This article shows how the Hugolian monster’s speech metamorphoses into a new deformed discourse. The hybrid and excessive physical forms of two key monsters – Quasimodo of Notre-Dame de Paris and Gwynplaine of L’Homme qui rit – become mirrored in the contours of their language. The text, in turn, transforms into a foire-like spectacle where grotesque discourse is the headline performer. This revolution of literary form invites discussion of the socio-political dimensions of the works. Throwing a spotlight on reader-spectators as well as text-spectacle, this study interrogates both the nineteenth-century desire for deformity and our own contemporary thirst for the monstrous.