Happy Birthday Victor Hugo!

Victor Hugo

Two hundred and eleven years ago today, French poet, novelist, and dramatist Victor Hugo was born. Known today as one of the most important French Romantic writers, Hugo was a significant contributor to the early development of the Romantic period. Although most well-known in France for his poetry, Hugo’s novels, particularly Les Miserables and Notre-Dame de Paris (known as The Hunchback of Notre Dame in English), continue to be internationally known and studied. Scholars divide Hugo’s work into three periods: the first consists of lyrical works, such as odes and other romantic poetry; the second addresses political concerns and social conditions, as is exemplified in Les Miserables; and the third and final period of Hugo’s career focuses on mysticism and poetic vision as the basis for his poetic work. In addition to writing poetry and novels, Hugo became deeply involved in politics at a time when France was experiencing political turmoil. Hugo’s liberal, anti-Napoleonic views led to his exile for a brief time, although upon his return he served on the French National Assembly and Senate. Hugo’s death was nationally mourned; he was viewed as both an important literary figure as well as a political leader instrumental in shaping a democratic republic in France.

Visit the Literatures and Languages Library to discover books by and about Victor Hugo.

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