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Les Chatiments

hugo, napoleon and edition

LES CHATIMENTS, la shat'e-maie. 'Les Chatiments,) one of the important poetical works of Victor Hugo, was written during his exile after the coup d'Etat of 2 Dec. 1851. A partial edition published in Brussels prompted the author to give a complete edition from the Channel Island of Jersey where be was then residing (1853). It was only in 1870, after the fall of Napoleon III, that a final edition could be publicly issued in France. 'Les Chatiments) is a collection of poems protesting against the political crime of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, in which lyrical satire assumes the most varied forms, from sublime eloquence to abusive, al most coarse, personalities. This protestation of right against might, of justice against violence, gives to the author full opportunity to display the qualities which characterize his poetical' works: power of imagination, suggestion and association, combined in this case with a per sonal feeling of indignation against what he considers as a public calamity and a step back ward in the road of social and political ptog ress. Although the book is divided into seven

parts, there is no real sequence nor order in this collection of satirical poems, but this defect is more than balanced by the admirable com bination of poetical forms, the variety of tones, rhythms and metres, the richness of the vo cabulary, the harmony of words well suited to the expression of the thought or to the char acter of the subject. Hugo's fondness for antithesis in words as in composition is seen throughout the work and some of the poems consist of two symmetrically balanced parts. Probably the best known of them is ation,' in which occur the epic descriptions of Napoleon I's retreat from Russia and of the battle of Waterloo. Consult Swinburne,