Mingling, Mutilation, and the Modern

“…. the modern muse will see things in a higher and broader light. It will realize that everything in creation is not humanly beautiful, that the ugly exists beside the beautiful, the unshapely beside the graceful, the grotesque on the reverse of the sublime, evil with good, darkness with light. It will ask itself… if a mutilated nature will be the more beautiful for the mutilation; if art has the right to duplicate, so to speak, man, life, creation; if things will progress better when their muscles and their vigor have been taken from them; if, in short, to be incomplete is the best way to be harmonious. Then it is that… poetry will take a great step, a decisive step, a step which… will change the whole face of the intellectual world. It will set about doing as nature does, mingling in its creations–but without confounding them–darkness and light, the grotesque and the sublime; in other words, the body and the soul, the beast and the intellect…. All things are connected.

“Thus, then, we see a principle unknown to the ancients, a new type, introduced in poetry; and as an additional element in anything modified the whole of the thing, a new form of the art is developed. This type is the grotesque; its new form is comedy.”

Hugo, Victor. Preface to Cromwell.

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