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Distributed for Swan Isle Press

God and The End of Satan / Dieu and La Fin de Satan

Selections: In a Bilingual Edition

Edited, Translated, and with an Introduction by R. G. Skinner. With a Foreword by E. H. Blackmore and A. M. Blackmore

Distributed for Swan Isle Press

God and The End of Satan / Dieu and La Fin de Satan

Selections: In a Bilingual Edition

Edited, Translated, and with an Introduction by R. G. Skinner. With a Foreword by E. H. Blackmore and A. M. Blackmore
While living in exile with his family on the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy, Victor Hugo wrote some of his greatest poetry and prose, including Les Misérables and two epic poems: Dieu and La Fin de Satan. Dieu pictures the imaginary search for God by a nameless protagonist, who must face the possibility of failure in this quest. La Fin de Satan, an indictment of prison, war, and capital punishment, depicts an attempt at reconciliation between good and evil.

This book brings together abbreviated editions of these two book-length poems—unfinished and unpublished at the time of the author’s death—comprised of selections that capture their visionary and mystical essence. The poems are accompanied by an introduction framing them within the author’s experience as an exile and tracing their publication history.

Victor Hugo is one of the most important figures in the history of French literature, and this beautifully rendered translation brings two of his lesser-known works deservedly to the forefront.

528 pages | 10 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014


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“R. G. Skinner’s carefully edited texts and clear translations allow the overall structure of both books to be followed in a single volume. . . . English-language readers now have access to everything that Hugo earmarked for publication in Dieu and nearly everything that he earmarked for publication in La Fin de Satan—as well as a considerable amount of material that he drafted for these projects but published in other forms or not at all. The most serious gap in English translations of Hugo has now been filled.”

E. H. and A. M. Blackmore, from the foreword

"These late works—rendered into English by R. G. Skinner—are the culminating achievement of a writer who constantly wrestled at the intersection of the head and the heart, and there at that crossroads tried to find avenues into the deepest reaches of humanness. Reminiscent of William Blake’s late mythologies and Leo Tolstoy’s final ‘mystical’ period, they should be read for their insight into Hugo’s art, for the artistry that emerged from the mixing of intellectual memory and aging desire in this engaged artist and intellectual, and for the subject itself: the universe of good and evil."

Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation and editor of The Collected Poems of Marcel Proust

"R. G. Skinner’s edition of Victor Hugo’s epic poems Dieu and La Fin de Satan not only significantly contributes to Hugo scholarship—it also offers general English-language readers Hugo’s provocative insights about God and evil. One of the greatest, most influential French poets, Hugo found himself ’enveloped in poetry amid rocks, meadows, roses, clouds, and the sea’ during his long exile. There, contemplating the ocean and working to understand God and what may come after death, Hugo drafted these two stunningly modern, visionary poems. Skinner’s serious research on the poet’s experiences and thoughts underpins his engaging introduction, informative glossary, and detailed notes. His clear, poetic translations of key selections from these poems will considerably further our understanding of Hugo’s lifelong exploration of infinity.

Marva A. Barnett, University of Virginia, author of Victor Hugo on Things That Matter

“When Hugo died, he left behind two unfinished epic poems of nearly 6,000 lines each. . . . Reminiscent of The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost in their vision and epic sweep, [God and The End of Satan] are among the poet’s most ambitious works. . . . Skinner worked for fifteen years on this translation. In order to respect the powerful imagery of each line, he transformed Hugo’s rhymed couplets into a particular kind of prose organized as verse or free verse. The resulting volume includes key selections of both poems in a beautifully illustrated bilingual edition. It transports the reader into a rarefied sphere of celestial spirits, fallen angels, blinding light, and terrifying darkness. . . . Recommended.”


“This monumental, bilingual edition reconfirms Hugo’s status as one of the greatest poets in history. . . . Stylistically unsurpassed, always deploying a rich vocabulary to question infinity and eternity, Hugo is perhaps the only poet who could reach perfection so easily and so constantly, as proven in these poignant pages. This edition of "God" and "The End of Satan" from Swan Isle Press should be part of all academic and public libraries.”

Nineteenth-Century French Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore
Part One from God
The Threshold of the Abyss
-The Human Spirit
-The Voices
-After the Voices
The Ocean of the Heights
-The Bat
-The Griffin
-The Light
Part Two from The End of Satan
Beyond the Earth I
-And Then There Was Night
The First Page
-The Entry into Darkness
-The Emergence from Darkness
First Book: The Sword
Third Strophe
-According to Orpheus and According to Melchisedech
Sixth Strophe
-The Mindful Magi
Beyond the Earth II
-Satan’s Feather
Second Book: The Gibbet
-Jesus Christ
-The Crucifix
Beyond the Earth III
-Satan in the Night
-In the Air
--Song of the Birds
-The Angel of Liberty
Third Book: The Prison
-The Skeletons
Beyond the Earth IV
-Satan Forgiven
-“O worlds from the beyond…”
-The Great Dead

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