Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs | 2024

Lead Faculty
Shoshana Milgram

Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs: The Hero with the Passion and Power of Prometheus.

The Man Who Laughs, according to Ayn Rand, was the best novel ever written by Victor Hugo, her favorite novelist. Together, we will see why she was right. In our course, we will analyze its structure, relish its descriptive style, and appreciate the integration of the suspenseful plot with the theme, colorful drama, and razor-sharp character portrayals. We will focus especially on the dramatic set-up, key turning points in the hero’s life, the crucial conflicts and contrasts, the moments when the “man who laughs” becomes the man who acts, and speaks—and, of course, the scene Ayn Rand said was the one scene, in all world literature, she wished she had written.

In the course, we will read the novel in parts, with no more than 100 pages per week, and sometimes less. If you are reading the novel in English, I recommend the only complete English translation in print, The Laughing Man, translated by the award- winning James Hogarth, published by Kennedy and Boyd in 2008 (ISBN 1 904999 84 3). (Other in-print or electronic editions have some omissions, though they do render the narrative.) If you are reading the novel in French, the two-volume Nelson edition has the full text and is the edition in Ayn Rand’s library.

Prerequisites: To enroll in this course students must be enrolled in “Objectivism through Ayn Rand’s Fiction” or have completed it. This does not apply to auditors.

Audit the Class

Auditing is a great choice for students who want to attend live lectures, ask questions, and participate in some discussions, but do not want to submit assignments.

A typical auditor is a busy professional or retiree, who finds our courses enriching and seeks to learn from our faculty as a hobby. You do not need to apply to audit, simply pay the tuition fee and you will be automatically enrolled in the course.


Apply to be a Graded Student

Graded students in this course are expected to attend lectures and discussion sections, and also to submit assignments to the faculty. Assignments will be graded and given feedback.

To enter this course as a graded student, you must be accepted into the graded program of Ayn Rand University and achieve the necessary prerequisites. Your annual tuition covers as many courses as you wish to take. Most accepted students are granted scholarships, which substantially defray their tuition cost.

Scholarships Available

Monday, 7 – 9 AM PT

Live Class

April 1, 2024

Start Date

Lead Faculty







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