THE RHINE; BY VICTOR HUGO.—(No. IV. Wiley & Putnam’s Foreign Library.)
These volumes exhibit in full light the few striking beauties and many defects of this celebrated writer. An observation clear, bold, but not penetrating, originality but without depth, an imagination brilliant, active, but so far from compact that it gives us only splinters and fragments of the mountain range to whose top its capricious flight has often carried it. A want of inward harmony and nobleness vitiates this narrative of facts as much as the artistical creations of the same mind, for it promises so much at moments we know not how to pardon the shallowness in thought, the false glare cast upon imagery, the crowd and jar in narration. Hugo has really genius, and is the master in the “raw-headand-bloody-bones” style of French fiction. But his coarse phantasmagoria will pass with the audience that craved them, and only the memory be left of a mind whose talents needed a finer culture and other aims to give them a permanent scope. In these volumes may be found sparkling details and a crowd of suggestions, but our traveling companion does not interest us, and we have better guides along the chivalrous Rhine-land, flowery with romance and purple with the most precious vintage of the world.*
“The Rhine; by Victor Hugo . . .” New-York Daily Tribune, 26 November 1845, p. 1.