Hugo on Ressentiment

Victor Hugo and Friedrich Nietzsche In 1869, several years before Nietzsche published his famous analysis of ressentiment in such works as Thus Spoke Zarathustra’s “Flies of the Marketplace” or The Genealogy of Morals’ “Good and Evil, Good and Bad,” Victor Hugo published his novel The Man Who Laughs. In the following chapters Hugo offers a striking anticipation of Nietzsche:

Barkilphedro Gnaws His Way
Hate Is As Strong As Love
The Flame Which Would Be Seen If Man Were Transparent

It would be interesting to know whether Nietzsche read The Man Who Laughs.  (Nietzsche’s passing references to Hugo are dismissive.)  Also, inasmuch as both Hugo and Nietzsche were early favourites of Rand’s, I wonder how much of the portrayal of ressentiment in her novels came from Hugo and not, as is usually assumed, from Nietzsche?

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One Response to Hugo on Ressentiment

  1. Administrator December 7, 2008 at 12:22 am #

    I suppose I should add that there’s a character in Les Misérables — I forget his name (Grantaire?) but he’s the one that’s clearly based on Hugo’s “friend” Sainte-Beuve — whose ressentiment-laced love-hate relationship toward Enjolras (Rand’s favourite Hugo character) is most likely the inspiration for Keating’s similarly ressentiment-laced love-hate relationship toward Roark. And there’s also the play Chantecler by Rostand, another Rand fave ….

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