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Balzac's extensive use of detail, especially the detail of objects, to illustrate the lives of his characters made him an early pioneer of literary realism.[72] While he admired and drew inspiration from the Romantic style of Scottish novelist Walter Scott, Balzac sought to depict human existence through the use of particulars.[73] In the preface to the first edition of Scènes de la Vie privéeHP HSTNN-1B1D Battery

he writes: "The author firmly believes that details alone will henceforth determine the merit of works…."[74] Plentiful descriptions of décor, clothing, and possessions help breathe life into the characters.[75] For example, Balzac's friend Hyacinthe de Latouche had knowledge of hanging wallpaper. Balzac transferred this to his descriptions of the Pension Vauquer in Le Père Goriot, making the wallpaper speak of the identities of those living inside.[76] HP HSTNN-OB89 Battery


Some critics consider Balzac's writing exemplary of naturalism – a more pessimistic and analytical form of realism, which seeks to explain human behavior as intrinsically linked with the environment. French novelist Émile Zola declared Balzac the father of the naturalist novel.[77] Zola indicated that, whereas Romantics saw the world through a colored lens, the naturalist sees through a clear glass – precisely the sort of effect Balzac attempted to achieve in his works.[78] HP HSTNN-W79C-7 Battery



Balzac sought to present his characters as real people, neither fully good nor fully evil, but fully human. "To arrive at the truth", he wrote in the preface to Le Lys dans la vallée, "writers use whatever literary device seems capable of giving the greatest intensity of life to their characters."[79] HP HSTNN-XB89 Battery

"Balzac's characters", Robb notes, "were as real to him as if he were observing them in the outside world."[80] This reality was noted by playwright Oscar Wilde, who said: "One of the greatest tragedies of my life is the death of [Illusions Perduesprotagonist] Lucien de Rubempré…. It haunts me in my moments of pleasure. I remember it when I laugh."[81] HP NBP8A157B1 Battery


At the same time, the characters represent a particular range of social types: the noble soldier, the scoundrel, the proud workman, the fearless spy, the alluring mistress.[82] That Balzac was able to balance the strength of the individual against the representation of the type is evidence of the author's skill. One critic explained that "there is a center and a circumference to Balzac's world."[83] HP NZ375AA Battery


Balzac's use of repeating characters, moving in and out of the Comédie's books, strengthens the realist representation. "When the characters reappear", notes Rogers, "they do not step out of nowhere; they emerge from the privacy of their own lives which, for an interval, HP HSTNN-1B52 Battery

we have not been allowed to see."[84] He also used a realist technique which French novelist Marcel Proust later named "retrospective illumination", whereby a character's past is revealed long after she or he first appears. HP HSTNN-1B89 Battery


A nearly infinite reserve of energy propels the characters in Balzac's novels. Struggling against the currents of human nature and society, they may lose more often than they win – but only rarely do they give up. This universal trait is a reflection of Balzac's own social wrangling, HP HSTNN-IB89 Battery

that of his family, and an interest in the Austrian mystic and physician Franz Mesmer, who pioneered the study of animal magnetism. Balzac spoke often of a "nervous and fluid force" between individuals, and Raphaël Valentin's decline in La Peau de Chagrinexemplifies the danger of withdrawing from the company of other people.[85] HP HSTNN-I62C-7 Battery



Representations of the city, countryside, and building interiors are essential to Balzac's realism, often serving to paint a naturalistic backdrop before which the characters' lives follow a particular course; this gave him a reputation as an early naturalist. HP HSTNN-I61C-5 Battery

Intricate details about locations sometimes stretch for fifteen or twenty pages.[86] As he did with the people around him, Balzac studied these places in depth, traveling to remote locations and surveying notes that he had made on previous visits.[87] HP HSTNN-I60C-5 Battery


The influence of Paris permeates La Comédie. Nature defers to the artificial metropolis, in contrast to the depictions of weather and wildlife in the countryside. "If in Paris", Rogers says, "we are in a man-made region where even the seasons are forgotten, HP 535753-001 Battery

these provincial towns are nearly always pictured in their natural setting."[88] Balzac said, "the streets of Paris possess human qualities and we cannot shake off the impressions they make upon our minds."[89] His labyrinthine city provided a literary model used later by English novelist Charles Dickens and Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky.[90] HP 516479-121 Battery

The centrality of Paris in La Comédie Humaine is key to Balzac's legacy as a realist. "Realism is nothing if not urban", notes critic Peter Brooks; the scene of a young man coming into the city to find his fortune is ubiquitous in the realist novel, and appears repeatedly in Balzac's works, such as Illusions Perdues.[91][92] HP HSTNN-DB94 Battery



Balzac's literary mood evolved over time from one of despondency and chagrin to one of solidarity and courage – but not optimism.[93] La Peau de Chagrin, among his earliest novels, is a pessimistic tale of confusion and destruction. HP HSTNN-IB93 Battery

But the cynicism declined as hisoeuvre progressed, and the characters of Illusions Perdues reveal sympathy for those who are pushed to one side by society. As part of the 19th-century evolution of the novel as a "democratic literary form", Balzac wrote that "les livres sont faits pour tout le monde,"("books are written for everybody").[94] HP HSTNN-IB94 Battery


Balzac concerned himself overwhelmingly with the darker essence of human nature and the corrupting influence of middle and high societies.[95] He worked to observe humanity in its most representative state, frequently passing incognito among the masses of Parisian society to do research.[96] He used incidents from his life and the people around him, in works like Eugénie Grandet and Louis Lambert.[97] HP HSTNN-LB93 Battery


Balzac influenced the writers of his time and beyond. He has been compared to Charles Dickens and has been called one of Dickens' influences. Critic W. H. Helm calls one "the French Dickens" and the other "the English Balzac".[99] Critic Richard Lehan says that "Balzac was the bridge between the comic realism of Dickens and the naturalism ofZola."[100] HP HSTNN-LB94 Battery


Gustave Flaubert was also substantially influenced by Balzac. Praising his portrayal of society while attacking his prose style, Flaubert once wrote: "What a man he would have been had he known how to write!"[101] While he disdained the label of "realist", HP HSTNN-OB93 Battery

Flaubert clearly took heed of Balzac's close attention to detail and unvarnished depictions of bourgeois life.[102] This influence shows in Flaubert's work L'education sentimentale,which owes a debt to Balzac's Illusions Perdues.[103] "What Balzac started", says Lehan, "Flaubert helped finish."[104] HP HSTNN-OB94 Battery


Marcel Proust similarly learned from the Realist example; he adored Balzac and studied his works carefully, although he criticised what he called Balzac's "vulgarity."[105][106]Balzac's story Une Heure de ma Vie (An Hour of my Life, 1822), HP HSTNN-XB93 Battery

in which minute details are followed by deep personal reflections, is a clear ancestor of the style which Proust used in À la recherche du temps perdu.[96] However, Proust wrote later in life that the contemporary fashion to rank Balzac higher than Tolstoy was "madness."[107] HP HSTNN-XB94 Battery


Perhaps the author most affected by Balzac was American expatriate novelist Henry James. In 1878 James wrote with sadness about the lack of contemporary attention paid to Balzac, and lavished praise on him in four essays (in 1875, 1877, 1902, and 1913). In 1878 James wrote: "Large as Balzac is, he is all of one piece and he hangs perfectly together."[108] HP NU089AA Battery

He wrote with admiration of Balzac's attempt to portray in writing "a beast with a hundred claws."[109] In his own novels James explored more of the psychological motives of the characters and less of the historical sweep exhibited by Balzac – a conscious style preference. HP HSTNN-DB95 Battery

"[T]he artist of the Comédie Humaine," he wrote, "is half smothered by the historian."[110] Still, both authors used the form of the realist novel to probe the machinations of society and the myriad motives of human behavior.[104][111] HP HSTNN-IB95 Battery


Balzac's vision of a society in which class, money and personal ambition are the major players has been endorsed by critics of both left-wing and right-wing political tendencies.[112] Marxist Friedrich Engels wrote: "I have learned more [from Balzac] than from all the professional historians, economists and statisticians put together."[113] HP HSTNN-LB95 Battery

Balzac has received high praise from critics as diverse as Walter Benjamin and Camille Paglia.[114] In 1970 Roland Barthes published S/Z, a detailed analysis of Balzac's storySarrasine and a key work in structuralist literary criticism. HP HSTNN-XB95 Battery


Balzac has also influenced popular culture. Many of his works have been made into popular films and television serials, including Les Chouans (1947), Le Père Goriot (1968 BBC mini-series), and La Cousine Bette (1974 BBC mini-series, starring Margaret Tyzackand Helen Mirren; 1998 film, starring Jessica Lange). He is included in François Truffaut's 1959 film, HP NU090AA Battery

The 400 Blows. Truffaut believed Balzac and Proust to be the greatest of French writers.[115] He was also adapted into a character in Orson Scott Card's alternate historyseries The Tales of Alvin Maker; he is presented as a crude but deeply witty and insightful man. HP 500028-142 Battery

Chinese author Dai Sijie published Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse Chinoise (Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress)(2000), in which a suitcase filled with novels helps to sustain city youths sent to the countryside for "re-education" during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It was made into a film (adapted and directed by the author) in 2002. The Japanese rock band Balzac is also named in his honor. HP 500029-142 Battery


Alexandre Dumas, pronounced: [a.lɛk.sɑ̃dʁ dy.ma], born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie ([dy.ma da.vi də pa.jət.ʁi]) (24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870)[1] was a Frenchwriter, best known for his historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world. Many of his novels, including The Count of Monte CristoHP HSTNN-IB83 Battery

The Three MusketeersTwenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne were originally serialized. He also wrote plays and magazine articles and was a prolific correspondent. Born in poverty, Dumas was the grandson of a French nobleman and a Haitian slave. HP 579320-001 Battery


Early life

Alexandre Dumas was born in Villers-Cotterêts in the department of Aisne, in Picardy, France.

Dumas' paternal grandparents were Marquis Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman and Général commissaire in the Artillery in the colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and Marie-Cesette Dumas, an Afro-Caribbean Creole of mixed French and African ancestry.[2][3] HP HSTNN-OB92 Battery

Their son, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, married Marie-Louise Élisabeth Labouret, the daughter of an innkeeper. Thomas-Alexandre, then a general in Napoleon's army, fell out of favor and the family was impoverished when Dumas was born. HP HSTNN-XB92 Battery


Thomas-Alexandre died in 1806. His widow was unable to provide her son with much of an education, but Dumas read everything he could obtain. His mother's stories of his father's bravery during the years of Napoleon I of France inspired Dumas' vivid imagination for adventure. HP HSTNN-DB90 Battery

Although poor, the family had their father's distinguished reputation and aristocratic position. In 1822, after the restoration of the monarchy, 20-year old Alexandre Dumas moved to Paris, where he worked at the Palais Royal in the office of Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans. HP 292389-001 Battery


While in Paris, Dumas began writing for magazines and plays for the theater. His first play,Henry III and His Courts, was produced in 1829, and was met with acclaim. The next year his second play, Christine, was equally popular, HP 337607-001 Battery

and he was financially able to write full-time. In 1830 he participated in the Revolution which ousted Charles X, and which replaced him on the throne with Dumas' former employer, the Duke of Orléans, who would rule as Louis-Philippe, the Citizen KingHP 337607-003 Battery


Until the mid-1830s life in France remained unsettled, with sporadic riots by disgruntled Republicans and impoverished urban workers seeking change. As life slowly returned to normal, the nation began to industrialize, and with an improving economy—combined with the end of press censorship—the times were very rewarding for the skills of Alexandre Dumas.HP 338794-001 Battery


After writing more successful plays, he turned his efforts to novels. Although attracted to an extravagant lifestyle, and always spending more than he earned, Dumas proved to be an astute marketer. Since newspapers wanted many serial novels, HP 342661-001 Battery

in 1838 Dumas rewrote one of his plays to create his first serial novel, titled Le Capitaine Paul, which led to his forming a production studio that turned out hundreds of stories, all subject to his personal input and direction. HP 345027-001 Battery


From 1839 to 1841 Dumas, with the assistance of several friends, compiled Celebrated Crimes, an eight-volume collection of essays on famous criminals and crimes from European history, including Beatrice Cenci, Martin Guerre, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia as well as more recent incidents, including the cases of executed alleged murderers Karl Ludwig Sand and Antoine François Desrues. HP 346970-001 Battery


Dumas also collaborated with his fencing master Augustin Grisier in his 1840 novel, The Fencing Master. The story is written to be Grisier's narrated account of how he came to witness the events of the Decembrist revolt in Russia. HP 361742-001 Battery

This novel was eventually banned in Russia by Czar Nicholas I, causing Dumas to be banned from visiting Russia until after the Czar's death. Grisier is also mentioned with great respect in The Count of Monte CristoThe Corsican Brothers and in Dumas' memoirs. HP 367759-001 Battery


Dumas made extensive use of the aid of numerous assistants and collaborators, of whomAuguste Maquet was the best known. It was Maquet who outlined the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo, and made substantial contributions to The Three Musketeers and its sequels, HP 371785-001 Battery

as well as to several of Dumas' other novels. When they were working together, Maquet proposed plots and wrote drafts, while Dumas added the details, dialogues, and the final chapters. See Andrew Lang essay, Alexandre Dumas—in his Essays In Little(1891)—for an accurate description of these collaborations. HP 371786-001 Battery


Dumas' writing earned him a great deal of money, but Dumas was frequently insolvent as a result of spending lavishly on women and sumptuous living. The large Château de Monte-Cristo that he built was often filled with strangers and acquaintances taking advantage of his generosity. HP 372772-001 Battery


When King Louis-Philippe was ousted in a revolt, Dumas was not looked upon favorably by the newly elected President, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. In 1851 Dumas fled toBrussels, Belgium, to escape his creditors, and from there he traveled to Russia, where French was the second language, and where his writings were enormously popular. HP 383220-001 Battery

Dumas spent two years in Russia, before moving on to seek adventure and fodder for more stories. In March 1861 the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, with Victor Emmanuel IIas its king. For the next three years Alexandre Dumas would be involved in the fight for a united Italy, founding and leading a newspaper, named Indipendente, and returning to Paris in 1864. HP 395789-001 Battery


Despite Alexandre Dumas' success and aristocratic background, his being of mixed race affected him all his life. In 1843 he wrote a short novel, Georges, that addressed some of the issues of race and the effects of colonialism. He once remarked to a man who insulted him about his mixed-race background: HP 396008-001 Battery


Personal life

On 1 February 1840 he married actress Ida Ferrier (born Marguerite-Joséphine Ferrand) (1811—1859) but continued with his numerous liaisons with other women, fathering at least four illegitimate children. One of those children, HP 398876-001 Battery

a son named after him, whose mother was Marie-Laure-Catherine Labay (1794—1868), a dressmaker, would follow in his footsteps, also becoming a successful novelist and playwright. Because of their same name and occupation, the father is often referred to as Alexandre Dumas, HP 411462-421 Battery

père, and the son as Alexandre Dumas, fils. His other children were Marie-Alexandrine Dumas (5 March 1831—1878) who later married Pierre Petel and was daughter of Belle Krelsamer (1803—1875), Micaëlla-Clélie-Josepha-Élisabeth Cordier, born in 1860 and daughter of Emélie Cordier, and Henry Bauer, born of an unknown mother. HP 417066-001 Battery


In June 2005 Dumas' recently discovered last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, went on sale in France. Within the story Dumas describes the Battle of Trafalgar, HP BAT0302001 Battery

in which the death of Lord Nelson is explained. The novel was being published serially, and was nearly complete at the time of his death. A final two-and-a-half chapters were written by modern-day Dumas scholar Claude Schopp, who based his efforts on Dumas' pre-writing notes.[6] HP 916-2150 Battery


Although he was originally buried where he had been born, in 2002 French President,Jacques Chirac, had his body exhumed. During a televised ceremony his new coffin, draped in a blue velvet cloth and flanked by four Republican Guards (costumed as theMusketeers—Athos, HP CGR-B1870AE Battery

 Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan), was transported in a solemn procession to the Panthéon of Paris, the great mausoleum where French luminaries are interred.[7] In his speech President Chirac said: HP DG103A Battery


"With you, we were D'Artagnan, Monte Cristo, or Balsamo, riding along the roads of France, touring battlefields, visiting palaces and castles—with you, we dream."[8] HP DM842A Battery

Also during that speech, Chirac acknowledged the racism that had existed, saying that a wrong had now been righted, with Alexandre Dumas enshrined alongside fellow authorsVictor Hugo and Emile Zola.[8][9] The honor recognized that although France has producedmany great writers, none has been so widely read as Alexandre Dumas. His stories have been translated into almost a hundred languages, and have inspired more than 200 motion pictures.[10] HP DP390A Battery


Alexandre Dumas' home outside of Paris, the Château de Monte-Cristo, has been restored and is open to the public. The Alexandre Dumas Paris Métro station was named in his honour in 1970. HP DP399A Battery


Dumas appears as a character in the Kevin J. Anderson novel Captain Nemo: The Fantastic History of a Dark Genius. He encourages Jules Verne to find his own voice and write about his friend Captain Nemo's exploits rather than emulate Dumas' historical fiction. HP EF419A Battery


Victor Hugo

Victor-Marie Hugo (French pronunciation: [viktɔʁ maʁi yɡo]) (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist[citation needed] and exponent of the Romantic movement in France. HP EG417AA Battery


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 andLa Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem,HP EV087AA Battery

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 (also known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). HP EV088AA Battery


Though a committed royalist when he was young, Hugo's views changed as the decades passed;[1] he became a passionate supporter of republicanism[citation needed], and his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and artistic trends of his time. He is buried in the PanthéonHP EX941AA Battery


Hugo was the third, illegitimate, son of Joseph Léopold Sigisbert Hugo (1774–1828) 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. HP EX942AA Battery

However, he decided to live in exile as a result of Napoleon III's Coup d'état at the end of 1851. Hugo lived briefly in Brussels(1851) then moved to the Channel Islands, firstly to Jersey (1852–55) and then to the smaller island of Guernsey (1855–1870). HP F1466A Battery

Although a general amnesty was proclaimed by Napoleon III in 1859; Hugo stayed in exile, only ending it when Napoleon III was forced from power as a result of the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Hugo returned again to Guernsey (1872–73), after suffering through the Siege of Paris, before finally returning to France for the remainder of his life. HP F1739A Battery


Hugo's childhood was a period of national political turmoil. 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[clarification needed] HP F2019 Battery

in Napoleon's army until he failed in Spain[clarification needed] (one of the reasons why his name is not present on the Arc de Triomphe).[citation needed] He was an freethinking republican who considered Napoléon a hero; his mother was a Catholic Royalist who is believed[by whom?] HP F2019A Battery

to have taken as her lover General Victor Lahorie, who was executed in 1812 for plotting against Napoléon.[citation needed] Since Hugo's father was an officer, the family moved frequently and Hugo learned much from these travels.[citation needed] HP F2019B Battery

On his family's journey toNaples, he saw the vast Alpine passes and the snowy peaks, the magnificently blue Mediterranean, and Rome during its festivities.[original research?] Though he was only nearly six at the time, he remembered the half-year-long trip vividly.[citation needed] They stayed in Naples for a few months and then headed back to Paris.[citation needed] HP F2024 Battery


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, HP F2024A Battery

and at odds with her husband's lack of Catholic beliefs, 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. HP F2024B Battery

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 andFreethought. HP F2299A Battery


Young Victor fell in love and against his mother's wishes and became secretly engaged to his childhood friend Adèle Foucher (1803–1868).[citation needed] HP F3172A Battery

Unusually close to his mother,[citation needed] he married 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 (28 October 1828) and Adèle (24 August 1830). Hugo published his first novel the following year (Han d'Islande, 1823), HP F4486A Battery

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. HP F4486B Battery


Hugo was devastated when his oldest and favorite daughter, Léopoldine, died at age 19 in 1843, shortly after her marriage. She drowned in the Seine at Villequier, pulled down by her heavy skirts, when a boat overturned. Her young husband Charles Vacquerie also died trying to save her. HP F4809A Battery

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.[2] He describes his shock and grief in his poem À VillequierHP F4812A Battery


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 preeminent literary figure during the early 19th century. In his youth, HP HSTNN-DB02 Battery

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, HP HSTNN-DB20 Battery

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, HP HSTNN-IB04 Battery

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. HP HSTNN-IB09 Battery

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, HP HSTNN-IB20 Battery

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 HP PB992A Battery

 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-neglectedCathedral of Notre Dame, HP PB994A Battery

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. HP PB995A Battery


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. Hugo was acutely aware of the quality of the novel and publication of the work went to the highest bidder. HP PF723A Battery

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"),HP PP2210 Battery

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, HP RW556AA Battery

Gustav 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". HP ProBook 4510s Battery

Les Misérables proved popular enough with the masses that the issues it highlighted were soon on the agenda of the National Assembly of France. Today the novel remains his most enduringly popular work. It is popular worldwide, has been adapted for cinema, television and stage shows. HP ProBook 4510s/CT Battery


The shortest correspondence in history is said to have been between Hugo and his publisher Hurst and Blackett in 1862. Hugo was on vacation when Les Misérables was published. He queried the reaction to the work by sending a single-character telegram to his publisher, asking "?". The publisher replied with a single "!" to indicate its success.[3] HP ProBook 4515s Battery


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 MisérablesHP ProBook 4710s Battery

Dedicated to the channel island ofGuernsey 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, HP ProBook 4710s/CT Battery

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. HP ProBook 4410s Battery

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, HP ProBook 4416s Battery

and Hugo himself began to comment on the growing distance between himself and literary contemporaries such as Flaubert and Émile Zola, whose realist andnaturalist novels were now exceeding the popularity of his own work. His last novel,Quatre-vingt-treize (Ninety-Three), HP ProBook 4415s Battery

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. HP ProBook 4210s Battery


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 academicians, particularly Etienne de Jouy, were fighting against the "romantic evolution" and had managed to delay Victor Hugo's election.[4] HP ProBook 4310s Battery

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,HP ProBook 4311s Battery

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. HP Pavilion dv2 Battery


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 toBrussels, then Jersey, and finally settled with his family at Hauteville House in Saint Peter Port, Guernsey, where he would live in exile until 1870. HP Pavilion dv2-1000 Battery

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, HP Pavilion dv2-1030 Battery

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). HP Pavilion dv2-1000eo Battery


He convinced the government of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom 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.[5] HP Pavilion dv2-1001au Battery

He had also pleaded for Benito Juárez to spare the recently captured emperor Maximilian I of Mexico but to no avail. His complete archives (published by Pauvert) show also that he wrote a letter asking the USA, for the sake of their own reputation in the future, to spareJohn Brown's life, but the letter arrived after Brown was executed. HP Pavilion dv2-1001ax Battery


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. HP Pavilion dv2-1001eg Battery


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".HP Pavilion dv2-1002au Battery


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. However, in Pauvert's published archives, HP Pavilion dv2-1002ax Battery

he states strongly that "any work of art has two authors : the people who confusingly feels something, a creator who translates these feelings, and the people again who consecrates his vision of that feeling. When one of the authors dies, the rights should totally be granted back to the other, the people".HP Pavilion dv2-1002xx Battery

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