Hugo, Victor (-Marie)


Hugo, Victor (-Marie)

biographical name

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Victor Hugo, photograph by Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon).—Archives Photographiques, Paris

(born Feb. 26, 1802, Besançon, France—died May 22, 1885, Paris) French poet, dramatist, and novelist. The son of a general, he was an accomplished poet before age 20. With his verse drama Cromwell (1827), he emerged as an important figure in Romanticism. The production of his poetic tragedy Hernani (1830) was a victory for Romantics over traditional classicists in a well-known literary battle. His later plays included Le Roi s'amuse (1832) and Ruy Blas (1838). His best-known novels are The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831), an evocation of medieval life, and Les Misérables (1862), the story of the convict Jean Valjean; their huge popularity made him at that time the most successful writer in the world. In later life he was a politician and political writer. He spent the years 1851–70 in exile for his republican views, producing his most extensive and original works, including Les Châtiments (1853), poems of political satire; Les Contemplations (1856); and the first installment of The Legend of the Centuries (1859, 1877, 1883). He was made a senator in 1876, and he was buried in the Panthéon as a national hero.

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