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February 2, 2018


Psychanalyse de Victor Hugo

by N@ncy


  • Author: Charles Baudouin (1893 – 1963) was a French-Swiss psychoanalyst
  • Title: Psychanalyse de Victor Hugo
  • Published1943 (original) later in Paris, Ed. Imago, 2008.
  • Trivia:  read for information to help me with  #LesMisReadalong
  • Trivia:  Monthy Reading Plan



  1. This book was written in 1943 yet it never felt dated.
  2. I read it just to discover more about Victor Hugo the man.
  3. The book concentrates on the images used in Hugo’s poems.
  4. The use of antithesis for example…
  5. lumière-ombre, bien-mal, naissance-mort, amour-haine.
  6. The book is not available in English….so I struggled in French.


The author explained many complexes that Hugo was struggling with:

  1. Oedipus – demanding exclusively the love of his mother
  2. Guilt – brother Eugène became insane on Hugo’s wedding day and never recovered .
  3. His brother was madly in love with Adèle Foucher as well.
  4. The Chase – (poursuite)
 Les Mis: Valjean, the outlaw
  5. …his fate (fatalité) purses him.
  6. Retreat – (retraite)
 flee from tyrannical father = outside world
  7. —> to mother = refuge
  8. Les Mis:  Valjean receives  refuge in a convent.
  9. Convent is a typical symbol of a retreat…a maternal aisle.


His exile on Jersey and Guernsey felt like a new freedom.

  1. Hugo was constantly trying to reach the unconscious mind.
  2. He built a special porch on his house to gaze into
  3. … the heavens, stars, cosmos and the sea.

Shadows and darkness permeate Hugo’s thoughts.

  1. He believed that the darkness, the night was the normal state of our lives.
  2. Daylight was only here because our planet was close to a star….the sun.
  3. Abyss (gouffre) is mentioned more than 40 x in Les Misérables.


There are a few symbols that might be used in Les Misérables…..

  1. Spiderweb – In Notre-Dame Follo watches the
  2. fly struggle with the spider.
  3. It represents man’s struggle with inescapable fate (l’araignée)
  4. Spider –  symbol of “La Mere terrible” who succeeds
  5. to imprison child in the chains  in her web.
  6. Birds – represent passionate, free search into doctrines (bird = ideas)
  7. Window – linked to the subconscious
  8. …a place where you can drift into your memories/thoughts.
  9. Cord (rope) – dropped into a well….feeling of mystery, anguish
  10. Hibou (owl) – represents skepticism
  11. Chavue-souris – (bat) represents atheism
  12. Deep well (puits) – eternal mystery
  13. “ Quel puits que le coeur humain…” pg 1265 Les Mis


Charles Baudouin

Read more from French, non-fiction
6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Feb 2 2018

    I look forward to other Hugo titbits that you casually drop into future posts tweets thanks to the knowledge you’ve gained by reading this bio.


    • Feb 2 2018

      Reading Les Mis + other books about Victor Hugo is absolutely fascinating.
      His prestige in our eyes is due to Notre-Dame and Les Mis….but his fame in 19th C was all about his poems and plays! We are not at the end of Les Mis..but the epitath on the last page was inspiried by an unknow gravestone Hugo saw while taking a trip along the Rhine 1840. Hugo never forgot details ….kept notebooks….and gave us some of the greatest literary achievements.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Feb 2 2018

        That’s EXACTLY the kind of interesting titbit I was hoping to get 🙂


  2. Feb 3 2018

    Such an interest post and book. Thanks for sharing the insights with us Nancy.


    • Feb 3 2018

      I’m discovering the many facets of Victor Hugo. 🙂



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