December 22, 2008
Coming up next: Hey, didn’t that hump used to be on the other shoulder?
by Dennis Johnson
A French court has declared that Victor Hugo — dead since 1885 — has no “moral right” sufficient to block publication of sequels to his books concocted by modern day writers. According to a Reuters wire story, descendents led by Pierre Hugo had brought suit against the French publishing house Plon for its publication of two “sequels” to Les Miserables by a modern day author named Francois Ceresa. The family had been supported in its efforts by the Societe des Gens de Lettres, an authors’ rights group organized in 1838 by Honore de Balzac, Alexandre Dumas and Hugo himself. After a lower court ruled in favor of the family, Plon appealed, saying the ban “contravened the principle of freedom of expression.” A final court of appeals agreed, not only dismissing the suit, but ordering the family to pay €10,000 ($13.960) to Plon for damages and interest.
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives