fiction, Historical, Classics, Literary

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    L'Homme qui Rit = The Man Who Laughs = By Order of the King, Victor Hugo The Man Who Laughs (also published under the title By Order of the King) 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. It was recently adapted for the 2012 French film L'Homme Qui Rit, directed by Jean-Pierre Améris and starring Gérard Depardieu, Ma L'Homme qui Rit = The Man Who Laughs = By Order of the King, Victor Hugo The Man Who Laughs (also published under the title By Order of the King) 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. It was recently adapted for the 2012 French film L'Homme Qui Rit, directed by Jean-Pierre Améris and starring Gérard Depardieu, Marc-André Grondin and Christa Theret. In 2016, it was adapted as The Grinning Man, an English musical. In 2018, The Man Who Laughs is set to be adapted into a South Korean musical of the same name starring EXO's Suho, Park Hyo-shin and Park Kang Hyun. In late 17th-century England, a homeless boy named Gwynplaine rescues an infant girl during a snowstorm, her mother having frozen to death whilst feeding her. 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. Fifteen 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. The spoiled and jaded Duchess Josiana, the illegitimate daughter of King James II, is bored by the dull routine of court. Her fiancé, David Dirry-Moir, to whom she has been engaged since infancy, tells the Duchess that the only cure for her boredom is Gwynplaine. Josiana attends one of Gwynplaine's performances, and is aroused by the combination of his virile grace and his facial deformity. Gwynplaine is aroused by Josiana's physical beauty and haughty demeanor. Later, an agent of the royal court, Barkilphedro, who wishes to humiliate and destroy Josiana by compelling her to marry the 'clown' Gwynplaine, arrives at the caravan and compels Gwynplaine to follow him. Gwynplaine is ushered to a dungeon in London, where a physician named Hardquannone is being tortured to death. Hardquannone recognizes Gwynplaine, and identifies him as the boy whose abduction and disfigurement Hardquannone arranged twenty-three years earlier. A flashback relates the doctor's story. During the reign of the despotic King James II, in 1685–1688, one of the King's enemies was Lord Linnaeus Clancharlie, Marquis of Corleone, who had fled to Switzerland. Upon the baron's death, the King arranged the abduction of his two-year-old son and legitimate heir, Fermain. The King sold Fermain to a band of wanderers called "Comprachicos": criminals who mutilate and disfigure children, who are then forced to beg for alms or who are exhibited as carnival freaks. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه دسامبر سال 1983 میلادی عنوان: مردی که میخندد؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: جواد محیی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، کتابهای جیبی آسیا، 1346، در 2 جلد عنوان: مردی که میخندد؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: جواد محیی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، گوتنبرگ، چاپ دوم ؟؟؟؟، در 487 ص عنوان: مردی که میخندد؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: رضا فکور؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، سعیدی، 1349، در 280 ص عنوان: مردی که میخندد؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: داود وقار؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، ارغوان، 1362، در 480 ص عنوان: مردی که میخندد؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: امیر اسماعیلی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، شقایق، 1363، دو جلد در یک مجلد 256 ص عنوان: مردی که میخندد؛ نویسنده: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: کیومرث پارسای؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، دبیر، 1388، 103 ص این کتاب با ترجمه محمدعلی شیرازی نیز چاپ و نشر شده است روایت زندگی غم انگیز کودکی به نام: «جوئین پلین» است، که از بدو تولد، بی خانمان، و هیچگاه خانواده ی خود را، ندیده است، جوئین توسط «کومپراچیکو»ها (خریداران بچه)، خریداری شده؛ و در ده سالگی، از آنها جدا میشود. جوئین پلین در خلال داستان، جان یک دختر بچه ی یک ساله ی نابینا را نجات میدهد (البته آن دختر بچه مادرزاد نابینا نبوده است بلکه در یک سالگی نابینا میشود). سپس جوئین پلین همراه با آن دختر بچه، که اکنون او نیز بی خانمان است، نزد یک مرد تنها، به نام «اورسوس»، بزرگ میشوند؛ و به خاطر قیافه ی زشت، و مضحک جوئین پلین، که بسیار برای اجرای نمایش، خوب و مناسب است؛ و مردم را به خنده میاندازد، به اجرای نمایش در شهرها میپردازند. داستان نیز درمورد عشق جوئین پلین، و آن دخترک که «دئا» نام دارد، است. هشدار: (در ادامه ماجرا لو میرود اگر هنوز کتاب را نخوانده اید و پایان داستان نمیخواهید لو برود از خوانش ادامه خودداری کنید)؛ در اواخر داستان مشخص میشود، که: قیافه ی زشت جوئین پلین نیز، که گویی همیشه بر آن لبخندی نقش بسته است، به دلیل جراحی ای است، که کسانیکه با پدر وی دشمنی داشته اند، روی چهره ی او انجام داده اند، پدر «جوئین پلین» از اشراف بزرگ کشور بوده، و جوئین پلین نام اصلی خود را، که «لرد کلانچارلی» است، باز مییابد؛ و میفهمد که یک لرد است، و زمینها و کاخهای بسیاری از آن اوست، و این دست سرنوشت بوده، که تاکنون او را اینگونه همراه با سختی و بدبختی بار آورده است. ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    From my personal perspective, this book is an UNSUNG MASTERPIECE. Could it be a dark fable as well? I think so. Hugo must have heard the story during his exile. It clicked for him, Big Time. PERFECT! quoth he - for my disfigured hero will stand for all those who refuse to discontinue - despite the pressuring of authority - their eternal, unabashed public display of a POSITIVE, MORAL ATTITUDE. Just like Victor Hugo himself. So, he had a bit of black-humoured fun. In Paris, as in any modern country, d From my personal perspective, this book is an UNSUNG MASTERPIECE. Could it be a dark fable as well? I think so. Hugo must have heard the story during his exile. It clicked for him, Big Time. PERFECT! quoth he - for my disfigured hero will stand for all those who refuse to discontinue - despite the pressuring of authority - their eternal, unabashed public display of a POSITIVE, MORAL ATTITUDE. Just like Victor Hugo himself. So, he had a bit of black-humoured fun. In Paris, as in any modern country, dark deceit and hypocrisy ruled the roost. Time to SHAKE THEM UP A BIT, ya think? So he did. And of course, like the poor hero of Les Misérables, Hugo was none too popular with la crème de la crème. But guess what? His readers (and now his film and musical viewers!) ADORED AND WILL ALWAYS ADORE him. It doesn’t hurt his storyline here that he added a bit of a beaut in the way of an innocent story of two simple hearts - WAY beyond the corruption of the ‘normal’ human heart! And Hugo knew true love’s ways RARELY survive the awful and onerous degradation of the jeering world. There but for the Grace of God might have gone I... He was an ethically-sound sort of PRACTICAL man, and hence he was a pessimist. It’s sad to lack Faith. So yes - it IS a sad story. Though you can hear the resounding echoes of unworldly Voltairean cackles throughout. But it remains a novel with a Heart... A broken, weeping heart.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gkavea

    “There is no hypocrisy so great as the words which we say to ourselves, "I wish to know the worst!" At heart we do not wish it at all. We have a dreadful fear of knowing it. Agony is mingled with a dim effort not to see the end. We do not own it to ourselves, but we would draw back if we dared; and when we have advanced, we reproach ourselves for having done so.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carla Bull

    I write this having just finished the last page, closed, completed, and I am breathless. Victor Hugo is not an easy read, there are moments in which he loses himself to very specific detail and matter-of-fact descriptions. But what you find interwoven through the dry passages is of such exquisite beauty, that it is often worth pressing onward. I do not currently make that exception for any other author but Hugo, because the good is just so good. As it is here, with L'homme qui rit. Gorgeous, gor I write this having just finished the last page, closed, completed, and I am breathless. Victor Hugo is not an easy read, there are moments in which he loses himself to very specific detail and matter-of-fact descriptions. But what you find interwoven through the dry passages is of such exquisite beauty, that it is often worth pressing onward. I do not currently make that exception for any other author but Hugo, because the good is just so good. As it is here, with L'homme qui rit. Gorgeous, gorgeous characters, Ursus and Homo being particular favourites of mine. This is Hugo at his Romantic best, with Gwynplaine the archetypal Romantic hero. What I did not, but should of expected, was that ending! But of course, I cannot go into much detail regarding that here. If you are a fan of Hugo, I recommend it, if you are not... I advise be patient, struggle a bit now and then, the payoff is worth it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    What an emotional roller coaster of a read! I have read criticisms of this book that said that it was a good story that was poorly executed. I totally disagree. I think it was brilliant. You have to know going in with Hugo that the story isn't going to be straightforward and that there are going to be lots and lots of tangents that at the time might seem irrelevant but always end up tying into the main story. This book has the most heart breaking beginning and ending that I have read in a while. What an emotional roller coaster of a read! I have read criticisms of this book that said that it was a good story that was poorly executed. I totally disagree. I think it was brilliant. You have to know going in with Hugo that the story isn't going to be straightforward and that there are going to be lots and lots of tangents that at the time might seem irrelevant but always end up tying into the main story. This book has the most heart breaking beginning and ending that I have read in a while. If you are a Hugo fan read this book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Oh my, do I love this book… I don’t even know where to begin with reviewing it, because there’s so much stuff in there. Perhaps with a word of warning: this is not an easy book to read. It’s huge, the descriptions can feel long, useless and drawn out at time, but just like other writers who produced door-stoppers of amazing literature (I’m thinking Dickens, Tolstoy and al.), Hugo created novels that are infinitely rewarding. And I promise you, everything ties together in the end. This is the stor Oh my, do I love this book… I don’t even know where to begin with reviewing it, because there’s so much stuff in there. Perhaps with a word of warning: this is not an easy book to read. It’s huge, the descriptions can feel long, useless and drawn out at time, but just like other writers who produced door-stoppers of amazing literature (I’m thinking Dickens, Tolstoy and al.), Hugo created novels that are infinitely rewarding. And I promise you, everything ties together in the end. This is the story of Gwynplaine, a horribly disfigured orphan: is mouth has been cut on each side, giving him a permanent, chilling smile. He finds, on a cold winter night, a blind infant girl, still curled up in the arms of the mother who died of cold and starvation somewhere in southern England. He rescues her, and gets rescued in his turn by Ursus, a wandering carnie of sorts, who lives alone in his caravan with his pet wolf, Homo. He adopts both children and they form a modest but happy family for fifteen years, performing in carnivals all over the country. Dea, the baby now grown up into a lovely young girl, has fallen in love with Gwynplaine: when she touches his face, he seems perpetually happy and smiling to her because of his scars. A bored and spoiled duchess by the name of Josiane is told by her fiancé that seeing the show Gwynplaine and Ursus put on his the only cure to her ennui. She is perversely aroused by Gwynplaine’s grotesque appearance, so she has him summoned to court. This will lead Gwynplaine to discover his real identity and change his life… This is a rather obscure novel in the Hugo canon, and I’ll never understand that. Maybe because it is very political. A long section is devoted to Gwynplaine acting as a mouthpiece for Hugo’s anti-monarchy manifesto, which is brilliantly written. He uses his deformed protagonist to make a vitriolic critique of social identities bases on wealth and class. But Hugo also packs much more than politics in “The Man Who Laughs”: he talks about love between family members and lovers, the real worth of wealth and the fleetingness of lust with some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. “La beauté de la chair, c’est de n’être point marbre; c’est de palpiter, c’est de trembler, c’est de rougir, c’est de saigner; c’est d’avoir la fermeté sans avoir la dureté; c’est d’être blanche sans être froide; c’est d’avoir ses tressaillement et ses infirmités; c’est d’être la vie, et le marbre est la mort." "The beauty of flesh is to not be marble; it’s to shiver, it’s to tremble, it’s to blush, it’s to bleed; it’s to have firmness but to not be hard; it’s to be white without being cold; it’s to have its thrills and infirmities; it’s to be life where marble is death.” Ouf. If you have never read Hugo before, this is a good place to start, to get a taste of his incredible talent, without committing to the sacred monster that is “Les Misérables” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) or “Notre-Dame de Paris”. A grand, masterful work. (The most recent movie adaptation - with Gérard Depardieu as Ursus and Montreal's own Marc-André Grondin as Gwynplaine, is visually stunning and shattering. If you get a chance to watch it, please do, you won't regret it.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor Mary

    As is often the case with Victor Hugo's works, he often tends to discourage the reader towards the beginning of the novel with a long, drawn out description of seemingly mundane details, people, or circumstances. Then, just as one begins to yawn...there emerges a plot line that joins all these details into one and set the story in motion, captivating the reader infinitely. This is one of the few books I've read where this urge to throw oneself into the story stays throughout the whole novel. The As is often the case with Victor Hugo's works, he often tends to discourage the reader towards the beginning of the novel with a long, drawn out description of seemingly mundane details, people, or circumstances. Then, just as one begins to yawn...there emerges a plot line that joins all these details into one and set the story in motion, captivating the reader infinitely. This is one of the few books I've read where this urge to throw oneself into the story stays throughout the whole novel. The Man Who Laughs also stands as, although one of Hugo's lesser known works, one of his most depressing, and dare I say, even more so than Les Miserables. Not to mention that the whole book is so deliciously and richly written that I could continue assigning food metaphors to it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim Dooley

    This is an astonishing book, and quite emotionally draining. I doubt if there is another writer who creates such an understanding of the human condition as does Victor Hugo...and, yes, that includes Charles Dickens who is one of my favorite authors. Seldom have I read a story that was so entirely immersive. The writer took me deeply into the culture of the time, the settings, the politics, and gave me a sense of the day-to-day life. Consequently, I KNEW these characters to the point that I could This is an astonishing book, and quite emotionally draining. I doubt if there is another writer who creates such an understanding of the human condition as does Victor Hugo...and, yes, that includes Charles Dickens who is one of my favorite authors. Seldom have I read a story that was so entirely immersive. The writer took me deeply into the culture of the time, the settings, the politics, and gave me a sense of the day-to-day life. Consequently, I KNEW these characters to the point that I could probably have predicted their actions had the story moved along a different path. Modern readers are likely to be troubled by the (at times) overwhelming detail. If your wonderful writing ideal is the work of James Patterson, Hugo's detail will drive you crazy. His characters don't simply walk across town. They interact with their environment to the point that I felt that I was there on many occasions. Yes, there were times that I wished that so much extensive detail had not been provided. Yet, I was ALWAYS rewarded for my patience. Seemingly throw-away acts came back at a crucial point of the story later, and I did not need to stop and ponder, "Oh, who is that character again?" As I mentioned earlier, this one plunged into the depths of my emotions. There were times that I literally laughed aloud, was horrified, and cried. That doesn't happen too often for me when reading the written word. Oh, I'm involved to the point of desperately wanting to know what will happen next, but seldom to the point of an injury to a character being an injury to me. This is the third Victor Hugo novel that I've read...all were exceptional. And while I wouldn't consider this to be his masterwork, I give it a high recommendation without hesitation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Phoenix2

    Could not force myself to give this book more than 2 stars cause the goodreads rating systems tells me two stars equals with it's okay rating and three with I liked it, which I didn't. I should also state here that I could not finish it. I gave up on it on page 500, but I couldn't take it any more. So, why did I picked it up? 1. Hugo is one of my fav authors and he had me bewitched by the notre dame novel. However, this one was packed with historical facts (?) and details. I mean, imagin, the sto Could not force myself to give this book more than 2 stars cause the goodreads rating systems tells me two stars equals with it's okay rating and three with I liked it, which I didn't. I should also state here that I could not finish it. I gave up on it on page 500, but I couldn't take it any more. So, why did I picked it up? 1. Hugo is one of my fav authors and he had me bewitched by the notre dame novel. However, this one was packed with historical facts (?) and details. I mean, imagin, the story actually started on page 100 and it was only one chapter before the historical things started again. 2. The story seemed compelling and the fun fact that Batman's Jocker was inspired by the main character was interesting. 3. This picture Damn, he looked good in that one. However, like I said, the book was filled with details, character's long long long background stories and many historical events that I am not sure that they've happened. The actual story was spread throught that boring more than 600 page long text and I had actually considared the option of giving up on it for more than five times, but I did hang on cause most of the reviews on Goodreads were 5 star ratings. So, I've thought that maybe it was me and the book is a masterpiece that I can't appreciate. But, honestly, it was too tiring to read. So, friendly advice to anyone who will pick it up next, if the book doesn't appeal to you from the first ten chapters, give up on it, because it will never get better.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    Superb. I took my time with this one, it's so chock-full of stunning scenes (Book Second, chapter 17 - exquisite), symbols, and absolute jewels for sentences - I really cannot say enough about how beautiful the writing is. Hugo has the tendency to rant - he goes on and on about things that seem peripheral - listing the pedigrees and holdings of lords, for one, or including Usus' speeches (which are rambling and at times incomprehensible - at least to less than brilliant me) - but. I. liked. this Superb. I took my time with this one, it's so chock-full of stunning scenes (Book Second, chapter 17 - exquisite), symbols, and absolute jewels for sentences - I really cannot say enough about how beautiful the writing is. Hugo has the tendency to rant - he goes on and on about things that seem peripheral - listing the pedigrees and holdings of lords, for one, or including Usus' speeches (which are rambling and at times incomprehensible - at least to less than brilliant me) - but. I. liked. this. too. It makes the wonderful bits (which is 95%) that much more acute. I've avoided reading "Les Miserables" or "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" until now because the stories are so well-known (and long, and I've seen the movies), but "The Man Who Laughs" has convinced me that they will be well worth it. I tell you, the part where ten-year-old Gwynplain is abandoned in the snow? I knew then that Hugo was out to torture me. Some of his work: ""Charybdis is poverty, but Scylla is wealth." "I am so saturated with respect that I need scorn." "The human race is a mouth and I am its cry." Some think this is his best novel - I wouldn't doubt it. I highly recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    A lesser known of Hugo’s work. This complex and wearying novel took me weeks to finish, and I really, really wanted to stop reading it. He’d get a character in a real solid fix and then spread pages and pages and pages rambling on about tides and moons and philosophy and religion and evolution and meaninglessness and...oh, yeah, the character. While he did have a point with most of the excess baggage he dumped into this novel, where at the end he drew together that wider picture for the reader’s A lesser known of Hugo’s work. This complex and wearying novel took me weeks to finish, and I really, really wanted to stop reading it. He’d get a character in a real solid fix and then spread pages and pages and pages rambling on about tides and moons and philosophy and religion and evolution and meaninglessness and...oh, yeah, the character. While he did have a point with most of the excess baggage he dumped into this novel, where at the end he drew together that wider picture for the reader’s benefit, 1/3 of it could have been said so much quicker. The book is often shockingly graphic and cruel, which also is intentional on Hugo’s part, but which often turned my stomach...the atrocities of the story aren’t meant to be enjoyed. If you enjoy certain passages of this book, especially a torture scene, there’s something wrong. There are also some very sensual/sexual scenes. But what really dropped my rating is how utterly meaningless it all seems to be. There is so much left to chance and then tossed over one’s shoulder. Just when things start looking up for the MC, circumstances lead up to the ending events and everything just piled on him...but at that point I was so tired I didn’t even care. Hugo hates the British ruling class and that comes out loud and clear here. But not all of them are bad and becoming one is not a doom. Someone needed to set a good example, or to run away to a better land and be content as a poor man. There is no content, no faith, no abiding love except a doomed one, no fatherhood in the man who has congratulated himself that he is a perfect father by choice. What’s left is painfully bleak. This book in a sentence: life without the hope and comfort of salvation is no life at all.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marquise

    Three things I have say as I collect my wits from the skip that last chapter threw them in: 1. Nineteenth-century French authors sure loved their melodrama to bits, and knew how to weave a good melodramatic yarn. If melodrama has a good meaning, it's probably a French invention. 2. Monsieur Hugo is a sadistic writer. 2. Pass me some tissues, there's too many onions here.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lenny

    Not an easy read, but very rewarding...especially in politically charged times. I have no doubt Hugo would be accused of socialism if he spoke up in modern times. But really he is anti-nobility and royalty, and uses his characters to speak up for the common man, as well as subtle digs at the rich and sheltered lords of 18th century England. It's the story of man who goes from one extreme to the other, and not by his choosing. He's an amazingly complex character, as are many of the supporting char Not an easy read, but very rewarding...especially in politically charged times. I have no doubt Hugo would be accused of socialism if he spoke up in modern times. But really he is anti-nobility and royalty, and uses his characters to speak up for the common man, as well as subtle digs at the rich and sheltered lords of 18th century England. It's the story of man who goes from one extreme to the other, and not by his choosing. He's an amazingly complex character, as are many of the supporting characters. And quite unusual as well..."Ursus" the old man and his pet wolf whom he named "Homo". Homo is a most excellent and well done character. As he tells this melodrama, Hugo spends chapter upon chapter informing the reader of those times...what it was like to live in suburban London, what it was like to scrape a living as an entertainer, what it was like to roam a mansion or attend a gathering of the House of Lords...and his straight-faced commentary on excess will make you smile more than once. And if you're a history buff, you'll gain some fascinating insights as well. Thanks to Trish for the recommendation!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kyriakos Sorokkou

    Δείτε την κριτική στα Ελληνικά στις βιβλιοαλχημείες I have absolutely no interest in the superhero movies by Marvel and all this flood of trilogies, tetralogies, heptalogies, and so on. But I have an interest, an exclusive interest let's say in DC's Batman and his main adversary The Joker. I enjoyed the realistic Joker by Joaquin Phoenix. I adored Heath Ledger's Joker, Mark Hamill's Joker laugh always haunts me, and of course I always enjoy Jack Nicholson's Joker. Of course it all began in April 194 Δείτε την κριτική στα Ελληνικά στις βιβλιοαλχημείες I have absolutely no interest in the superhero movies by Marvel and all this flood of trilogies, tetralogies, heptalogies, and so on. But I have an interest, an exclusive interest let's say in DC's Batman and his main adversary The Joker. I enjoyed the realistic Joker by Joaquin Phoenix. I adored Heath Ledger's Joker, Mark Hamill's Joker laugh always haunts me, and of course I always enjoy Jack Nicholson's Joker. Of course it all began in April 1940 when two of Joker's three creators said that they were inspired for the Joker character by Conrad Veidt's role as the Man who Laughs in the film of the same name (1928). The movie in turn is based on Victor Hugo's book of the same name written in 1869. The Man Who Laughs. The story takes place in Britain, mainly during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) A small child is left abandoned on the shores of England by a group of nasty child traffickers. They disfigured the boy's face for reasons we will learn in the middle part of the book. Reasons I won't spoil here. Gwynplaine the young boy and Joker's ancestor finds a blind infant (Dea) on the breast of her dead mother. Taking her with him they find shelter to a carny's caravan (Ursus). In contrast with Joker, Gwynplaine is the absolute good, and for this reason everyone from every layer of society exploit and take advantage of him. Of course the book moves pretty slowly. Hugo extensively informs us about the history of the times, the setting, the context, mini biographies for every single character in this book and we only reach our protagonist when we are past 100 pages. The revelation will come in the middle of the book and a redemption will come at the end. Not a bittersweet one like Dickens does, but more like a bitter sadness rather than a sweet relief. Even though it was a slow-paced book I wasn't bored by it, and by finishing it I was sure Victor Hugo is indeed a great writer. This was my first Hugo and unlike his two masterpieces: Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris it is hard to find. I'm glad I read it first. I like the fact that I read a lesser known book by him. A book I recommend to every French literature lover, Victor Hugo fan, and of course anyone who enjoys Joker to the marrow.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Corley Elizabeth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. On a cold January night in 1690, a ten-year-old boy is abandoned near the coast of Portland in England, left for dead by the group whom he has been residing with; Comprachicos, sellers and buyers of intentionally deformed children. The young child begins to wander the night, battered by a snowstorm and hindered by naked feet, close to death more often than he is aware of. Eventually, his wandering leads him to the body of a woman, frozen to death by the snow, a small infant on her breast crying On a cold January night in 1690, a ten-year-old boy is abandoned near the coast of Portland in England, left for dead by the group whom he has been residing with; Comprachicos, sellers and buyers of intentionally deformed children. The young child begins to wander the night, battered by a snowstorm and hindered by naked feet, close to death more often than he is aware of. Eventually, his wandering leads him to the body of a woman, frozen to death by the snow, a small infant on her breast crying out into the dark winter, the fragile wail calling the boy to the baby. Not even deliberating, he takes the baby girl in his arms and carries her with him, shedding his own warm jacket to keep the biting chill off her skin; thus he continues, the infant wrapped in his arms and him searching for any sign of civilization. Upon entering a town and finding no one will open their door, he comes upon the tiny caravan of the mountebank Ursus and his pet wolf, Homo, where the children are with grudging tenderness taken in by the old man, given food and clothing and a place to sleep. It is upon the following morning that Ursus makes two startling discoveries: the boy, called Gwynplaine, has a face mutilated into a Glasgow grin, to the effect that he is always outwardly laughing, and the baby, christened Dea, is blind due to vengeful night of her mother's death and her salvation by Gwynplaine. Fifteen years later, both the boy and girl are still living with Ursus and Homo, having been adopted by the man, and now make a living from performing plays and the effect of Gwynplaine's mask of a face, which earns him the title "The Laughing Man". However, both Gwynplaine and Dea are filled with happiness, due to the fact that they have both fallen deeply and forever in love with the other, Dea being able to see the real beauty of Gwynplaine and him so devoted to the light that is her. "The Laughing Man" soon spreads all over the streets of London, attracting both good and bad attention, and ultimately bringing upon the happy family the shocking assumed arrest of Gwynpliane. But what is his crime? Does he even have one? This book has so many emotions coursing through it, especially within Gwynplaine, in whom we see adoration and devotion, kindness, innocence, want and lust, the yearning for greater things, extreme pain and sorrow, temptation, and ultimately, the undying love for Dea that brings him back into the world he knows and wouldn't trade for any title. It's a book focusing on the good and bad qualities of man, all shown within Gwynplaine, that prove us human; kindness and cruelty, love and hate, light and dark. Ultimately, I cried. A pretty good bit, actually. The main reason I wanted to read this book was because of the relationship between Gwynplaine and Dea; their love and life together, and eventually, both of their deaths. I adore his devotion to her and her adoration of him, and their innocence is just so sweet and pure that it's extremely beautiful, she who's blind yet able to see beyond the deformed face of the man she loves, seeing his soul and true beauty. I had read somewhere that the end was heartbreaking, and I had a feeling that Dea would die (just from interpretation and from a certain name of one of the last chapters), but that didn't soften the blow of her death any less, and I couldn't believe the way she died: so shocked with happiness from seeing Gwynplaine alive, and still ailed with the effects of already being on the brink of dying from missing him, that her heart finally fails and she dies. No! Gosh, I mean, they had finally just been reunited and it was so sweet! And Gwynplaine's reactions are so vivid and touching in these scenes; his tears and pleas for her to stay alive, and then his own suicide by walking off into the water and letting himself drown. It's strangely romantic; the classic love story, I guess you could say. Once I got into this, I began wondering if The Man Who Laughs would have sort of a Romeo and Juliet ending, and let me tell you, this is so much better than Shakespeare's work. On another subject, Ursus: the relationship between this man and the two children he saves is a strange thing at first; it begins with a harsh affection, then turns into a gruff love, and he comes to see both of them as his children. I wonder how, or if, he was able to cope with both of them dying. Another point of the story I was drawn to was the treatment Gwynplaine receives by everyone else, the people who laugh upon seeing his face and the nobles who scorn him, even though he is revealed to be one of their peers, showing just how cruel mankind can be to anything different. Overall, my favorite thing about this story was the love between Gwynplaine and Dea, the monster and angel, and also the love their father has for them. It's definitely one I'll read again, a story that's filled with vivid imagery and powerful words, emotions, and characters.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    An odd yet oddly compelling historical romance set in 17th century England

  18. 4 out of 5

    🐢Eliza {Bat Tziyon}🌸

    Alright guys, I have to be very fair here. I have LOVED the main idea of the book, but as I got into it, I was quickly disappointed. This is written in a way that seems way too tedious to me, so at this time, I don't think I can really commit to finishing it. Have to rate it a 1 (meaning I couldn't finish it). Maybe I'll get back into it in the future. Alright guys, I have to be very fair here. I have LOVED the main idea of the book, but as I got into it, I was quickly disappointed. This is written in a way that seems way too tedious to me, so at this time, I don't think I can really commit to finishing it. Have to rate it a 1 (meaning I couldn't finish it). Maybe I'll get back into it in the future.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From IMDb: When a proud noble refuses to kiss the hand of the despotic King James in 1690, he is cruelly executed and his son surgically disfigured. Another matinée with dear Bettie watching a masterpiece by Victor Hugo.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    The Man Who Laughs is a novel by Victor Hugo, originally published in April 1869, it was in French then I don't know when they decided to publish an English version. I've read a lot about this book since I've read it and it seems I'm supposed to like the book. I think that maybe I'm even supposed to love it. I don't. Perhaps I would have if I could have cut parts out of the book and thrown them away, which I guess I could have, but I wouldn't have known which parts to cut out until I went to the The Man Who Laughs is a novel by Victor Hugo, originally published in April 1869, it was in French then I don't know when they decided to publish an English version. I've read a lot about this book since I've read it and it seems I'm supposed to like the book. I think that maybe I'm even supposed to love it. I don't. Perhaps I would have if I could have cut parts out of the book and thrown them away, which I guess I could have, but I wouldn't have known which parts to cut out until I went to the trouble, a lot of trouble, to read the thing in the first place. And now that I've read it I don't plan on reading it again so I won't have to cut anything out of it. Oh, I just found something interesting! It seems Hugo wrote The Man Who Laughs, or the Laughing Man, over a period of fifteen 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. Hugo's working title for this book was On the King's Command, but a friend suggested The Man Who Moans Loudly. The book sure could have a lot of names, I kind of like The Man Who Moans Loudly, but no one asked me. When I was reading what the book was about long before I began reading I read this: In late 17th-century England, a homeless boy named Gwynplaine rescues an infant girl during a snowstorm, her mother having frozen to death whilst feeding her. That's just the first line of the summery, and that is true, but there was a whole bunch of stuff that went on before that, most of which I wish I would never have read. We have to get through the First Chapter before the First Chapter, that's what it's called by me, they call it: Preliminary Chapter.—Ursus. Here we go: Ursus and Homo were fast friends. Ursus was a man, Homo a wolf. Their dispositions tallied. It was the man who had christened the wolf: probably he had also chosen his own name. Having found Ursus fit for himself, he had found Homo fit for the beast. Man and wolf turned their partnership to account at fairs, at village fêtes, at the corners of streets where passers-by throng, and out of the need which people seem to feel everywhere to listen to idle gossip and to buy quack medicine. The wolf, gentle and courteously subordinate, diverted the crowd. It is a pleasant thing to behold the tameness of animals. Our greatest delight is to see all the varieties of domestication parade before us. This it is which collects so many folks on the road of royal processions. Ursus and Homo from one place to another, one market to another, one city to another, I could name them all but I won't, the book did, but I won't. They lived in a van, a small van which Homo pulled by day and guard by night. Poor Homo. They camp together at all those places I won't mention again but the book does. Here's what they did: When the cart drew up on a fair green, when the gossips ran up open-mouthed and the curious made a circle round the pair, Ursus harangued and Homo approved. Homo, with a bowl in his mouth, politely made a collection among the audience. They gained their livelihood. The wolf was lettered, likewise the man. The wolf had been trained by the man, or had trained himself unassisted, to divers wolfish arts, which swelled the receipts. "Above all things, do not degenerate into a man," his friend would say to him. Never did the wolf bite: the man did now and then. At least, to bite was the intent of Ursus. He was a misanthrope, and to italicize his misanthropy he had made himself a juggler. To live, also; for the stomach has to be consulted. Moreover, this juggler-misanthrope, whether to add to the complexity of his being or to perfect it, was a doctor. To be a doctor is little: Ursus was a ventriloquist. You heard him speak without his moving his lips. He counterfeited, so as to deceive you, any one's accent or pronunciation. He imitated voices so exactly that you believed you heard the people themselves. All alone he simulated the murmur of a crowd, and this gave him a right to the title of Engastrimythos, which he took. He reproduced all sorts of cries of birds, as of the thrush, the wren, the pipit lark, otherwise called the gray cheeper, and the ring ousel, all travellers like himself: so that at times when the fancy struck him, he made you aware either of a public thoroughfare filled with the uproar of men, or of a meadow loud with the voices of beasts—at one time stormy as a multitude, at another fresh and serene as the dawn. Such gifts, although rare, exist. In the last century a man called Touzel, who imitated the mingled utterances of men and animals, and who counterfeited all the cries of beasts, was attached to the person of Buffon—to serve as a menagerie....... It was said of him that he had once been for a short time in Bedlam; they had done him the honour to take him for a madman, but had set him free on discovering that he was only a poet. This story was probably not true; we have all to submit to some such legend about us. Ursus was sagacious, contradictory, an odd. Ursus was a doctor, he wrought cures by some means or other. He made the most of a heap of neglected plants for cures for anything, he was a man of taste and an old Latin poet. He played a flute and a violoncello, and wore a bearskin on the days of his grand performance. It goes on and on, whatever you can think of, almost, Ursus is or was. Homo was no ordinary wolf either. He ate medlars and potatoes making him a prairie wolf, he was a dark color, that made him a lycaon, his howl sounded like a dog of Chili. Ursus had taught Homo his talents for standing upright, restraining his rage into sulkiness, growling instead of howling, and Homo taught him to do without a roof, without bread and fire, and to prefer hunger in the woods to slavery in a palace. Finally I know everything there is to know about Ursus and Homo we move on to one of my least favorite parts of the book and we're not even at the book yet, we have THE ONLY THINGS NECESSARY TO KNOW. For some reason this is written inside of their van, I am not giving this word for word at all, I couldn't take it again, but it seems: The Baron, peer of England, wears a cap with six pearls, the coronet begins with the rank of Viscount, he wears a coronet of pearls without number. The Earl wears a coronet with pearls upon points with strawberry leaves too, the Marquis has his pearls and leaves together, while the Royal Duke gets a circlet of crosses, no pearls I suppose, the Prince of Wales gets a crown unclosed, I guess the King's must be closed. We can't forge though that the Duke is a high and puissant prince, whatever that is, the Marquis and Earl are noble and puissant lord, the Viscount noble and puissant lord and the Baron is only a trusty lord. Poor guy. The Duke is his Grace and the rest of them are either most honourable or right honourable, I forget which. OK, I'm stepping it up here, the House of Lords is a chamber and a court the Commons present themselves bareheaded, the send up their bills by forty members and present them with three low bows. Peers go to parliament in coaches in file, the Commons do not, I guess they walk I don't know. Some peers go to Westminster in open chariots, unless it rains I suppose. Barons and bishops have the same rank, I wonder how many pearls they have. The king has to make you a full baron, then you get knights fees whatever they are. A lord never takes an oath, a peer who kills a man is not prosecuted, which is odd. OK, I'm tired of this, I'm moving on. But I almost didn't by this time. Because that gets me to SATISFACTION WHICH MUST SUFFICE THOSE WHO HAVE NOTHING. This is written on the other side of what must be a gigantic van: Henry Auverquerque Earl of Grantham sits in the House of Lords between the Earl of Jersey and the Earl of Greenwich and has a hundred thousand a year, he gets all sorts of places built all of marble with secret passages. Richard Lowther, Viscount Lionsdale, owns Lowther in Westermorland, it has a magnificent approach, Richard Earl of Scarborough, is a Viscount and a Baron and a Lord Lieutenant and a lot of other things. Robert Darcy is an Earl of Holderness, Charles Beauclerc is a Duke, Charles Bodville Robertes is a Baron and a Viscount and an Earl, I don't know or care how he managed that, did you know that the most noble Algernon Capel, Viscount Msiden, Earl of Essex, has Cashionbury in Hertfordshire, a seat which has the shape of a capital H, which rejoices sportsmen with its abundance of game? I didn't know that either. Somebody somewhere has trees that bark of which cures snakebite, or something like that. And now we can move on to the second chapter before the First Chapter called by other people: Another Preliminary Chapter.—The Comprachicos. Here's how it starts: Who now knows the word Comprachicos, and who knows its meaning? The Comprachicos, or Comprapequeños, were a hideous and nondescript association of wanderers, famous in the 17th century, forgotten in the 18th, unheard of in the 19th. The Comprachicos are like the "succession powder," an ancient social characteristic detail. They are part of old human ugliness. To the great eye of history, which sees everything collectively, the Comprachicos belong to the colossal fact of slavery. Joseph sold by his brethren is a chapter in their story. The Comprachicos have left their traces in the penal laws of Spain and England. You find here and there in the dark confusion of English laws the impress of this horrible truth, like the foot-print of a savage in a forest. Comprachicos, the same as Comprapequeños, is a compound Spanish word signifying Child-buyers. The Comprachicos traded in children. They bought and sold them. They did not steal them. The kidnapping of children is another branch of industry. And what did they make of these children? Monsters. Why monsters? To laugh at. The populace must needs laugh, and kings too. The mountebank is wanted in the streets, the jester at the Louvre. The one is called a Clown, the other a Fool. The efforts of man to procure himself pleasure are at times worthy of the attention of the philosopher. What are we sketching in these few preliminary pages? A chapter in the most terrible of books; a book which might be entitled—The farming of the unhappy by the happy. It seems that people sell their kids, or someone else's kids to these people and these people change them. According to the book, people wanted play things, and they had to be made from children, this goes on for a long time, so I'm just telling you a little. We're told that a child meant for a plaything had to be taken early. The dwarf must be fashioned when young. A well-formed child is not amusing, here grew an art. The trainers took a face and made a muzzle, they stunted growth, they changed the features, they made hunchbacks. We're told where God made harmony, they made discord, where God made the perfect picture, they re-established the sketch. This went on for a long time, and I'd prefer not to think anymore about it, so I'll just say none of it was fun to read, and cutting a little boy's face into a wide, permanent smile is how we get the laughing man. And finally get to the first chapter of the book. And that's what the book is about, the boy with the smile is left all alone on the shore of a river, while his horrible care-takers leave on a boat without him. This smiling boy begins walking he knows not where and walking through the snow finds a baby laying in the snow under her now dead mother. No time was lost; there was one continued passing to and fro from the shore to the vessel, and from the vessel to the shore; each one took his share of the work—one carried a bag, another a chest. Those amidst the promiscuous company who were possibly or probably women worked like the rest. They overloaded the child. It was doubtful if the child's father or mother were in the group; no sign of life was vouchsafed him. They made him work, nothing more. He appeared not a child in a family, but a slave in a tribe. He waited on every one, and no one spoke to him. However, he made haste, and, like the others of this mysterious troop, he seemed to have but one thought—to embark as quickly as possible. Did he know why? probably not: he hurried mechanically because he saw the others hurry. The hooker was decked. The stowing of the lading in the hold was quickly finished, and the moment to put off arrived. The last case had been carried over the gangway, and nothing was left to embark but the men. The two objects among the group who seemed women were already on board; six, the child among them, were still on the low platform of the cliff. A movement of departure was made in the vessel: the captain seized the helm, a sailor took up an axe to cut the hawser—to cut is an evidence of haste; when there is time it is unknotted. "Andamos," said, in a low voice, he who appeared chief of the six, and who had the spangles on his tatters. The child rushed towards the plank in order to be the first to pass. As he placed his foot on it, two of the men hurried by, at the risk of throwing him into the water, got in before him, and passed on; the fourth drove him back with his fist and followed the third; the fifth, who was the chief, bounded into rather than entered the vessel, and, as he jumped in, kicked back the plank, which fell into the sea, a stroke of the hatchet cut the moorings, the helm was put up, the vessel left the shore, and the child remained on land....... That first chapter, the real one, was interesting, very interesting. The next is what happens to these people who hurried into the boat and went away without the boy, this section I couldn't put the book down. The next is when he finds the baby: Beneath the snow which he removed a form grew under his hands; and suddenly in the hollow he had made there appeared a pale face. The cry had not proceeded from that face. Its eyes were shut, and the mouth open but full of snow. It remained motionless; it stirred not under the hands of the child. The child, whose fingers were numbed with frost, shuddered when he touched its coldness. It was that of a woman. Her dishevelled hair was mingled with the snow. The woman was dead. Again the child set himself to sweep away the snow. The neck of the dead woman appeared; then her shoulders, clothed in rags. Suddenly he felt something move feebly under his touch. It was something small that was buried, and which stirred. The child swiftly cleared away the snow, discovering a wretched little body—thin, wan with cold, still alive, lying naked on the dead woman's naked breast. It was a little girl. And then the boy saves the girl, and the guy with the wolf saves them both, then the boy winds up having a smiling face, and he grows up, and she grows up, and lots of stuff happens to them. Everyone laughs at this guy, which I find awful, they have to be able to tell the guy isn't laughing on his own, and any picture I've ever seen that's supposed to be him I also think is just mean. The poor guy. We eventually find out who he really is and why he was cut up, and I never knew until then that it mattered to me at all. There is Lord David Dirry-Moir, he's supposed to marry the sister of Queen Anne, Lady Josiana. They go year after year knowing they are going to get married, but never seem to get around to it, that becomes important a long, long time from now. For Lady Josiana sees our poor smiling Gwynplaine and, well I can't tell you. And there's Barkilphedro, he's an interesting little guy, I'm glad I don't know him though, I wonder what ever happens to him, I can't remember, my mind was going dead from all the details, for they do continue here and there in the story, that's why I would have liked to cut parts out of the book, not just at the beginning. There is a boxing match of all things I found fascinating, awful, but fascinating. I needed to know what happened next, after it was over and everyone was taken out of the ring, but I never found out, but it was one of those times I couldn't put the book down and it surprised me it was over such a thing. Oh no, someone just got arrested and is being taken to prison, I could now tell you a few things about prisons and the people who are in charge of such things. You see there are travelling magistrates in England, they are called judges of circuit, they only rode on the box though not in the carriage, the Tower of London had its own jurisdiction, its church, its court of justice, and its government apart. The English Court of Admiralty consults and applies the laws of Rhodes and of Oleron, a French island which was once English. A sheriff is a person of high consideration, always an esquire and sometimes a knight. He receives his commission from majesty, except for the sheriff of Westmoreland for some reason I can't remember. The sheriff delivers the jails and is singularly feared and respected. There's also a "wapentake" who walks around touching people with his rod or stick or something and you have to follow him to jail. I feel I am back in that first chapter before the beginning of the book again, and I don't want to be there. You should read the book just because of how many other people love it. You should read it but I'm not going to again. On to the next book finally. Happy reading.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Darja Prudchenko

    3.5/5 stars (read in Russian translation) I really enjoyed “The Man Who Laughs” for what it is: a great, unique story written in a beautiful language. In the book about mutilated man Gwynplaine the author also tells us a story about the riches and the poor, about England and British ruling class, and about the struggles of ordinary people. The book is really built on contrast: pure Dea and spoiled Josiana, nobility and common men, depravity and virtue. Despite my overall positive opinion on the n 3.5/5 stars (read in Russian translation) I really enjoyed “The Man Who Laughs” for what it is: a great, unique story written in a beautiful language. In the book about mutilated man Gwynplaine the author also tells us a story about the riches and the poor, about England and British ruling class, and about the struggles of ordinary people. The book is really built on contrast: pure Dea and spoiled Josiana, nobility and common men, depravity and virtue. Despite my overall positive opinion on the novel, I would also like to cover a few issues that I had with it. First of all, this book doesn’t provide an accurate representation of a human being. The characters are either extremely good or absolute evil, there is no in-between. Female characters, in general, are quite flat. Gwynplaine is definitely a Romantic hero, and have I read “The Man Who Laughs” a few years ago I would have probably rated it higher. But reading it now I could not completely overlook this idealism for I have probably overgrown this type of literature in a way (or maybe I was not in the right mood for it, who knows). Secondly, I found some parts of the book quite boring and unnecessary for the story. I understand why the author wanted to include them, but I was just not interested enough in every historical detail and name provided by Hugo. As much as I understand these were probably the author's intended ideas, this was not something I particularly liked. That's why only 3 stars. Though I should say I loved many things about the novel, especially, the way inner conflict, settings, and feelings were portrayed by the author. The use of language was at the highest level. And, of course, in terms of history, there are many true facts and valid points though intertwined with the author’s strong personal position on the topics.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rick Slane

    Some parts were not too bad and the basic plot was sound but there was too much clutter.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laurie –Read Between The Skylines–

    “The paradise of the rich is made out of the hell of the poor.” SPOILER FREE I can't hide it anymore (I think I actually never hid it), but I'm madly in love with Victor Hugo's writing. I have to admit that I've started this book because the movie was released in France, and I wanted to read it before watching it. I know, I know I should have read it before and not to wait that long especially after knowing how much I loved each Hugo's book I've read. I made the mistake to buy the long version “The paradise of the rich is made out of the hell of the poor.” SPOILER FREE I can't hide it anymore (I think I actually never hid it), but I'm madly in love with Victor Hugo's writing. I have to admit that I've started this book because the movie was released in France, and I wanted to read it before watching it. I know, I know I should have read it before and not to wait that long especially after knowing how much I loved each Hugo's book I've read. I made the mistake to buy the long version and it took me ages to read it. But I looooved it. This book estheticism is amazing, all the characters are wonderful, complex and touching, each one in its way. Some might not like it, because of it's darkness and how depressing it can be, but this is what I like with Hugo. How its work change after his daughter's death in 1843 (especially after "Les Contemplations" published 13 years before "L'Homme Qui Rit") is something that touches me a lot. I won't say much more, I don't want to use spoilers, so my last advice would be : READ THIS BOOK.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Rose

    Victor Hugo is one of my favorite authors, and I was not disappointed with this book. He manages to produce a plot so deftly woven that we are carried away with its current, and never fail to be abrupted when we land on the shore whose course was laid for us all through the story. Somehow Hugo also manages to show us humans as the multi-dimensional things we are, responding banally to the storms and respits our souls encounter. We cannot help but despair when in trials, and think ourselves in hea Victor Hugo is one of my favorite authors, and I was not disappointed with this book. He manages to produce a plot so deftly woven that we are carried away with its current, and never fail to be abrupted when we land on the shore whose course was laid for us all through the story. Somehow Hugo also manages to show us humans as the multi-dimensional things we are, responding banally to the storms and respits our souls encounter. We cannot help but despair when in trials, and think ourselves in heaven in times of peace. The only questions I'd have for Hugo are what happened to Barkipheldro, or the duchess or the Gwynplain's brother? It seems to end suddenly, which makes for a good effect if you consider Gwynplain's choice, but leaves the story a bit stalted. I'm always curious for more, which Hugo hugely delivers, usually. I wish the movie was being released in the States; I'd love to see it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    "...England is reverting at the present moment, thus giving to the world a strange spectacle of a great people, which, in its desire to take the better part, chooses the worse, and which, having before it the past on one side and progress on the other, mistakes its way, and takes night for day," writes Hugo. But ultimately, our heroes and heroines in this beautiful novel do progress, because at the end of the day, within our private lives, we simply must. The plot and various elements of "The Ma "...England is reverting at the present moment, thus giving to the world a strange spectacle of a great people, which, in its desire to take the better part, chooses the worse, and which, having before it the past on one side and progress on the other, mistakes its way, and takes night for day," writes Hugo. But ultimately, our heroes and heroines in this beautiful novel do progress, because at the end of the day, within our private lives, we simply must. The plot and various elements of "The Man Who Laughs" are sensational. The pace is exquisite: this book turns into a true page-turner during the last 200 pages or so. Thanks so much to the goodreads reader who brought this book to my attention as I had never even heard of it. I was unable to connect emotionally with this author's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" or even "Les Miserables". But I found this book to be emotionally riveting. If you like English literature from the 1800s, this is not to be missed.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    This is the first Victor Hugo I’ve tried in French. It’s taken me all summer and I almost wore out my dictionary with unfamiliar nautical and architectural terms, but I have to say that it is oddly compelling for a novel that weaves a melodrama of love and deformity into a historical novel about the difficulty of speaking truth to power set during the reign of Queen Anne. Hugo often sounds as if he has eaten the encyclopedia, so the plentiful footnotes in this edition are huge help if you don’t This is the first Victor Hugo I’ve tried in French. It’s taken me all summer and I almost wore out my dictionary with unfamiliar nautical and architectural terms, but I have to say that it is oddly compelling for a novel that weaves a melodrama of love and deformity into a historical novel about the difficulty of speaking truth to power set during the reign of Queen Anne. Hugo often sounds as if he has eaten the encyclopedia, so the plentiful footnotes in this edition are huge help if you don’t remember who the Duc de Guise was or if your Latin isn’t up to code.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Here's an article about how The Joker is based on the dude from this book. I skipped over the part about this book because it smelled spoilery. Here's an article about how The Joker is based on the dude from this book. I skipped over the part about this book because it smelled spoilery.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    I have another month before graduate school starts, so I've been binge reading. The Man who Laughs is Hugo's 3rd most famous novel. Despite it being FAR shorter than Hunchback or Les Mis, it often feels longer. Sadly, the Man who Laughs sees all of Hugo's worst writing habits in full bloom and with no constraint. Firstly, it must be said that Victor Hugo was a creative genius! He had incredible ideas and produced some of the most beloved intellectual properties of the last 200 years. Unfortunatel I have another month before graduate school starts, so I've been binge reading. The Man who Laughs is Hugo's 3rd most famous novel. Despite it being FAR shorter than Hunchback or Les Mis, it often feels longer. Sadly, the Man who Laughs sees all of Hugo's worst writing habits in full bloom and with no constraint. Firstly, it must be said that Victor Hugo was a creative genius! He had incredible ideas and produced some of the most beloved intellectual properties of the last 200 years. Unfortunately, his execution of those ideas has always fallen short in my opinion. Hugo's reputation has been buoyed by constant adaptations: stage plays, musicals, shows, movies, comics, etc. These adaptations are often arguably better than the originals! Hunchback is infinitely better without an intrusive author voice coming in and screaming to preserve architecture. Les Mis is better when the narrator doesn't stop the story to tell us the history of the Paris sewer system and street slang. The running joke in Hunchback with Pierre becoming a goat fucker wasn't funny and felt completely out of place. Since I finished it last week, lets look at Hunchback. In the original novel, Esmeralda the sympathetic Gypsy isn't actually a Gypsy. She is an ethnic French girl who was abducted by Gypsies and replaced by the deformed Quasimoto, whom the Gypsies found in a field. Esmeralda's mother gives Quasi to a freak show and Frollo adopts him at age 4 because he thinks it will be a free ticket into heaven. Then Esmeralda meets her mother years later through deus ex machina. A huge part of Frollo's character is that he somehow learned all existing human knowledge as of 1480, and went insane trying to study alchemy instead of expanding mathematics or something useful. That sub-plot is cut out of every adaptation because quite honestly it's fucking stupid. Even the Disney version with its singing gargoyles and tonal inconsistencies had a least a dozen plot points and character backgrounds I liked more than the original novel. Hugo works are great...so long as Hugo isn't writing them. The Man Who Laughs is Hugo's full throated attack on Monarchy as a system of government. Even though he already devoted 200 pages of Les Mis to do that just that 10 years earlier. The intrusive narrator dropping boatloads of useless information is back with a vengeance! The melodrama and wild coincidences are dialed up to 11. The ending is so bad I fell out of my chair laughing. The main character escapes danger and manages to find his lost wife. The story is over. If Hugo intended to write a tragedy, he's fucked up at this point. Then Hugo decided this NEEDED a sad ending, so the wife just drops dead suddenly for no reason. Just randomly. I guess she could have had a stroke, but the book never really explains. Then the main character drowns himself. The End. Damn it Hugo! Despite their issues, I do genuinely like Les Mis and Hunchback. This one...not so much. I would skip this book and watch the 1928 film instead.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Perfection.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amani Haak

    This is a difficult and demanding read, but absolutely worth it. It's a story of moral opposites. Victor Hugo has a lot to say about the destructive nature of political power, as well as the envy and injustice that conspire to keep the high and low in their respective places. On top of that it has a well written characters. Gwynplaine, Dea, Ursus and even Homo, they are so amazingly developed and sooo... real. And I´m so sure that I´m going to re-read Ursus´s monologues more than once. The ending This is a difficult and demanding read, but absolutely worth it. It's a story of moral opposites. Victor Hugo has a lot to say about the destructive nature of political power, as well as the envy and injustice that conspire to keep the high and low in their respective places. On top of that it has a well written characters. Gwynplaine, Dea, Ursus and even Homo, they are so amazingly developed and sooo... real. And I´m so sure that I´m going to re-read Ursus´s monologues more than once. The ending of Victor Hugo's books are something amazing, you can guess, but you never can tell. I thought I had the ending figured out, but I was wrong and it took me a whole night for the ending to sink in.

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