Title: William Shakespeare
Author: Victor Hugo
Translator: A. Baillot
Release Date: November 10, 2016 [EBook #53490]
Produced by Laura N.R. and Marc D’Hooghe at Free Literature (online soon in an extended version, also linking to free sources for education worldwide … MOOC’s, educational materials,…) Images generously made available by the Hathi Trust.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
I made the proofing of this book for Free Literature and it will be published by Project Gutenberg.
Images generously made available by the HathiTrust .
The true title of this work should be, “Apropos to Shakespeare.” The desire of introducing, as they say in England, before the public, the new translation of Shakespeare, has been the first motive of the author. The feeling which interests him so profoundly in the translator should not deprive him of the right to recommend the translation. However, his conscience has been solicited on the other part, and in a more binding way still, by the subject itself. In reference to Shakespeare all questions which touch art are presented to his mind. To treat these questions, is to explain the mission of art; to treat these questions, is to explain the duty of human thought toward man. Such an occasion for speaking
truths imposes a duty, and he is not permitted, above all at such an epoch as ours, to evade it. The author has comprehended this. He has not hesitated to turn the complex questions of art and civilization on their several faces, multiplying the horizons every time that the perspective has displaced itself, and accepting every indication that the subject, in its rigorous necessity, has
offered to him. This expansion of the point of view has given rise to this book.
Homer, Job, Aeschylus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Lucretius, Juvenal, Saint John, Saint Paul, Tacitus, Dante,
Rabelais, Cervantes, Shakespeare.
That is the avenue of the immovable giants of the human mind.
Now, take away from the drama the East and replace it by the North; take away Greece and put England,take away India and put Germany, that other immense mother, All-men (Allemagne); take away Pericles and put Elizabeth; take away the Parthenon and put the Tower of London; take away the plebs and put the mob; take away the fatality and put the melancholy; take away the gorgon and put the witch; take away the eagle and put the cloud; take away the sun and put on the heath, shuddering in the evening wind, the livid light of the moon, and you have Shakespeare.
A Gutenberg discovering the method for the sowing of civilization, and the means for the ubiquity of thought, will be followed by a Christopher Columbus discovering a new field. A Christopher Columbus discovering a world will be followed by a Luther discovering a liberty. After Luther, innovator in the dogma, will come Shakespeare, innovator in art. One genius completes the other.
The bifurcated idea, the idea echoing itself, a lesser drama copying and elbowing the principal drama, the action trailing its own shadow (a smaller action but its parallel), the unity cut asunder,—-surely it is a strange fact. These twin actions have been strongly blamed by the few commentators who have pointed them out.