Victor Hugo (1803-1885)-A Biographical Sketch
Victor-Marie Hugo(1802-1885),novelist,poet,and dramatist, was one of the most important of French Romantic Writers.In his preface to his historical play Cromwell(1827) he wrote that romanticism is the liberalism of literature.Going by this theory that was formulated by himself,he developed his own creation of the historical novel.He used combining concrete,historical details with vivid sensuous,melodramatic,and even bizarre imagination.The element of excitement he achieved in his stories through the intermingling of facts and emotions makes them all thrillers despite their tremendous complexity.
He was born in Besancon as the son of Joseph-Léopold-Sigisbert Hugo and Sophie Trebuchet.His father was a General in Napoleon’s army,an enthusiastic republican and ruthless professional soldier,who loved dangers and adventures.
After his parents separated from each other when he was two,Victor Hugo was raised and educated in Paris by his mother.In 1807 Sophie took her family for two years from Paris to Italy,where Leopold served as a governor of a province near Naples.When General Hugo took charge of three Spanish provinces,Sophie again joined her husband.General Hugo taught young Victor to admire Napoleon as a hero.
From 1815 Hugo attended the Lycée Louse-le Grand in Paris.He began in early adolescence to write verse tragedies and poetry,and translated Virgil.His first collection of poems,Odes et Poesies Diverses gained him a royal pension from Louis XVIII.As a novelist he made his debut with Han D’Islande (1823) followed by Bug-Jargul(1826). In 1822 he married Adéle Foucher who was the daughter of an officer at the Ministry of War.
He gained wider fame with his play Hernani(1831) and his famous historical novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) which became an instant success.Since its appearance in 1831 the story became part of popular culture.The novel,set in 15th century Paris,tells a moving story of the gypsy girl Esmerelda and the deformed bell ringer Quasimodo,who loves her.
In the 1830s Hugo published several volumes of lyrical poetry,in a rich and intense style full of powerful sounds and rhythms,and although it followed the bourgeois popular taste of the period it also had bitter personal tones.
In the letter part of his life he was involved in politics as a supporter of the republican form of government.After three unsuccessful attempts, he got elected in 1841 to the Académie Francaise.This triumph was shadowed by the death of his daughter Léopoldine in 1843. It took 10 years to him to start publishing books again.He devoted himself to politics, advocating social justice.After the 1848 revolution, with the formation of the Second Republic, he was elected to the Constitutional Assembly.And also he elected to the Legislative Assembly.
When the coup d’élat by Louis Napoleon(Napoleon III) took place in 1851, he sensed that his life was in danger.So he fled to Brusssels and then to Jersey and Guernsey in the English Channel.During this partly voluntary exile of nearly 20 years,he produced at Hauteville House some his best works.Including Les Chatimets (1853) and Les Misérables(1862), an epic story about social injustice.
The political upheaval in France and the proclamation of the third Republic made Hugo return to France.During the period of the Paris Commune, Hugo lived in Brussels, from where he was expelled for sheltering defeated revolutionaries.After a short time of living as a refugee in Luxemberg, he returned to Paris and was elected senator.
Hugo died in Paris on May 22,1885.HE was given a national funeral,attended by two million people,and buried in the Panthéon.
Sasindu Jayasri is an Engineering student at Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.