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Prophetic Chattiness

Patrick McGuinness: Victor Hugo, 19 June 2003

The Distance, The Shadows: Selected Poems 
by Victor Hugo, translated by Harry Guest.
Anvil, 250 pp., £12.95, November 2002, 0 85646 345 0
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Selected Poetry 
by Victor Hugo, translated by Steven Monte.
Carcanet, 305 pp., £12.95, September 2001, 1 85754 539 7
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Selected Poems of Victor Hugo: A Bilingual Edition 
edited by E.H. Blackmore and A.M. Blackmore.
Chicago, 631 pp., £24.50, April 2001, 0 226 35980 8
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... The size and variety of Victor Hugo’s oeuvre – around 200,000 lines of verse, plus dozens of novels, plays and critical works – makes it difficult to get an overview, let alone make a selection. In his Hugoliade, Ionesco suggested that Hugo’s best chance of survival lay in the impossibility of reading everything he’d written. But no other French poet has had such influence: unlike Baudelaire and Mallarmé, Hugo affected more or less every poet who came after him ...

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