The Temptation of the Impossible: Victor Hugo and Les Miserables, A review By American Litterateur

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8358.html

Are you weary of the literary critic who draws his inspiration, indeed, his reason d’être from the laboratory, as if literature were a specimen, to be dissected using the instruments of  a science that creates itself, as it proceeds with its analysis? (But one must be aware always of the dense even unfathomable vocabulary of this procedure, this philosophy, this ‘science’, of this criticism.) Literary Theory: the hybidity of Existentialism, Structuralism, Semiotics, Deconstruction, Lacanian Psychoanalysis and Marxism, born in France in the middle of the 20th Century. The literary critic dons the lab coat, armed with an indecipherable jargon to explicate not the great works of literature, but those at the margins, a la Barthes or Derrida. Only these two thinkers fancied themselves Philosophers and Thinkers comparable to the Auteur. But, please, cast any unnecessary worry aside, for the book under review is The Temptation of the Impossible: Victor Hugo and Les Miserables by Mario Vargas Llosa, a writer not given to the casting of the spell of literary science, as practiced by the Theorists of a, now, fading theoretical past.  But an artist concerned with texts and contexts, of Literary History and the grand project of Literature, without apology. Read Mr. Llosa’s book in full confidence of the reliability of his power of explication, to cast light on this great text, marvel at his ability to bring the story and its writing into its’ literary, political, even psychological context of the literary giant, Mr. Victor Hugo; with a passion that makes the reading of this book a pleasure from beginning to end. I devoured this book in large chunks, putting it down only when sleepfulness and the late hour made resistance impossible.

American Litterateur

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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