The Man Who Laughs - PDF novel by Victor Hugo

The Man Who Laughs

The Man Who Laughs




The Man Who Laughs (also published under the title By Order of the King from its subtitle in French) is a novel by Victor Hugo, originally published in April 1869 under the French title L'Homme qui rit. It takes place in England in the 1680s and 1700s, during the reigns of James II and Queen Anne, respectively, and depicts England's royalty and aristocracy of the time as cruel and power-hungry. 

Hugo intended parallels between England depicted and the France of Louis-Philippe and the RĂ©gence
Plot:
the life of a young nobleman, Gwynplaine, disfigured as a child (on the orders of the king), who travels with his protector and companion the vagabond philosopher Ursus and the baby girl he rescues during a storm. The novel is famous for Gwynplaine's mutilated face, stuck in a permanent laugh. The book has inspired many artists, dramatists, and film-makers


Review by 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 favourite 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 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. 


Publication date: 1871.
 
Download  12 MB PDF book
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