19th Century

New Edition of Victor Hugo’s Songs of Twilight | Stephen Basdeo and Jessica Elizabeth Thomas

Stephen Basdeo and Jessica Elizabeth Thomas

Since the re-branding of this website back in May 2021, its inclusion by Google in its Newsstand app, and this month’s decision by the British Library to officially archive this website’s content for future generations, it’s fair to say that the past few months have been a period of growth here at Reynolds’s News and Miscellany.

Victor Hugo in the 1830s, shortly before he wrote Songs of Twilight.

The editors, Stephen Basdeo and Jessica Elizabeth Thomas, also decided to branch out into the book trade by publishing books under the Reynolds’s News and Miscellany imprint. We’re therefore pleased to announce the official publication of this magazine’s first book: A new edition of Victor Hugo’s Songs of Twilight.

It is a collection of poetry, originally translated by G.W.M. Reynolds and published by the French, English, and American Library, based at 55 Rue Neuve St Augustin in 1836.

Reynolds’s edition of Songs of Twilight was never destined to be best-seller and very few copies were printed; indeed, it’s so rare that, to our knowledge, the only other copy that survives is held in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (to whom we’re grateful for supplying digitised copies).

Stephen Basdeo has newly edited the collection of poetry which is printed in easy-to-read modern type but retains everything from the original including Reynolds’s explanatory notes.

The collection contains poems celebrating the 1830 Revolution in France and others honouring Napoleon II, and Greek and Polish patriots.

Of the collection, Hugo said that

The chief aim of the author in the following Poems, and the principal groundwork of their subject, is the representation of that strange predicament of twilight in which the human mind, and society in general, are involved—a mist without, and doubt within—a species of illuminated fog that envelopes us. Hence, in this work, may the reader account for those ebullitions of hope mingled with uncertainty—those tender couplets concluded with others of complaint—that calmness touched with melancholy—those sighs of delight—that feebleness suddenly reviving—that resigned infelicity—that profound sorrow exciting the very surface of the sea of poetry—those serene contemplations of political tumults—those holy wanderings from public to domestic matters—the dread that all proceed darkly in the world—and then those intervals of joyous and burning hope that the human species yet may bloom to excel! In this book, therefore—small though it be when compared with the vast magnitude of its subject—there are a thousand discrepancies—lustre and obscurity, which pervade all we see, and all we conceive in this age of twilight, which envelope our political theories, our religious opinions, our domestic life, and which are even discovered in the histories we write of others, as well as in those of ourselves.

The book is available in hardback from the distributor, Lulu, and is sold at cost price by clicking HERE.

True to this magazine’s mission of bringing hitherto little known historical novels and poetry to people for free, however, the book can be downloaded as a PDF gratis.

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