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Romantic Movement II

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Corina Sandu

1LECTURE IVTHE ROMANTIC MOVEMENT IIVictor Hugothere are perhaps four figures which stand out when we consider the evolution of Romantic poetry and Victor Hugo is without a doubt the most outstanding of them all for many reasonsthin the eyes of many critics Hugo dominated a large part of the 19 century thin the same way which Voltaire had dominated the 18 centuryhis ambition was one of his ruling passionsonly fourteen years old he wrote Je veux tre Chateaubriand ou rien I want to be Chateaubriand or nothingHugo tookhis first steps as a literary professional when at 18 he joined his two older brothers in the founding of a newspaper Le Conservateur littraire a Catholic and monarchist journalthree years later his first collection of poems was published Odes and although the poems were heavily influenced by the work of Chateaubriand and Lamartine the preface which Hugo composed for the volume expressed two important ideas which would characterize the rest of his poetic production and which in retrospect are fundamental to Romantic thoughtalthough Hugo had an enormous amount of sympathy for the common people seen especially in NotreDame of Paris and Les Misrables he was extremely aware of his own intellectual superiority and convinced that it was his mission to lead the people through his workhe wrote The poet must walk ahead of the people like a light and show them the wayThe poet should never echo anyones words except the word of GodHugos poetry exemplifies many of the Romantic characteristics we have already identifiedsubjectivity spirituality passion exoticism and perhaps more than any of his contemporaries the technical innovation and virtuosity which is identified with Romantic poetrypreRomantic poetry had been characterized by highlystructured verse forms the alexandrin12syllable lines governed by fixed rulesHugo also used this verse form but modified it to suit his needs sometimes abandoning it altogether in order to produce poems which are the works of a real virtuoso like for example Les Djinns where Hugo presents an explosion of traditional poetic formLes Djinns is part of the third poetry collection published by Hugo Les Orientales in 1829 a collection which is particularly influenced by the Romantic taste for all things exotic and picturesque
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