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Victor Hugo

Woodburytype of Victor Hugo by Étienne Carjat, circa 1880
Born 26 February 1802 (1802-02-26)
Besançon, France
Died 22 May 1885 (1885-05-23) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Occupation poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights campaigner
Literary movement Romanticism
Signature

Victor-Marie Hugo (French pronunciation: [viktɔʁ maʁi yˈɡo]) (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France.

In France, Hugo's literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem, and Hugo is sometimes identified as the greatest French poet. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English also as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).

Though a committed conservative royalist when he was young, Hugo grew more liberal as the decades passed; he became a passionate supporter of republicanism, and his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and artistic trends of his time. He is buried in the Panthéon.

Contents

Life

Victor Hugo was the third and last son of Joseph Léopold Sigisbert Hugo (1773–1828) and Sophie Trébuchet (1772-1821); his brothers were Abel Joseph Hugo (1798–1855) and Eugène Hugo (1800–1837). He was born in 1802 in Besançon (in the region of Franche-Comté) and lived in France for the majority of his life. However, he was forced into exile during the reign of Napoleon III — he lived briefly in Brussels during 1851; in Jersey from 1852 to 1855; and in Guernsey from 1855 to 1870 and again in 1872-1873. There was a general amnesty in 1859; after that, his exile was by choice.

Hugo's early childhood was marked by great events. The decades prior to his birth saw the overthrow of the Bourbon Dynasty in the French Revolution, the rise and fall of the First Republic, and the rise of the First French Empire and dictatorship under Napoléon Bonaparte. Napoléon was proclaimed Emperor two years after Hugo's birth, and the Bourbon Monarchy was restored before his eighteenth birthday. The opposing political and religious views of Hugo's parents reflected the forces that would battle for supremacy in France throughout his life: Hugo's father was an officer who ranked very high in Napoleon's army. He was an atheist republican who considered Napoléon a hero; his mother was an extreme Catholic Royalist who is believed to have taken as her lover General Victor Lahorie, who was executed in 1812 for plotting against Napoléon. Since Hugo's father, Joseph, was an officer, they moved frequently and Hugo learned much from these travels. On his family's journey to Naples, he saw the vast Alpine passes and the snowy peaks, the magnificently blue Mediterranean, and Rome during its festivities. Though he was only nearly six at the time, he remembered the half-year-long trip vividly. They stayed in Naples for a few months and then headed back to Paris.

Sophie followed her husband to posts in Italy (where Léopold served as a governor of a province near Naples) and Spain (where he took charge of three Spanish provinces). Weary of the constant moving required by military life, and at odds with her unfaithful husband, Sophie separated temporarily from Léopold in 1803 and settled in Paris. Thereafter she dominated Hugo's education and upbringing. As a result, Hugo's early work in poetry and fiction reflect a passionate devotion to both King and Faith. It was only later, during the events leading up to France's 1848 Revolution, that he would begin to rebel against his Catholic Royalist education and instead champion Republicanism and Freethought.

Young Victor fell in love and against his mother's wishes, became secretly engaged to his childhood friend Adèle Foucher (1803-1868).

Unusually close to his mother, he felt free to marry Adèle (in 1822) only after his mother's death in 1821. They had their first child Léopold in 1823, but the boy died in infancy. Hugo's other children were Léopoldine (28 August 1824), Charles (4 November 1826), François-Victor Hugo|François-Victor (28 October 1828) and Adèle Hugo|Adèle (24 August 1830). Hugo published his first novel the following year (Han d'Islande, 1823), and his second three years later (Bug-Jargal, 1826). Between 1829 and 1840 he would publish five more volumes of poetry (Les Orientales, 1829; Les Feuilles d'automne, 1831; Les Chants du crépuscule, 1835; Les Voix intérieures, 1837; and Les Rayons et les ombres, 1840), cementing his reputation as one of the greatest elegiac and lyric poets of his time.

Illustration by Alfred Barbou from the original edition of Notre Dame de Paris (1831)

Victor Hugo was devastated when his oldest and favorite daughter, Léopoldine, died at age 19 in 1843, shortly after her marriage. She was drowned in the Seine at Villequier, pulled down by her heavy skirts, when a boat overturned. Her young husband died trying to save her. Victor Hugo was traveling with his mistress at the time in the south of France, and learned about Léopoldine's death from a newspaper as he sat in a cafe.[1] He describes his shock and grief in his poem À Villequier:

Hélas ! vers le passé tournant un oeil d'envie,
Sans que rien ici-bas puisse m'en consoler,
Je regarde toujours ce moment de ma vie
Où je l'ai vue ouvrir son aile et s'envoler !

Je verrai cet instant jusqu'à ce que je meure,
L'instant, pleurs superflus !
Où je criai : L'enfant que j'avais tout à l'heure,
Quoi donc ! je ne l'ai plus !

Alas! turning an envious eye towards the past,
unconsolable by anything on earth,
I keep looking at that moment of my life
when I saw her open her wings and fly away!

I will see that instant until I die,
that instant-- too much for tears!
when I cried out: "The child that I had just now--
what! I don't have her any more!"


He wrote many poems afterwards about his daughter's life and death, and at least one biographer claims he never completely recovered from it. His most famous poem is probably Demain, dès l'aube, in which he describes visiting her grave.

Writings

Like many young writers of his generation, Hugo was profoundly influenced by François-René de Chateaubriand, the famous figure in the literary movement of Romanticism and France’s preëminent literary figure during the early 1800s. In his youth, Hugo resolved to be “Chateaubriand or nothing,” and his life would come to parallel that of his predecessor in many ways. Like Chateaubriand, Hugo would further the cause of Romanticism, become involved in politics as a champion of Republicanism, and be forced into exile due to his political stances. The precocious passion and eloquence of Hugo's early work brought success and fame at an early age. His first collection of poetry (Odes et poésies diverses) was published in 1822, when Hugo was only twenty years old, and earned him a royal pension from Louis XVIII. Though the poems were admired for their spontaneous fervor and fluency, it was the collection that followed four years later in 1826 (Odes et Ballades) that revealed Hugo to be a great poet, a natural master of lyric and creative song.

Victor Hugo's first mature work of fiction appeared in 1829, and reflected the acute social conscience that would infuse his later work. Le Dernier jour d'un condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man) would have a profound influence on later writers such as Albert Camus, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Claude Gueux, a documentary short story about a real-life murderer who had been executed in France, appeared in 1834, and was later considered by Hugo himself to be a precursor to his great work on social injustice, Les Misérables. But Hugo’s first full-length novel[citation needed] would be the enormously successful Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), which was published in 1831 and quickly translated into other languages across Europe. One of the effects of the novel was to shame the City of Paris into restoring the much-neglected Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was attracting thousands of tourists who had read the popular novel. The book also inspired a renewed appreciation for pre-renaissance buildings, which thereafter began to be actively preserved.

Portrait of "Cosette" by Émile Bayard, from the original edition of Les Misérables (1862)

Hugo began planning a major novel about social misery and injustice as early as the 1830s, but it would take a full 17 years for Les Misérables, to be realized and finally published in 1862. The author was acutely aware of the quality of the novel and publication of the work went to the highest bidder. The Belgian publishing house Lacroix and Verboeckhoven undertook a marketing campaign unusual for the time, issuing press releases about the work a full six months before the launch. It also initially published only the first part of the novel (“Fantine”), which was launched simultaneously in major cities. Installments of the book sold out within hours, and had enormous impact on French society. The critical establishment was generally hostile to the novel; Taine found it insincere, Barbey d'Aurevilly complained of its vulgarity, Flaubert found within it "neither truth nor greatness," the Goncourts lambasted its artificiality, and Baudelaire - despite giving favorable reviews in newspapers - castigated it in private as "tasteless and inept." Les Misérables proved popular enough with the masses that the issues it highlighted were soon on the agenda of the French National Assembly. Today the novel remains his most enduringly popular work. It is popular worldwide, has been adapted for cinema, television and stage shows.

The shortest correspondence in history is between Hugo and his publisher Hurst & Blackett in 1862. It is said Hugo was on vacation when Les Misérables (which is over 1200 pages) was published. He telegraphed the single-character message '?' to his publisher, who replied with a single '!'.[citation needed]

Hugo turned away from social/political issues in his next novel, Les Travailleurs de la Mer (Toilers of the Sea), published in 1866. Nonetheless, the book was well received, perhaps due to the previous success of Les Misérables. Dedicated to the channel island of Guernsey where he spent 15 years of exile, Hugo’s depiction of Man’s battle with the sea and the horrible creatures lurking beneath its depths spawned an unusual fad in Paris: Squids. From squid dishes and exhibitions, to squid hats and parties, Parisians became fascinated by these unusual sea creatures, which at the time were still considered by many to be mythical.[citation needed] The word used in Guernsey to refer to squid (pieuvre, also sometimes applied to octopus) was to enter the French language as a result of its use in the book. Hugo returned to political and social issues in his next novel, L'Homme Qui Rit (The Man Who Laughs), which was published in 1869 and painted a critical picture of the aristocracy. However, the novel was not as successful as his previous efforts, and Hugo himself began to comment on the growing distance between himself and literary contemporaries such as Flaubert and Émile Zola, whose realist and naturalist novels were now exceeding the popularity of his own work. His last novel, Quatre-vingt-treize (Ninety-Three), published in 1874, dealt with a subject that Hugo had previously avoided: the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Though Hugo’s popularity was on the decline at the time of its publication, many now consider Ninety-Three to be a work on par with Hugo’s better-known novels.

Political life and exile

After three unsuccessful attempts, Hugo was finally elected to the Académie française in 1841, solidifying his position in the world of French arts and letters. A group of French academiciens, particularly Etienne de Jouy was fighting against the "romantic evolution" and had managed to delay Victor Hugo's election [2]. Thereafter he became increasingly involved in French politics. He was elevated to the peerage by King Louis-Philippe in 1841 and entered the Higher Chamber as a pair de France, where he spoke against the death penalty and social injustice, and in favour of freedom of the press and self-government for Poland. However, he was also becoming more supportive of the Republican form of government and, following the 1848 Revolution and the formation of the Second Republic, was elected to the Constitutional Assembly and the Legislative Assembly.

Among the Rocks on Jersey (1853-55)

When Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) seized complete power in 1851, establishing an anti-parliamentary constitution, Hugo openly declared him a traitor to France. He relocated to Brussels, then Jersey, and finally settled with his family on the channel island of Guernsey at Hauteville House, where he would live in exile until 1870.

While in exile, Hugo published his famous political pamphlets against Napoleon III, Napoléon le Petit and Histoire d'un crime. The pamphlets were banned in France, but nonetheless had a strong impact there. He also composed or published some of his best work during his period in Guernsey, including Les Misérables, and three widely praised collections of poetry (Les Châtiments, 1853; Les Contemplations, 1856; and La Légende des siècles, 1859).

He convinced the government of Queen Victoria to spare the lives of six Irish people convicted of terrorist activities and his influence was credited in the removal of the death penalty from the constitutions of Geneva, Portugal and Colombia.[3] He had also pleaded for Benito Juarez to spare the recently captured emperor Maximilian I of Mexico but to no avail.

Although Napoleon III granted an amnesty to all political exiles in 1859, Hugo declined, as it meant he would have to curtail his criticisms of the government. It was only after Napoleon III fell from power and the Third Republic was proclaimed that Hugo finally returned to his homeland in 1870, where he was promptly elected to the National Assembly and the Senate.

He was in Paris during the siege by the Prussian army in 1870, famously eating animals given to him by the Paris zoo. As the siege continued, and food became ever more scarce, he wrote in his diary that he was reduced to "eating the unknown."

Because of his concern for the rights of artists and copyright, he was a founding member of the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale, which led to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

Religious views

Hugo's religious views changed radically over the course of his life. In his youth, he identified himself as a Catholic and professed respect for Church hierarchy and authority. From there he became a non-practicing Catholic, and increasingly expressed anti-catholic and anti-clerical views. He dabbled in Spiritualism during his exile (where he participated also in seances), and in later years settled into a Rationalist Deism similar to that espoused by Voltaire. A census-taker asked Hugo in 1872 if he was a Catholic, and he replied, "No. A Freethinker".

Hugo never lost his antipathy towards the Roman Catholic Church, due largely to what he saw as the Church's indifference to the plight of the working class under the oppression of the monarchy; and perhaps also due to the frequency with which Hugo's work appeared on the Pope's list of "proscribed books" (Hugo counted 740 attacks on Les Misérables in the Catholic press). On the deaths of his sons Charles and François-Victor, he insisted that they be buried without crucifix or priest, and in his will made the same stipulation about his own death and funeral. However, although Hugo believed Catholic dogma to be outdated and dying, he never directly attacked the institution itself. He also remained a deeply religious man who strongly believed in the power and necessity of prayer.

Hugo's Rationalism can be found in poems such as Torquemada (1869, about religious fanaticism), The Pope (1878, anti-clerical), Religions and Religion (1880, denying the usefulness of churches) and, published posthumously, The End of Satan and God (1886 and 1891 respectively, in which he represents Christianity as a griffin and Rationalism as an angel). "Religions pass away, but God remains", Hugo declared. Christianity would eventually disappear, he predicted, but people would still believe in "God, Soul, and the Power."[citation needed]

Victor Hugo and music

Photogravure of Victor Hugo, 1883

Although Hugo's many talents did not include exceptional musical ability, he nevertheless had a great impact on the music world through the endless inspiration that his works provided for composers of the 19th and 20th century. Hugo himself particularly enjoyed the music of Gluck and Weber and greatly admired Beethoven, and rather unusually for his time, he also appreciated works by composers from earlier centuries such as Palestrina and Monteverdi. Two famous musicians of the 19th century were friends of Hugo: Berlioz and Liszt. The latter played Beethoven in Hugo’s home, and Hugo joked in a letter to a friend that thanks to Liszt’s piano lessons, he learned how to play a favourite song on the piano – even though only with one finger! Hugo also worked with composer Louise Bertin, writing the libretto for her 1836 opera La Esmeralda which was based on the character in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.[4] Although for various reasons the opera closed soon after its fifth performance and is little known today, it has been recently enjoying a revival, both in a piano/song concert version by Liszt at the Festival international Victor Hugo et Égaux 2007[5] and in a full orchestral version to be presented in July 2008 at Le Festival de Radio France et Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon.[6]

Well over one thousand musical compositions have been inspired by Hugo’s works from the 1800s until the present day. In particular, Hugo’s plays, in which he rejected the rules of classical theatre in favour of romantic drama, attracted the interest of many composers who adapted them into operas. More than one hundred operas are based on Hugo’s works and among them are Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia (1833), Verdi’s Rigoletto (1851) and Ernani (1844), and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (1876). Hugo’s novels as well as his plays have been a great source of inspiration for musicians, stirring them to create not only opera and ballet but musical theatre such as Notre-Dame de Paris and the ever-popular Les Misérables, London West End’s longest running musical. Additionally, Hugo’s beautiful poems have attracted an exceptional amount of interest from musicians, and numerous melodies have been based on his poetry by composers such as Berlioz, Bizet, Fauré, Franck, Lalo, Liszt, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninov and Wagner.[7]

Today, Hugo’s work continues to stimulate musicians to create new compositions. For example, Hugo’s novel against capital punishment, The Last Day of a Condemned Man, has recently been adapted into an opera by David Alagna (libretto by Frédérico Alagna). Their brother, tenor Roberto Alagna, performed in the opera’s premiere in Paris in the summer of 2007 and again in February 2008 in Valencia with Erwin Schrott as part of the Festival international Victor Hugo et Égaux 2008.[8] In Guernsey, every two years the Victor Hugo International Music Festival attracts a wide range of musicians and the premiere of songs specially commissioned from Guillaume Connesson and based on Hugo’s poetry.

Declining years and death

Victor Hugo, by Alphonse Legros.
Tomb of Victor Hugo and Émile Zola.

When Hugo returned to Paris in 1870, the country hailed him as a national hero. Despite his popularity Hugo lost his bid for reelection to the National Assembly in 1872. Within a brief period, he suffered a mild stroke, his daughter Adèle’s internment in an insane asylum, and the death of his two sons. (Adèle's biography inspired the movie The Story of Adele H.) His wife Adèle had died in 1868. His faithful mistress, Juliette Drouet, died in 1883, only two years before his own death. Despite his personal loss, Hugo remained committed to the cause of political change. On 30 January 1876 Hugo was elected to the newly created Senate. The last phase of his political career is considered a failure. Hugo took on the role of a maverick and got little done in the Senate.

In February 1881 Hugo celebrated his 79th birthday. To honor the fact that he was entering his eightieth year, one of the greatest tributes to a living writer was held. The celebrations began on the 25th when Hugo was presented with a Sèvres vase, the traditional gift for sovereigns. On the 27th one of the largest parades in French history was held. Marchers stretched from Avenue d'Eylau, down the Champs-Élysées, and all the way to the center of Paris. The paraders marched for six hours to pass Hugo as he sat in the window at his house. Every inch and detail of the event was for Hugo; the official guides even wore cornflowers as an allusion to Cosette's song in Les Misérables.

Victor Hugo's death on 22 May 1885, at the age of 83, generated intense national mourning. He was not only revered as a towering figure in literature, he was a statesman who shaped the Third Republic and democracy in France. More than two million people joined his funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon, where he was buried. He shares a crypt within the Panthéon with Alexandre Dumas and Émile Zola. Most large French towns and cities have a street named for him. The avenue where he died, in Paris, now bears his name.

Drawings

Many are not aware that Hugo was almost as prolific in the visual arts as he was in literature, producing more than 4,000 drawings in his lifetime. Originally pursued as a casual hobby, drawing became more important to Hugo shortly before his exile, when he made the decision to stop writing in order to devote himself to politics. Drawing became his exclusive creative outlet during the period 1848-1851.

Hugo worked only on paper, and on a small scale; usually in dark brown or black pen-and-ink wash, sometimes with touches of white, and rarely with color. The surviving drawings are surprisingly accomplished and "modern" in their style and execution, foreshadowing the experimental techniques of Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.

He would not hesitate to use his children's stencils, ink blots, puddles and stains, lace impressions, "pliage" or folding (i.e. Rorschach blots), "grattage" or rubbing, often using the charcoal from match sticks or his fingers instead of pen or brush. Sometimes he would even toss in coffee or soot to get the effects he wanted. It is reported that Hugo often drew with his left hand or without looking at the page, or during Spiritualist séances, in order to access his unconscious mind, a concept only later popularized by Sigmund Freud.

Hugo kept his artwork out of the public eye, fearing it would overshadow his literary work. However, he enjoyed sharing his drawings with his family and friends, often in the form of ornately handmade calling cards, many of which were given as gifts to visitors when he was in political exile. Some of his work was shown to, and appreciated by, contemporary artists such as Van Gogh and Delacroix; the latter expressed the opinion that if Hugo had decided to become a painter instead of a writer, he would have outshone the artists of their century.

Gallery:

Memorials

Victor Hugo cabinet card by London Stereoscopic Company

The people of Guernsey erected a statue in Candie Gardens (St. Peter Port) to commemorate his stay in the islands. The City of Paris has preserved his residences Hauteville House, Guernsey and 6, Place des Vosges, Paris as museums. The house where he stayed in Vianden, Luxembourg, in 1871 has also become a commemorative museum.

Hugo is venerated as a saint in the Vietnamese religion of Cao Dai.[9]

The Avenue Victor-Hugo in the XVIème arrondissement of Paris bears Hugo's name, and links the Place de l'Étoile to the vicinity of the Bois de Boulogne by way of the Place Victor-Hugo. This square is served by a Paris Métro stop also named in his honor. A number of streets and avenues throughout France are likewise named after him. The school Lycée Victor Hugo was founded in his town of birth, Besançon in France. Avenue Victor-Hugo, located in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada, was named to honor him.

In the city of Avellino, Italy, Victor Hugo lived briefly stayed in what is now known as Il Palazzo Culturale, when reuniting with his father, Leopold Sigisbert Hugo, in 1808. Victor would later write about his brief stay here quoting "C’était un palais de marbre...". In the city of Edinburgh, Scotland there is a delicatessen named Victor Hugo Delicatessen, it was originally run by a French couple but was purchased in 2005. The shop is on Melville Terrace, over looking the meadows and next to University of Edinburgh halls of residence, Sciennes.[10]

Works

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Published during Hugo's lifetime

Poems of Victor Hugo

Published posthumously

  • Théâtre en liberté (1886)
  • La fin de Satan (1886)
  • Choses vues (1887)
  • Toute la lyre (1888)
  • Amy Robsart (1889)
  • Les Jumeaux (1889)
  • Actes et Paroles Depuis l'exil, 1876-1885 (1889)
  • Alpes et Pyrénées (1890)
  • Dieu (1891)
  • France et Belgique (1892)
  • Toute la lyre - dernière série (1893)
  • Les fromages (1895)
  • Correspondences - Tome I (1896)
  • Correspondences - Tome II (1898)
  • Les années funestes (1898)
  • Choses vues - nouvelle série (1900)
  • Post-scriptum de ma vie (1901)
  • Dernière Gerbe (1902)
  • Mille francs de récompense (1934)
  • Océan. Tas de pierres (1942)
  • L'Intervention (1951)
  • Conversations with Eternity

Online texts

References

  1. ^ Victor Hugo, tome 1: Je suis une force qui va by Max Gallo, pub. Broché (2001)
  2. ^ On the role of E. de Jouy against V.Hugo, see Les aventures militaires, littéraires et autres de Etienne de Jouy de l'Académie française by Michel Faul (Editions Seguier, France, 2009 ISBN 978-2-8404-9556-7)
  3. ^ Victor Hugo, l'homme océan
  4. ^ “Hugo à l'Opéra”, ed. Arnaud Laster, L'Avant-Scène Opéra, no. 208 (2002).
  5. ^ Cette page utilise des cadres
  6. ^ 23 juillet - Festival Radio France et Montpellier Languedoc Roussillon - classique - concert - opéra La Esmeralda Louise Bertin - direction Lawrence Foster - Orchestre Nationa...
  7. ^ “Hugo et la musique” in Pleins feux sur Victor Hugo, Arnaud Laster, Comédie-Française (1981)
  8. ^ Festival Victor Hugo & Egaux 2008
  9. ^ "Caodaism : A Vietnamese centred religion". http://www.religioustolerance.org/caodaism.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  10. ^ Victor@Teyon'sHugoDeli.com

Online references

  • Afran, Charles (1997). “Victor Hugo: French Dramatist”. Website: Discover France. (Originally published in Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1997, v.9.0.1.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Bates, Alfred (1906). “Victor Hugo”. Website: Theatre History. (Originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 9. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 11–13.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Bates, Alfred (1906). “Hernani”. Website: Theatre History. (Originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 9. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 20–23.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Bates, Alfred (1906). “Hugo’s Cromwell”. Website: Theatre History. (Originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 9. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 18–19.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Bittleston, Misha (uncited date). "Drawings of Victor Hugo". Website: Misha Bittleston. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Burnham, I.G. (1896). “Amy Robsart”. Website: Theatre History. (Originally published in Victor Hugo: Dramas. Philadelphia: The Rittenhouse Press, 1896. pp. 203–6, 401-2.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2001-05). “Hugo, Victor Marie, Vicomte”. Website: Bartleby, Great Books Online. Retrieved November 2005. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Haine, W. Scott (1997). “Victor Hugo”. Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. Website: Ohio University. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Illi, Peter (2001-2004). “Victor Hugo: Plays”. Website: The Victor Hugo Website. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Karlins, N.F. (1998). "Octopus With the Initials V.H." Website: ArtNet. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Liukkonen, Petri (2000). “Victor Hugo (1802-1885)”. Books and Writers. Website: Pegasos: A Literature Related Resource Site. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Meyer, Ronald Bruce (2004). “Victor Hugo”. Website: Ronald Bruce Meyer. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Robb, Graham (1997). “A Sabre in the Night”. Website: New York Times (Books). (Excerpt from Graham, Robb (1997). Victor Hugo: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Roche, Isabel (2005). “Victor Hugo: Biography”. Meet the Writers. Website: Barnes & Noble. (From the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 2005.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Uncited Author. “Victor Hugo”. Website: Spartacus Educational. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Uncited Author. “Timeline of Victor Hugo”. Website: BBC. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Uncited Author. (2000-2005). “Victor Hugo”. Website: The Literature Network. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Uncited Author. "Hugo Caricature". Website: Présence de la Littérature a l’école. Retrieved November 2005.

Further reading

  • Barbou, Alfred (1882). Victor Hugo and His Times. University Press of the Pacific: 2001 paper back edition. Book sources
  • Barnett, Marva A., ed. (2009). Victor Hugo on Things That Matter: A Reader. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Book sources
  • Brombert, Victor H. (1984). Victor Hugo and the Visionary Novel. Boston: Harvard University Press. Book sources
  • Davidson, A.F. (1912). Victor Hugo: His Life and Work. University Press of the Pacific: 2003 paperback edition. Book sources
  • Dow, Leslie Smith (1993). Adele Hugo: La Miserable. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions. Book sources
  • Falkayn, David (2001). Guide to the Life, Times, and Works of Victor Hugo. University Press of the Pacific. Book sources
  • Feller, Martin, Der Dichter in der Politik. Victor Hugo und der deutsch-französische Krieg von 1870/71. Untersuchungen zum französischen Deutschlandbild und zu Hugos Rezeption in Deutschland. Doctoral Dissertation, Marburg 1988.
  • Frey, John Andrew (1999). A Victor Hugo Encyclopedia. Greenwood Press. Book sources
  • Grant, Elliot (1946). The Career of Victor Hugo. Harvard University Press. Out of print.
  • Halsall, A.W. et al. (1998). Victor Hugo and the Romantic Drama. University of Toronto Press.Book sources
  • Hart, Simon Allen (2004). Lady in the Shadows: The Life and Times of Julie Drouet, Mistress, Companion and Muse to Victor Hugo. Publish American. Book sources
  • Houston, John Porter (1975). Victor Hugo. New York: Twayne Publishers. Book sources
  • Hovasse, Jean-Marc (2001), Victor Hugo: Avant l'exil. Paris: Fayard. Book sources
  • Hovasse, Jean-Marc (2008), Victor Hugo: Pendant l'exil I. Paris: Fayard. Book sources
  • Ireson, J.C. (1997). Victor Hugo: A Companion to His Poetry. Clarendon Press. Book sources
  • Laster, Arnaud (2002). Hugo à l'Opéra. Paris: L'Avant-Scène Opéra, no. 208.
  • Maurois, Andre (1956). Olympio: The Life of Victor Hugo. New York: Harper & Brothers.
  • Maurois, Andre (1966). Victor Hugo and His World. London: Thames and Hudson. Out of print.
  • Pouchain, Gérard and Robert Sabourin (1992). Juliette Drouet, ou, La dépaysée. Paris: Fayard. Book sources
  • Robb, Graham (1997). Victor Hugo: A Biography. W.W. Norton & Company: 1999 paperback edition. Book sources, (description/reviews at wwnorton.com)
  • Tonazzi, Pascal (2007) Florilège de Notre-Dame de Paris (anthologie) Paris, Editions Arléa ISBN 2869597959

External links

Preceded by
Népomucène Lemercier
Seat 14
Académie française

1841–1885
Succeeded by
Charles Leconte de Lisle


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.

Victor Marie Hugo (1802-02-261885-05-22) is recognized as the most influential French Romantic writer of the 19th century and is often identified as the greatest French poet.

See also: Les Misérables

Contents

Sourced

To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better.
  • I will be Chateaubriand or nothing.
    • Written the age of 15 in one of his notebooks (c. 1817), as quoted in The Literary Movement in France During the Nineteenth Century (1897) by Georges Pellissier
  • Ces deux moitiés de Dieu, le pape et l'empereur!
    • These two halves of God, the Pope and the emperor.
  • Dieu s'est fait homme; soit. Le diable s'est fait femme!
    • God became a man, granted. The devil became a woman.
  • Vous avez des ennemis? Mais c'est l'histoire de tout homme qui a fait une action grande ou crée une idée neuve. C'est la nuée qui bruit autour de tout ce qui brille. Il faut que la renommé ait des ennemis comme il faut que la lumière ait des moucherons. Ne vous en inquiétez pas, dédaignez! Ayez la sérénité dans votre esprit comme vous avez la limpidité dans votre vie.
    • You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do no bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.
      • Villemain (1845)
  • Vous tenez à l’exemple [de la peine de mort]. Pourquoi? Pour ce qu’il enseigne. Que voulez-vous enseigner avec votre exemple? Qu’il ne faut pas tuer. Et comment enseignez-vous qu’il ne faut pas tuer? En tuant.
    • You insist on the example [of the death penalty]. Why? For what it teaches. What do you want to teach with your example? That thou shalt not kill. And how do you teach thou shalt not kill? By killing.
  • Un jour viendra où il n'y aura plus d'autres champs de bataille que les marchés s'ouvrant au commerce et les esprits s'ouvrant aux idées. Un jour viendra où les boulets et les bombes seront remplacés par les votes, par le suffrage universel des peuples, par le vénérable arbitrage d'un grand sénat souverain qui sera à l'Europe ce que le parlement est à l'Angleterre, ce que la diète est à l'Allemagne, ce que l'assemblée législative est à la France! Un jour viendra où l'on montrera un canon dans les musées comme on y montre aujourd'hui un instrument de torture, en s'étonnant que cela ait pu être! Un jour viendra où l'on verra ces deux groupes immenses, les États-Unis d'Amérique, les États-Unis d'Europe, placés en face l'un de l'autre, se tendant la main par-dessus les mers, échangeant leurs produits, leur commerce, leur industrie, leurs arts, leurs génies, défrichant le globe, colonisant les déserts, améliorant la création sous le regard du créateur, et combinant ensemble, pour en tirer le bien-être de tous, ces deux forces infinies, la fraternité des hommes et la puissance de Dieu!
    • A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas. A day will come when the bullets and bombs are replaced by votes, by universal suffrage, by the venerable arbitration of a great supreme senate which will be to Europe what Parliament is to England, the Diet to Germany, and the Legislative Assembly to France.

      A day will come when a cannon will be a museum-piece, as instruments of torture are today. And we will be amazed to think that these things once existed!

      A day will come when we shall see those two immense groups, the United States of America and the United States of Europe, facing one another, stretching out their hands across the sea, exchanging their products, their arts, their works of genius, clearing up the globe, making deserts fruitful, ameliorating creation under the eyes of the Creator, and joining together, to reap the well-being of all, these two infinite forces, the fraternity of men and the power of God.

  • Je n'entre qu'à moitié dans la guerre civile. Je veux bien y mourir, je ne veux pas y tuer.
    • I only take a half share in the civil war; I am willing to die, I am not willing to kill.
      • Histoire d'un crime (The History of a Crime) [written 1852, published 1877], Quatrième journée. La victoire, ch. II: Les Faits de la nuit. Quartier des Halles. Trans. T.H. Joyce and Arthur Locker [3]
  • On résiste à l'invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l'invasion des idées.
    • Literal translations: 1) One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas. 2) One withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas.
      • Histoire d'un Crime (The History of a Crime) [written 1852, published 1877], Conclusion, ch. X. Trans. T.H. Joyce and Arthur Locker [4]
    • Alternative translations and paraphrased variants:
      • One cannot resist an idea whose time has come.
      • No one can resist an idea whose time has come.
      • Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.
      • Armies cannot stop an idea whose time has come.
      • No army can stop an idea whose time has come.
      • Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.
      • There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.
  • Waterloo! Waterloo! Waterloo! Morne plaine!
  • L'œil était dans la tombe et regardait Caïn.
    • The eye was in the tomb and stared at Cain.
      • La Conscience, from La Légende des siècles (1859), First Series, Part I
  • Mettre tout en équilibre, c'est bien; mettre tout en harmonie, c'est mieux.
    • To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better.
  • Jésus a pleuré, Voltaire a souri; c’est de cette larme divine et de ce sourire humain qu’est faite la douceur de la civilisation actuelle.
    • Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. Of that divine tear and that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilization.
      • Speech, "Le centenaire de Voltaire", on the 100th anniversary of the death of Voltaire, Théâtre de la Gaîté, Paris (1878-05-30); published in Actes et paroles - Depuis l'exil (1878)
  • C'est ici le combat du jour ou de la nuit... Je vois de la lumière noire.
    • This is the battle between day and night... I see black light.
  • There shall be no slavery of the mind.
    • Quoted by Courtlandt Palmer, president of the Nineteenth Century Club of New York, while introducing Robert G. Ingersoll as a speaker in a debate, "The Limitations of Toleration," at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York City (1888-05-08); from The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll (Dresden Publishing Company, 1902), vol. VII, p. 217
  • Lever à six, coucher à dix,
    Dîner à dix, souper à six,
    Font vivre l'homme dix fois dix.
    • To rise at six, to sleep at ten,
      To sup at six, to dine at ten,
      Make a man live for ten times ten.
      • Inscription in Hugo's dining room, quoted in Gustave Larroumet, La maison de Victor Hugo: Impressions de Guernesey (1895), Chapter III
  • Ce besoin de l’immatériel est le plus vivace de tous. Il faut du pain; mais avant le pain, il faut l’idéal.
    • The need of the immaterial is the most deeply rooted of all needs. One must have bread; but before bread, one must have the ideal.
      • "Les fleurs," (ca. 1860 - 1865), from Oeuvres complètes (1909); published in English as The Memoirs of Victor Hugo, trans. John W. Harding (1899), Chapter VI: Love in Prison, part II
  • Je représente un parti qui n'existe pas encore, le parti Révolution-Civilisation. Ce parti fera le vingtième siècle. Il en sortira d'abord les États-Unis d'Europe, puis les États-Unis du Monde.
    • I represent a party which does not yet exist: the party of revolution, civilization. This party will make the twentieth century. There will issue from it first the United States of Europe, then the United States of the World.
      • Océan - Tas de pierres (1942)

Letter To M. Daelli on Les Misérables (1862)

Publisher of the Italian translation of Les Misérables (1862-10-18)
  • Vous avez raison, monsieur, quand vous me dites que le livre les Misérables est écrit pour tous les peuples. Je ne sais s'il sera lu par tous, mais je l'ai écrit pour tous. Il s'adresse à l'Angleterre autant qu'à l'Espagne, à l'Italie autant qu'à la France, à l'Allemagne autant qu'à l'Irlande, aux républiques qui ont des esclaves aussi bien qu'aux empires qui ont des serfs. Les problèmes sociaux dépassent les frontières. Les plaies du genre humain, ces larges plaies qui couvrent le globe, ne s'arrêtent point aux lignes bleues ou rouges tracées sur la mappemonde. Partout où l'homme ignore et désespère, partout où la femme se vend pour du pain, partout où l'enfant souffre faute d'un livre qui l'enseigne et d'un foyer qui le réchauffe, le livre les Misérables frappe à la porte et dit: Ouvrez-moi, je viens pour vous.
    • You are right, sir, when you tell me that Les Misérables is written for all nations. I do not know whether it will be read by all, but I wrote it for all. It is addressed to England as well as to Spain, to Italy as well as to France, to Germany as well as to Ireland, to Republics which have slaves as well as to Empires which have serfs. Social problems overstep frontiers. The sores of the human race, those great sores which cover the globe, do not halt at the red or blue lines traced upon the map. In every place where man is ignorant and despairing, in every place where woman is sold for bread, wherever the child suffers for lack of the book which should instruct him and of the hearth which should warm him, the book of Les Misérables knocks at the door and says: "Open to me, I come for you."
  • À l'heure, si sombre encore, de la civilisation où nous sommes, le misérable s'appelle L'HOMME; il agonise sous tous les climats, et il gémit dans toutes les langues.
    • At the hour of civilization through which we are now passing, and which is still so sombre, the miserable's name is Man; he is agonizing in all climes, and he is groaning in all languages.
  • Du fond de l'ombre où nous sommes et où vous êtes, vous ne voyez pas beaucoup plus distinctement que nous les radieuses et lointaines portes de l'éden. Seulement les prêtres se trompent. Ces portes saintes ne sont pas derrière nous, mais devant nous.
    • From the depths of the gloom wherein you dwell, you do not see much more distinctly than we the radiant and distant portals of Eden. Only, the priests are mistaken. These holy portals are before and not behind us.
  • Ce livre, les Misérables, n'est pas moins que votre miroir que le nôtre. Certains hommes, certaines castes, se révoltent contre ce livre, je le comprends. Les miroirs, ces diseurs de vérité, sont haïs; cela ne les empêche pas d'être utiles.

    Quant à moi, j'ai écrit pour tous, avec un profond amour pour mon pays, mais sans me préoccuper de la France plus que d'un autre peuple. A mesure que j'avance dans la vie je me simplifie, et je deviens de plus en plus patriote de l'humanité.

    • This book, Les Misérables, is no less your mirror than ours. Certain men, certain castes, rise in revolt against this book, — I understand that. Mirrors, those revealers of the truth, are hated; that does not prevent them from being of use. As for myself, I have written for all, with a profound love for my own country, but without being engrossed by France more than by any other nation. In proportion as I advance in life, I grow more simple, and I become more and more patriotic for humanity.
  • En somme, je fais ce que je peux, je souffre de la souffrance universelle, et je tâche de la soulager, je n'ai que les chétives forces d'un homme, et je crie à tous: aidez-moi.
    • In short, I am doing what I can, I suffer with the same universal suffering, and I try to assuage it, I possess only the puny forces of a man, and I cry to all: "Help me!"
  • Italiens ou français, la misère nous regarde tous. Depuis que l'histoire écrit et que la philosophie médite, la misère est le vêtement du genre humain; le moment serait enfin venu d'arracher cette guenille, et de remplacer, sur les membres nus de l'Homme-Peuple, la loque sinistre du passé par la grande robe pourpre de l'aurore.
    • Whether we be Italians or Frenchmen, misery concerns us all. Ever since history has been written, ever since philosophy has meditated, misery has been the garment of the human race; the moment has at length arrived for tearing off that rag, and for replacing, upon the naked limbs of the Man-People, the sinister fragment of the past with the grand purple robe of the dawn.

William Shakespeare (1864)

  • Dieu se manifeste à nous au premier degré à travers la vie de l’univers, et au deuxième degré à travers la pensée de l’homme. La deuxième manifestation n’est pas moins sacrée que la première. La première s’appelle la Nature, la deuxième s’appelle l’Art.
    • God manifests himself to us in the first degree through the life of the universe, and in the second degree through the thought of man. The second manifestation is not less holy than the first. The first is named Nature, the second is named Art.
      • Part I, Book II, Chapter I [6]
  • Homère est un des génies qui résolvent ce beau problème de l’art, le plus beau de tous peut-être, la peinture vraie de l’humanité obtenue par le grandissement de l’homme, c’est-à-dire la génération du réel dans l’idéal.
    • Homer is one of the men of genius who solve that fine problem of art — the finest of all, perhaps — truly to depict humanity by the enlargement of man: that is, to generate the real in the ideal.
      • Part I, Book II, Chapter II, Section I [7]
  • Que l'avenir soit un orient au lieu d'être un couchant, c'est la consolation de l'homme.
    • It is man's consolation that the future is to be a sunrise instead of a sunset.
      • Part I, Book II, Chapter II, Section V [8]
  • Ce qu’on ne peut dire et ce qu’on ne peut taire, la musique l’exprime.
    • Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
      • Part I, Book II, Chapter IV [9]

Disputed

  • He who is a legend in his own time is ruled by that legend. It may begin in absolute innocence, but, to cover up flaws and maintain the myth of Divine Power, one must employ desperate measures.
    • Attributed to Hugo in Old Gods Almost Dead : The 40-year Odyssey of the Rolling Stones (2001), by Stephen Davis, p. 557; but sourced to Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud in Jaco : The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius (2006) by Bill Milkowski, p. iii
  • I don't mind what Congress does, as long as they don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses.
    • Though research done for Wikiquote indicates that the attribution of this remark to Hugo seems extensive on the internet, no source has been identified. It seems to be a statement a modern satirist might make, derived from one made circa 1910 by Mrs Patrick Campbell regarding homosexuals: "Does it really matter what these affectionate people do — so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses?"
  • Et la marine va, papa, venir à Malte.
    • And the navy, Papa, will come to Malta.
      • Palindrome attributed to Hugo on the internet, but in no published sources yet found.

External links

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Simple English

Victor Hugo
File:Victor Hugo circa
Woodburytype of Victor Hugo by Étienne Carjat, circa 1880
Born 14 February 1802
Besançon, France
Died 22 May 1885 (aged 83)
Paris, France
Occupation poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights campaigner
Literary movement Romanticism
Signature File:Victor Hugo

Victor-Marie Hugo (French pronunciation: [viktɔʁ maʁi yˈɡo]) (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist. He played an important part in the Romantic movement in France.

Hugo first became famous thanks to his poetry, but also his novels and his Plays. Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles are his most famous poetry collections. Hugo is sometimes thought to be the greatest French poet[needs proof]. In other countries, his novels Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English also as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) are his most famous works.[needs proof]

When he was young, he was a conservative royalist. As he got older he became more liberal and supported republicanism. His work was about a lot of the political and social problems as well as the artistic trends of his time. He is buried in the Panthéon, in Paris.

Contents

Life

Victor Hugo was the son of Joseph Léopold Sigisbert Hugo (1773–1828) and Sophie Trébuchet (1772-1821). He had two older brothers called Abel Joseph Hugo (1798–1855) and Eugène Hugo (1800–1837). He was born in 1802, in Besançon (in the Franche-Comté region). Hugo lived in France for most of his life. During the reign of Napoleon III he went into exile. In 1851, he lived in Belgium, in Brussels.He moved to Jersey in 1852. He stayed there until 1855 when he went to live in Guernsey until 1870. He lived there again in 1872-1873. From 1859, his exile was by choice.

Some great events marked Hugo's early childhood. A few years before his birth, the Bourbon Dynasty was overthrown during the French Revolution. The First Republic rose and fell and the First French Empire rose under Napoléon Bonaparte. Napoléon became Emperor two years after Hugo's birth. The Bourbon Monarchy was restored When he was 17. His parents had different political and religious views. These views would be the two main belligerents fighting for power in France. Hugo's father was an officer. He ranked very high in Napoleon's army. He was an atheist republican and considered Napoléon a hero. His mother was an extreme Catholic Royalist. As Hugo's father was an officer, they moved frequently. Victor Hugo learned much from these travels. He stayed in Naples and Rome for six months, before going back to Paris. He was only five at the time, but he remembered the trip well.

Sophie went to Italy with her husband who was a governor of a province near Naples. They also went to Spain where Joseph governed three Spanish provinces. Sophie separated temporarily from Léopold in 1803, as it was not an easy life. She settled in Paris. This meant she dominated Hugo's education. Therefore, Hugo's early work, mainly in poetry, show him praising Monarchism and Faith. The 1848 Revolution made Hugo rebel against his Catholic Royalist education. After that revolution, he prefered Republicanism and Freethought.

When he was young, Victor Hugo fell in love. He became secretly engaged to his childhood friend Adèle Foucher (1803-1868), against his mother's wishes.

He married Adèle in 1822, after his mother's death in 1821. Their first child Léopold (born in 1823) died in infancy. Hugo's had 4 other children called Léopoldine (28 August 1824), Charles (4 November 1826), François-Victor (28 October 1828) and Adèle (24 August 1830). Hugo published his first novel in 1823 (Han d'Islande). His second came three years later (Bug-Jargal, 1826). He published five more volumes of poetry (Les Orientales, 1829; Les Feuilles d'automne, 1831; Les Chants du crépuscule, 1835; Les Voix intérieures, 1837; and Les Rayons et les ombres, 1840) between 1829 and 1840. This helped his reputation. He was already considered one of the greatest elegiac and lyric poets of his time.

from the original edition of Notre Dame de Paris (1831)]]

The death of his oldest and favorite daughter, Léopoldine, made Hugo very sad. She died at the age of 19, in 1843. This was only shortly after her marriage. She drowned in the Seine at Villequier. She was pulled down by her heavy skirts, when a boat overturned. Her husband died as he tried to save her. At the time; Victor Hugo was traveling with his mistress in the south of France. He learned about Léopoldine's death from a newspaper when he was sitting in a cafe.[1] He describes his shock and grief in his poem À Villequier:

Hélas ! vers le passé tournant un oeil d'envie,
Sans que rien ici-bas puisse m'en consoler,
Je regarde toujours ce moment de ma vie
Où je l'ai vue ouvrir son aile et s'envoler !

Je verrai cet instant jusqu'à ce que je meure,
L'instant, pleurs superflus !
Où je criai : L'enfant que j'avais tout à l'heure,
Quoi donc ! je ne l'ai plus !

Alas! turning an envious eye towards the past,
unconsolable by anything on earth,
I keep looking at that moment of my life
when I saw her open her wings and fly away!

I will see that instant until I die,
that instant-- too much for tears!
when I cried out: "The child that I had just now--
what! I don't have her any more!"

After, he wrote many poems about his daughter's life and death. One of his most famous poem is probably Demain, dès l'aube. In this poem, he describes visiting her grave.

Writings

Hugo was very influenced by François-René de Chateaubriand, the famous Romantic writer, during the early 1800s. When Hugo was young, he said he would be “Chateaubriand or nothing”. Indeed, many things Chateaubriand did, Hugo also did. First he defended the cause of Romanticism. Then, he became involved in politics and supported RepublicanismFinally, he was forced into exile because of his political views. Hugo's passion and eloquence in his early work made him successful and famous at an early age. His first collection of poetry (Odes et poésies diverses) was published in 1822. At the time, Hugo was only twenty years old. It earned him a royal pension (money from the king) from Louis XVIII. His poems were admired but it was his next collection, four years later in 1826 (Odes et Ballades) which revealed Hugo to be a great poet.

Victor Hugo's first mature work of fiction appeared in 1829, and reflected the acute social conscience that would infuse his later work. Le Dernier jour d'un condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man) would have a profound influence on later writers such as Albert Camus, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Claude Gueux, a documentary short story about a real-life murderer who had been executed in France, appeared in 1834, and was later considered by Hugo himself to be a precursor to his great work on social injustice, Les Misérables. But Hugo’s first full-length novel[needs proof] would be the enormously successful Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), which was published in 1831 and quickly translated into other languages across Europe. One of the effects of the novel was to shame the City of Paris into restoring the much-neglected Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was attracting thousands of tourists who had read the popular novel. The book also inspired a renewed appreciation for pre-renaissance buildings, which thereafter began to be actively preserved. , from the original edition of Les Misérables (1862)]]

Hugo began planning a major novel about social misery and injustice as early as the 1830s, but it would take a full 17 years for Les Misérables, to be realized and finally published in 1862. The author was acutely aware of the quality of the novel and publication of the work went to the highest bidder. The Belgian publishing house Lacroix and Verboeckhoven undertook a marketing campaign unusual for the time, issuing press releases about the work a full six months before the launch. It also initially published only the first part of the novel (“Fantine”), which was launched simultaneously in major cities. Installments of the book sold out within hours, and had enormous impact on French society. The critical establishment was generally hostile to the novel; Taine found it insincere, Barbey d'Aurevilly complained of its vulgarity, Flaubert found within it "neither truth nor greatness," the Goncourts lambasted its artificiality, and Baudelaire - despite giving favorable reviews in newspapers - castigated it in private as "tasteless and inept." Les Misérables proved popular enough with the masses that the issues it highlighted were soon on the agenda of the French National Assembly. Today the novel remains his most enduringly popular work. It is popular worldwide, has been adapted for cinema, television and stage shows.

The shortest correspondence in history is between Hugo and his publisher Hurst & Blackett in 1862. It is said Hugo was on vacation when Les Misérables (which is over 1200 pages) was published. He telegraphed the single-character message '?' to his publisher, who replied with a single '!'.[needs proof]

Hugo turned away from social/political issues in his next novel, Les Travailleurs de la Mer (Toilers of the Sea), published in 1866. Nonetheless, the book was well received, perhaps due to the previous success of Les Misérables. Dedicated to the channel island of Guernsey where he spent 15 years of exile, Hugo’s depiction of Man’s battle with the sea and the horrible creatures lurking beneath its depths spawned an unusual fad in Paris: Squids. From squid dishes and exhibitions, to squid hats and parties, Parisians became fascinated by these unusual sea creatures, which at the time were still considered by many to be mythical.[needs proof] The word used in Guernsey to refer to squid (pieuvre, also sometimes applied to octopus) was to enter the French language as a result of its use in the book. Hugo returned to political and social issues in his next novel, L'Homme Qui Rit (The Man Who Laughs), which was published in 1869 and painted a critical picture of the aristocracy. However, the novel was not as successful as his previous efforts, and Hugo himself began to comment on the growing distance between himself and literary contemporaries such as Flaubert and Émile Zola, whose realist and naturalist novels were now exceeding the popularity of his own work. His last novel, Quatre-vingt-treize (Ninety-Three), published in 1874, dealt with a subject that Hugo had previously avoided: the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Though Hugo’s popularity was on the decline at the time of its publication, many now consider Ninety-Three to be a work on par with Hugo’s better-known novels.Template:Weasel-inline

Political life and exile

After three unsuccessful attempts, Hugo was finally elected to the Académie française in 1841, solidifying his position in the world of French arts and letters. A group of French academiciens, particularly Etienne de Jouy, were fighting against the "romantic evolution" and had managed to delay Victor Hugo's election [2]. Thereafter he became increasingly involved in French politics. He was elevated to the peerage by King Louis-Philippe in 1841 and entered the Higher Chamber as a pair de France, where he spoke against the death penalty and social injustice, and in favour of freedom of the press and self-government for Poland. However, he was also becoming more supportive of the Republican form of government and, following the 1848 Revolution and the formation of the Second Republic, was elected to the Constitutional Assembly and the Legislative Assembly. (1853-55)]]

When Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) seized complete power in 1851, establishing an anti-parliamentary constitution, Hugo openly declared him a traitor to France. He relocated to Brussels, then Jersey, and finally settled with his family on the channel island of Guernsey at Hauteville House, where he would live in exile until 1870.

While in exile, Hugo published his famous political pamphlets against Napoleon III, Napoléon le Petit and Histoire d'un crime. The pamphlets were banned in France, but nonetheless had a strong impact there. He also composed or published some of his best work during his period in Guernsey, including Les Misérables, and three widely praised collections of poetry (Les Châtiments, 1853; Les Contemplations, 1856; and La Légende des siècles, 1859).

He convinced the government of Queen Victoria to spare the lives of six Irish people convicted of terrorist activities and his influence was credited in the removal of the death penalty from the constitutions of Geneva, Portugal and Colombia.[3] He had also pleaded for Benito Juarez to spare the recently captured emperor Maximilian I of Mexico but to no avail.

Although Napoleon III granted an amnesty to all political exiles in 1859, Hugo declined, as it meant he would have to curtail his criticisms of the government. It was only after Napoleon III fell from power and the Third Republic was proclaimed that Hugo finally returned to his homeland in 1870, where he was promptly elected to the National Assembly and the Senate.

He was in Paris during the siege by the Prussian army in 1870, famously eating animals given to him by the Paris zoo. As the siege continued, and food became ever more scarce, he wrote in his diary that he was reduced to "eating the unknown."

Because of his concern for the rights of artists and copyright, he was a founding member of the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale, which led to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

Religious views

Hugo's religious views changed radically over the course of his life. In his youth, he identified himself as a Catholic and professed respect for Church hierarchy and authority. From there he became a non-practicing Catholic, and increasingly expressed anti-catholic and anti-clerical views. He dabbled in Spiritualism during his exile (where he participated also in seances), and in later years settled into a Rationalist Deism similar to that espoused by Voltaire. A census-taker asked Hugo in 1872 if he was a Catholic, and he replied, "No. A Freethinker".

Hugo never lost his antipathy towards the Roman Catholic Church, due largely to what he saw as the Church's indifference to the plight of the working class under the oppression of the monarchy; and perhaps also due to the frequency with which Hugo's work appeared on the Pope's list of "proscribed books" (Hugo counted 740 attacks on Les Misérables in the Catholic press). On the deaths of his sons Charles and François-Victor, he insisted that they be buried without crucifix or priest, and in his will made the same stipulation about his own death and funeral. However, although Hugo believed Catholic dogma to be outdated and dying, he never directly attacked the institution itself.

Hugo's Rationalism can be found in poems such as Torquemada (1869, about religious fanaticism), The Pope (1878, anti-clerical), Religions and Religion (1880, denying the usefulness of churches) and, published posthumously, The End of Satan and God (1886 and 1891 respectively, in which he represents Christianity as a griffin and Rationalism as an angel). "Religions pass away, but God remains", Hugo declared. Christianity would eventually disappear, he predicted, but people would still believe in "God, Soul, and the Power."[needs proof]

Victor Hugo and music

File:Victor
Photogravure of Victor Hugo, 1883

Although Hugo's many talents did not include exceptional musical ability, he nevertheless had a great impact on the music world through the endless inspiration that his works provided for composers of the 19th and 20th century. Hugo himself particularly enjoyed the music of Gluck and Weber and greatly admired Beethoven, and rather unusually for his time, he also appreciated works by composers from earlier centuries such as Palestrina and Monteverdi. Two famous musicians of the 19th century were friends of Hugo: Berlioz and Liszt. The latter played Beethoven in Hugo’s home, and Hugo joked in a letter to a friend that thanks to Liszt’s piano lessons, he learned how to play a favourite song on the piano – even though only with one finger! Hugo also worked with composer Louise Bertin, writing the libretto for her 1836 opera La Esmeralda which was based on the character in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.[4] Although for various reasons the opera closed soon after its fifth performance and is little known today, it has been recently enjoying a revival, both in a piano/song concert version by Liszt at the Festival international Victor Hugo et Égaux 2007[5] and in a full orchestral version to be presented in July 2008 at Le Festival de Radio France et Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon.[6]

Well over one thousand musical compositions have been inspired by Hugo’s works from the 1800s until the present day. In particular, Hugo’s plays, in which he rejected the rules of classical theatre in favour of romantic drama, attracted the interest of many composers who adapted them into operas. More than one hundred operas are based on Hugo’s works and among them are Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia (1833), Verdi’s Rigoletto (1851) and Ernani (1844), and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (1876). Hugo’s novels as well as his plays have been a great source of inspiration for musicians, stirring them to create not only opera and ballet but musical theatre such as Notre-Dame de Paris and the ever-popular Les Misérables, London West End’s longest running musical. Additionally, Hugo’s beautiful poems have attracted an exceptional amount of interest from musicians, and numerous melodies have been based on his poetry by composers such as Berlioz, Bizet, Fauré, Franck, Lalo, Liszt, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninov and Wagner.[7]

Today, Hugo’s work continues to stimulate musicians to create new compositions. For example, Hugo’s novel against capital punishment, The Last Day of a Condemned Man, has recently been adapted into an opera by David Alagna (libretto by Frédérico Alagna). Their brother, tenor Roberto Alagna, performed in the opera’s premiere in Paris in the summer of 2007 and again in February 2008 in Valencia with Erwin Schrott as part of the Festival international Victor Hugo et Égaux 2008.[8] In Guernsey, every two years the Victor Hugo International Music Festival attracts a wide range of musicians and the premiere of songs specially commissioned from Guillaume Connesson and based on Hugo’s poetry.

Declining years and death

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When Hugo returned to Paris in 1870, the country hailed him as a national hero. Despite his popularity Hugo lost his bid for reelection to the National Assembly in 1872. Within a brief period, he suffered a mild stroke, his daughter Adèle’s internment in an insane asylum, and the death of his two sons. (Adèle's biography inspired the movie The Story of Adele H.) His wife Adèle had died in 1868. His faithful mistress, Juliette Drouet, died in 1883, only two years before his own death. Despite his personal loss, Hugo remained committed to the cause of political change. On 30 January 1876 Hugo was elected to the newly created Senate. The last phase of his political career is considered a failure. Hugo took on the role of a maverick and got little done in the Senate.

In February 1881 Hugo celebrated his 79th birthday. To honor the fact that he was entering his eightieth year, one of the greatest tributes to a living writer was held. The celebrations began on the 25th when Hugo was presented with a Sèvres vase, the traditional gift for sovereigns. On the 27th one of the largest parades in French history was held. Marchers stretched from Avenue d'Eylau, down the Champs-Élysées, and all the way to the center of Paris. The paraders marched for six hours to pass Hugo as he sat in the window at his house. Every inch and detail of the event was for Hugo; the official guides even wore cornflowers as an allusion to Cosette's song in Les Misérables.

Victor Hugo's death on 22 May 1885, at the age of 83, generated intense national mourning. He was not only revered as a towering figure in literature, he was a statesman who shaped the Third Republic and democracy in France. More than two million people joined his funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon, where he was buried. He shares a crypt within the Panthéon with Alexandre Dumas and Émile Zola. Most large French towns and cities have a street named for him. The avenue where he died, in Paris, now bears his name.

Drawings

Many are not aware that Hugo was almost as prolific in the visual arts as he was in literature, producing more than 4,000 drawings in his lifetime. Originally pursued as a casual hobby, drawing became more important to Hugo shortly before his exile, when he made the decision to stop writing in order to devote himself to politics. Drawing became his exclusive creative outlet during the period 1848-1851.

Hugo worked only on paper, and on a small scale; usually in dark brown or black pen-and-ink wash, sometimes with touches of white, and rarely with color. The surviving drawings are surprisingly accomplished and "modern" in their style and execution, foreshadowing the experimental techniques of Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.

He would not hesitate to use his children's stencils, ink blots, puddles and stains, lace impressions, "pliage" or folding (i.e. Rorschach blots), "grattage" or rubbing, often using the charcoal from match sticks or his fingers instead of pen or brush. Sometimes he would even toss in coffee or soot to get the effects he wanted. It is reported that Hugo often drew with his left hand or without looking at the page, or during Spiritualist séances, in order to access his unconscious mind, a concept only later popularized by Sigmund Freud.

Hugo kept his artwork out of the public eye, fearing it would overshadow his literary work. However, he enjoyed sharing his drawings with his family and friends, often in the form of ornately handmade calling cards, many of which were given as gifts to visitors when he was in political exile. Some of his work was shown to, and appreciated by, contemporary artists such as Van Gogh and Delacroix; the latter expressed the opinion that if Hugo had decided to become a painter instead of a writer, he would have outshone the artists of their century.

Gallery:

Memorials

The people of Guernsey erected a statue in Candie Gardens (St. Peter Port) to commemorate his stay in the islands. The City of Paris has preserved his residences Hauteville House, Guernsey and 6, Place des Vosges, Paris as museums. The house where he stayed in Vianden, Luxembourg, in 1871 has also become a commemorative museum.

Hugo is venerated as a saint in the Vietnamese religion of Cao Dai.[1]

The Avenue Victor-Hugo in the XVIème arrondissement of Paris bears Hugo's name, and links the Place de l'Étoile to the vicinity of the Bois de Boulogne by way of the Place Victor-Hugo. This square is served by a Paris Métro stop also named in his honor. A number of streets and avenues throughout France are likewise named after him. The school Lycée Victor Hugo was founded in his town of birth, Besançon in France. Avenue Victor-Hugo, located in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada, was named to honor him.

In the city of Avellino, Italy, Victor Hugo lived briefly stayed in what is now known as Il Palazzo Culturale, when reuniting with his father, Leopold Sigisbert Hugo, in 1808. Victor would later write about his brief stay here quoting "C’était un palais de marbre...". In the city of Edinburgh, Scotland there is a delicatessen named Victor Hugo Delicatessen, it was originally run by a French couple but was purchased in 2005. The shop is on Melville Terrace, over looking the meadows and next to University of Edinburgh halls of residence, Sciennes.[2]

Works

Template:French literature (small)

Published during Hugo's lifetime

  • Odes et poésies diverses (1822)
  • Odes (Hugo) (1823)
  • Han d'Islande (1823) (Hans of Iceland)
  • Nouvelles Odes (1824)
  • Bug-Jargal (1826)
  • Nils Gunnar Lie's history (1826)
  • Odes et Ballades (1826)
  • Cromwell (1827)
  • Les Orientales (1829)
  • Le Dernier jour d'un condamné (1829) (The Last Day of a Condemned Man)
  • Hernani (1830)
  • Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
  • Marion Delorme (1831)
  • Les Feuilles d'automne (1831)
  • Le roi s'amuse (1832)
  • Lucrèce Borgia (1833) (Lucretia Borgia)
  • Marie Tudor (1833)
  • Littérature et philosophie mêlées (1834)
  • Claude Gueux (1834)
  • Angelo, tyran de padoue (1835)
  • Les Chants du crépuscule (1835)
  • La Esmeralda (only libretto of an opera written by Victor Hugo himself) (1836)
  • Les Voix intérieures (1837)
  • Ruy Blas (1838)
  • Les Rayons et les ombres (1840)
  • Le Rhin (1842)
  • Les Burgraves (1843)
  • Napoléon le Petit (1852)
  • Les Châtiments (1853)
  • Les Contemplations (1856)
  • Les TRYNE (1856)
  • La Légende des siècles (1859)
  • Les Misérables (1862)
  • William Shakespeare (1864)
  • Les Chansons des rues et des bois (1865)
  • Les Travailleurs de la Mer (1866), (Toilers of the Sea)
  • La voix de Guernsey (1867)
  • L'Homme qui rit (1869), (The Man Who Laughs)
  • L'Année terrible (1872)
  • Quatrevingt-treize (Ninety-Three) (1874)
  • Mes Fils (1874)
  • Actes et paroles — Avant l'exil (1875)
  • Actes et paroles - Pendant l'exil (1875)
  • Actes et paroles - Depuis l'exil (1876)
  • La Légende des Siècles 2e série (1877)
  • L'Art d'être grand-père (1877)
  • Histoire d'un crime 1re partie (1877)
  • Histoire d'un crime 2e partie (1878)
  • Le Pape (1878)
  • La pitié suprême (1879)
  • Religions et religion (1880)
  • L'Âne (1880)
  • Les Quatres vents de l'esprit (1881)
  • Torquemada (1882)
  • La Légende des siècles Tome III (1883)
  • L'Archipel de la Manche (1883)

Poems of Victor Hugo

Published posthumously

  • Théâtre en liberté (1886)
  • La fin de Satan (1886)
  • Choses vues (1887)
  • Toute la lyre (1888)
  • Amy Robsart (1889)
  • Les Jumeaux (1889)
  • Actes et Paroles Depuis l'exil, 1876-1885 (1889)
  • Alpes et Pyrénées (1890)
  • Dieu (1891)
  • France et Belgique (1892)
  • Toute la lyre - dernière série (1893)
  • Les fromages (1895)
  • Correspondences - Tome I (1896)
  • Correspondences - Tome II (1898)
  • Les années funestes (1898)
  • Choses vues - nouvelle série (1900)
  • Post-scriptum de ma vie (1901)
  • Dernière Gerbe (1902)
  • Mille francs de récompense (1934)
  • Océan. Tas de pierres (1942)
  • L'Intervention (1951)
  • Conversations with Eternity

Online texts

References

Online references

  • Afran, Charles (1997). “Victor Hugo: French Dramatist”. Website: Discover France. (Originally published in Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1997, v.9.0.1.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Bates, Alfred (1906). “Victor Hugo”. Website: Theatre History. (Originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 9. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 11–13.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Bates, Alfred (1906). “Hernani”. Website: Theatre History. (Originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 9. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 20–23.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Bates, Alfred (1906). “Hugo’s Cromwell”. Website: Theatre History. (Originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 9. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 18–19.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Bittleston, Misha (uncited date). "Drawings of Victor Hugo". Website: Misha Bittleston. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Burnham, I.G. (1896). “Amy Robsart”. Website: Theatre History. (Originally published in Victor Hugo: Dramas. Philadelphia: The Rittenhouse Press, 1896. pp. 203–6, 401-2.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2001-05). “Hugo, Victor Marie, Vicomte”. Website: Bartleby, Great Books Online. Retrieved November 2005. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Haine, W. Scott (1997). “Victor Hugo”. Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. Website: Ohio University. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Illi, Peter (2001-2004). “Victor Hugo: Plays”. Website: The Victor Hugo Website. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Karlins, N.F. (1998). "Octopus With the Initials V.H." Website: ArtNet. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Liukkonen, Petri (2000). “Victor Hugo (1802-1885)”. Books and Writers. Website: Pegasos: A Literature Related Resource Site. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Meyer, Ronald Bruce (2004). “Victor Hugo”. Website: Ronald Bruce Meyer. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Robb, Graham (1997). “A Sabre in the Night”. Website: New York Times (Books). (Excerpt from Graham, Robb (1997). Victor Hugo: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Roche, Isabel (2005). “Victor Hugo: Biography”. Meet the Writers. Website: Barnes & Noble. (From the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 2005.) Retrieved November 2005.
  • Uncited Author. “Victor Hugo”. Website: Spartacus Educational. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Uncited Author. “Timeline of Victor Hugo”. Website: BBC. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Uncited Author. (2000-2005). “Victor Hugo”. Website: The Literature Network. Retrieved November 2005.
  • Uncited Author. "Hugo Caricature". Website: Présence de la Littérature a l’école. Retrieved November 2005.

Further reading

  • Barbou, Alfred (1882). Victor Hugo and His Times. University Press of the Pacific: 2001 paper back edition. Book sources
  • Barnett, Marva A., ed. (2009). Victor Hugo on Things That Matter: A Reader. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Book sources
  • Brombert, Victor H. (1984). Victor Hugo and the Visionary Novel. Boston: Harvard University Press. Book sources
  • Davidson, A.F. (1912). Victor Hugo: His Life and Work. University Press of the Pacific: 2003 paperback edition. Book sources
  • Dow, Leslie Smith (1993). Adele Hugo: La Miserable. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions. Book sources
  • Falkayn, David (2001). Guide to the Life, Times, and Works of Victor Hugo. University Press of the Pacific. Book sources
  • Feller, Martin, Der Dichter in der Politik. Victor Hugo und der deutsch-französische Krieg von 1870/71. Untersuchungen zum französischen Deutschlandbild und zu Hugos Rezeption in Deutschland. Doctoral Dissertation, Marburg 1988.
  • Frey, John Andrew (1999). A Victor Hugo Encyclopedia. Greenwood Press. Book sources
  • Grant, Elliot (1946). The Career of Victor Hugo. Harvard University Press. Out of print.
  • Halsall, A.W. et al. (1998). Victor Hugo and the Romantic Drama. University of Toronto Press.Book sources
  • Hart, Simon Allen (2004). Lady in the Shadows: The Life and Times of Julie Drouet, Mistress, Companion and Muse to Victor Hugo. Publish American. Book sources
  • Houston, John Porter (1975). Victor Hugo. New York: Twayne Publishers. Book sources
  • Hovasse, Jean-Marc (2001), Victor Hugo: Avant l'exil. Paris: Fayard. Book sources
  • Hovasse, Jean-Marc (2008), Victor Hugo: Pendant l'exil I. Paris: Fayard. Book sources
  • Ireson, J.C. (1997). Victor Hugo: A Companion to His Poetry. Clarendon Press. Book sources
  • Laster, Arnaud (2002). Hugo à l'Opéra. Paris: L'Avant-Scène Opéra, no. 208.
  • Maurois, Andre (1956). Olympio: The Life of Victor Hugo. New York: Harper & Brothers.
  • Maurois, Andre (1966). Victor Hugo and His World. London: Thames and Hudson. Out of print.
  • Pouchain, Gérard and Robert Sabourin (1992). Juliette Drouet, ou, La dépaysée. Paris: Fayard. Book sources
  • Robb, Graham (1997). Victor Hugo: A Biography. W.W. Norton & Company: 1999 paperback edition. Book sources, (description/reviews at wwnorton.com)
  • Tonazzi, Pascal (2007) Florilège de Notre-Dame de Paris (anthologie) Paris, Editions Arléa ISBN 2869597959

Other websites

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Preceded by
Népomucène Lemercier
Seat 14
Académie française

1841–1885
Succeeded by
Charles Leconte de Lisle
Persondata
NAME Hugo, Victor-Marie
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Hugo, Victor
SHORT DESCRIPTION French poet, novelist, dramatist
DATE OF BIRTH 26 February 1804
PLACE OF BIRTH Besançon, France
DATE OF DEATH 22 May 1885
PLACE OF DEATH Paris, France


rue:Віктор Гюґо








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