Thursday, 11 June 2009


One set of books I’ve not read (and haven’t made plans to read, I'm afraid) is Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”. However, I have seen and read enough about the books for this extract from Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’ to make me wonder if this is where he got the idea for ‘daemons’ from?

“It is our conviction that if souls were visible to the eye we should distinctly see this strange fact that each individual of the human species corresponds to some one of the species of the animal creation; and we should clearly recognise the truth, hardly perceived by thinkers, that, from the oyster to the eagle, from the swine to the tiger, all animals are in man and that each of them is in a man; sometimes even several of them at a time.
Animals are nothing but the forms of our virtues and vices wandering before our eyes, the visible phantoms of our souls.”

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables (1862)

Wikipedia says that he got the idea from Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" (1489–90), as well as from two portraits by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Hans Holbein the Younger. But I’m wondering now – did Hugo inspire it as well? What do you think? Coincidence? They do say there’s no such thing as a new idea.

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