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La Taxonomie à l’épreuve du Chaos, Hippolyte Crosse, Victor Hugo et la pieuvre

La Taxonomie à l’épreuve du Chaos, Hippolyte Crosse, Victor Hugo et la pieuvre
La Taxonomie à l’épreuve du Chaos, Hippolyte Crosse, Victor Hugo et la pieuvre
The analysis of the reception of literary works by scientists is still an emerging field of epistemocriticism which focuses on the hybridization of knowledge. Yet, this scientific view of literature makes it possible to understand the dynamics of power between the different fields of knowledge. This article undertakes an innovative analysis into why Victor Hugo's octopus triggered the anger of the mollusc specialist Hippolyte Crosse, who published a virulent pamphlet against Hugo’s depiction of the sea animal in the Journal de Conchyliologie. In my reading of Crosse's text, I will argue that it is not so much the zoological inaccuracies that exasperated the scientist but rather the destabilisation of taxonomic knowledge that results from Hugo’s powers of description. As a metaphor of pure becoming and of a form of knowledge in motion, the octopus opposes static knowledge and consequently undermines the foundations of taxonomic work. This study into the relationship between the cephalopod and science provides a finer understanding of Hugo’s epistemology and makes the sexualised and symbolic analysis of the monster more complex.
Victor Hugo, Octopus, Taxonomie, Travailleurs de la mer, Hippolyte Crosse
0016-1128
351-366
Campmas, Aude
daa31e5c-71b6-4148-8877-f51cb998106a
Campmas, Aude
daa31e5c-71b6-4148-8877-f51cb998106a

Campmas, Aude (2019) La Taxonomie à l’épreuve du Chaos, Hippolyte Crosse, Victor Hugo et la pieuvre. French Studies, 73 (3), 351-366. (doi:10.1093/fs/knz134).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The analysis of the reception of literary works by scientists is still an emerging field of epistemocriticism which focuses on the hybridization of knowledge. Yet, this scientific view of literature makes it possible to understand the dynamics of power between the different fields of knowledge. This article undertakes an innovative analysis into why Victor Hugo's octopus triggered the anger of the mollusc specialist Hippolyte Crosse, who published a virulent pamphlet against Hugo’s depiction of the sea animal in the Journal de Conchyliologie. In my reading of Crosse's text, I will argue that it is not so much the zoological inaccuracies that exasperated the scientist but rather the destabilisation of taxonomic knowledge that results from Hugo’s powers of description. As a metaphor of pure becoming and of a form of knowledge in motion, the octopus opposes static knowledge and consequently undermines the foundations of taxonomic work. This study into the relationship between the cephalopod and science provides a finer understanding of Hugo’s epistemology and makes the sexualised and symbolic analysis of the monster more complex.

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Accepted/In Press date: 19 February 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 1 June 2019
Published date: July 2019
Alternative titles: Taxonomie against Chaos, Hippolyte Crosse, Victor Hugo and the Octopus
Keywords: Victor Hugo, Octopus, Taxonomie, Travailleurs de la mer, Hippolyte Crosse

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 430474
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/430474
ISSN: 0016-1128
PURE UUID: c5734310-c69b-4501-90ca-68bd1872e5c2

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Date deposited: 01 May 2019 16:30
Last modified: 13 Nov 2021 05:24

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