Memoirs of Victor Hugo
180 pages

Vous pourrez modifier la taille du texte de cet ouvrage

Découvre YouScribe en t'inscrivant gratuitement

Je m'inscris

Memoirs of Victor Hugo , livre ebook


Découvre YouScribe en t'inscrivant gratuitement

Je m'inscris
Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne
En savoir plus
180 pages

Vous pourrez modifier la taille du texte de cet ouvrage

Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne
En savoir plus


This volume of memoirs has a double character-historical and intimate. The life of a period, the XIX Century, is bound up in the life of a man, VICTOR HUGO. As we follow the events set forth we get the impression they made upon the mind of the extraordinary man who recounts them; and of all the personages he brings before us he himself is assuredly not the least interesting. In portraits from the brushes of Rembrandts there are always two portraits, that of the model and that of the painter


Publié par
Date de parution 27 septembre 2010
Nombre de lectures 3
EAN13 9782819921806
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0100€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


This volume of memoirs has a double character—historical andintimate. The life of a period, the XIX Century, is bound up in thelife of a man, VICTOR HUGO. As we follow the events set forth weget the impression they made upon the mind of the extraordinary manwho recounts them; and of all the personages he brings before us hehimself is assuredly not the least interesting. In portraits fromthe brushes of Rembrandts there are always two portraits, that ofthe model and that of the painter.
This is not a diary of events arranged in chronological order,nor is it a continuous autobiography. It is less and it is more, orrather, it is better than these. It is a sort of haphazard chronique in which only striking incidents and occurrencesare brought out, and lengthy and wearisome details are avoided.VICTOR HUGO'S long and chequered life was filled with experiencesof the most diverse character—literature and politics, the courtand the street, parliament and the theatre, labour, struggles,disappointments, exile and triumphs. Hence we get a series ofpictures of infinite variety.
Let us pass the gallery rapidly in review.
It opens in 1825, at Rheims, during the coronation of CHARLES X,with an amusing causerie on the manners and customs of theRestoration. The splendour of this coronation ceremony wassingularly spoiled by the pitiable taste of those who had charge ofit. These worthies took upon themselves to mutilate the sculpturework on the marvellous façade and to "embellish" the austerecathedral with Gothic decorations of cardboard. The century, likethe author, was young, and in some things both were incrediblyignorant; the masterpieces of literature were then unknown to themost learned littérateurs : CHARLES NODIER had never readthe "Romancero", and VICTOR HUGO knew little or nothing aboutShakespeare.
At the outset the poet dominates in VICTOR HUGO; he belongswholly to his creative imagination and to his literary work. It isthe theatre; it is his "Cid", and "Hernani", with its stormyperformances; it is the group of his actors, Mlle. MARS, Mlle.GEORGES, FREDERICK LEMAITRE, the French KEAN, with more genius; itis the Academy, with its different kind of coteries.
About this time VICTOR HUGO questions, anxiously and not invain, a passer–by who witnessed the execution of LOUIS XVI, and anofficer who escorted Napoleon to Paris on his return from theIsland of Elba.
Next, under the title, "Visions of the Real", come some sketchesin the master's best style, of things seen "in the mind's eye," asHamlet says. Among them "The Hovel" will attract attention. Thissketch resembles a page from EDGAR POE, although it was writtenlong before POE's works were introduced into France.
With "Love in Prison" VICTOR HUGO deals with social questions,in which he was more interested than in political questions. Andyet, in entering the Chamber of Peers he enters public life. Hissphere is enlarged, he becomes one of the familiars of theTuileries. LOUIS PHILIPPE, verbose and full of recollections thathe is fond of imparting to others, seeks the company andappreciation of this listener of note, and makes all sorts ofconfidences to him. The King with his very haughty bonhomie and hissomewhat infatuated wisdom; the grave and sweet DUCHESS D'ORLEANS,the boisterous and amiable princes—the whole commonplace andhome–like court—are depicted with kindliness but sincerity.
The horizon, however, grows dark, and from 1846 the new peer ofFrance notes the gradual tottering of the edifice of royalty. Therevolution of 1848 bursts out. Nothing could be more thrilling thanthe account, hour by hour, of the events of the three days ofFebruary. VICTOR HUGO is not merely a spectator of this greatdrama, he is an actor in it. He is in the streets, he makesspeeches to the people, he seeks to restrain them; he believes,with too good reason, that the Republic is premature, and, in thePlace de la Bastille, before the evolutionary Faubourg SaintAntoine, he dares to proclaim the Regency.
Four months later distress provokes the formidable insurrectionof June, which is fatal to the Republic.
The year 1848 is the stormy year. The atmosphere is fiery, menare violent, events are tragical. Battles in the streets arefollowed by fierce debates in the Assembly. VICTOR HUGO takes partin the mêlée. We witness the scenes with him; he points out thechief actors to us. His "Sketches" made in the National Assemblyare "sketched from life" in the fullest acceptation of the term.Twenty lines suffice. ODILON BARROT and CHANGARNIER, PRUDHON andBLANQUI, LAMARTINE and "Monsieur THIERS" come, go, speak—veritableliving figures.
The most curious of the figures is LOUIS BONAPARTE when hearrived in Paris and when he assumed the Presidency of theRepublic. He is gauche, affected, somewhat ridiculous, distrustedby the Republicans, and scoffed at by the Royalists. Nothing couldbe more suggestive or more piquant than the inauguration dinner atthe Elysee, at which VICTOR HUGO was one of the guests, and thefirst and courteous relations between the author of "Napoleon theLittle" and the future Emperor who was to inflict twenty years ofexile upon him.
But now we come to the year which VICTOR HUGO has designated"The Terrible Year," the war, and the siege of Paris. This part ofthe volume is made up of extracts from note–books, private andpersonal notes, dotted down from day to day. Which is to say thatthey do not constitute an account of the oft–related episodes ofthe siege, but tell something new, the little side of great events,the little incidents of everyday life, the number of shells firedinto the city and what they cost, the degrees of cold, the price ofprovisions, what is being said, sung, and eaten, and at the sametime give the psychology of the great city, its illusions, revolts,wrath, anguish, and also its gaiety; for during these long monthsParis never gave up hope and preserved an heroic cheerfulness.
On the other hand a painful note runs through the diary keptduring the meeting of the Assembly at Bordeaux. France is not onlyvanquished, she is mutilated. The conqueror demands a ransom ofmilliards—it is his right, the right of the strongest; but he tearsfrom her two provinces, with their inhabitants devoted to France;it is a return towards barbarism. VICTOR HUGO withdraws indignantlyfrom the Assembly which has agreed to endorse the Treaty ofFrankfort. And three days after his resignation he sees CHARLESHUGO, his eldest son, die a victim to the privations of the siege.He is stricken at once in his love of country and in his paternallove, and one can say that in these painful pages, more than in anyof the others, the book is history that has been lived.
Paris, Sept. 15, 1899.
AT RHEIMS. 1823–1838.
It was at Rheims that I heard the name of Shakespeare for thefirst time. It was pronounced by Charles Nodier. That was in 1825,during the coronation of Charles X.
No one at that time spoke of Shakespeare quite seriously.Voltaire's ridicule of him was law. Mme. de Staël had adoptedGermany, the great land of Kant, of Schiller, and of Beethoven.Ducis was at the height of his triumph; he and Delille were seatedside by side in academic glory, which is not unlike theatricalglory. Ducis had succeeded in doing something with Shakespeare; hehad made him possible; he had extracted some "tragedies" from him;Ducis impressed one as being a man who could chisel an Apollo outof Moloch. It was the time when Iago was called Pezare; Horatio,Norceste; and Desdemona, Hedelmone. A charming and very wittywoman, the Duchess de Duras, used to say: "Desdemona, what an uglyname! Fie!" Talma, Prince of Denmark, in a tunic of lilac satintrimmed with fur, used to exclaim: "Avaunt! Dread spectre!" Thepoor spectre, in fact, was only tolerated behind the scenes. If ithad ventured to put in the slightest appearance M. EvaristeDumoulin would have given it a severe talking to. Some Génin orother would have hurled at it the first cobble–stone he could layhis hand on—a line from Boileau: L'esprit n'est point ému de cequ'il ne croit pas . It was replaced on the stage by an "urn"that Talma carried under his arm. A spectre is ridiculous; "ashes,"that's the style! Are not the "ashes" of Napoleon still spoken of?Is not the translation of the coffin from St. Helena to theInvalides alluded to as "the return of the ashes"? As to thewitches of Macbeth, they were rigorously barred. The hall–porter ofthe Théâtre–Français had his orders. They would have been receivedwith their own brooms.
I am mistaken, however, in saying that I did not knowShakespeare. I knew him as everybody else did, not having read him,and having treated him with ridicule. My childhood began, aseverybody's childhood begins, with prejudices. Man finds prejudicesbeside his cradle, puts them from him a little in the course of hiscareer, and often, alas! takes to them again in his old age.
During this journey in 1825 Charles Nodier and I passed our timerecounting to each other the Gothic tales and romances that havetaken root in Rheims. Our memories and sometimes our imaginations,clubbed together. Each of us furnished his legend. Rheims is one ofthe most impossible towns in the geography of story. Pagan lordshave lived there, one of whom gave as a dower to his daughter thestrips of land in Borysthenes called the "race–courses ofAchilles." The Duke de Guyenne, in the fabliaux, passes throughRheims on his way to besiege Babylon; Babylon, moreover, which isvery worthy of Rheims, is the capital of the Admiral Gaudissius. Itis at Rheims that the deputation sent by the Locri Ozolae toApollonius of Tyana, "high priest of Bellona,""disembarks." Whilediscussing this disembarkation we argued concerning the LocriOzolae. These people, according to Nodier, were called the Fetidaebecause they were half monkeys; according to myself, because theyinhabited the marshes of Phocis. We reconstructed on the spot thetradition of St. Remigius and his adventures with the fairyMazela

  • Univers Univers
  • Ebooks Ebooks
  • Livres audio Livres audio
  • Presse Presse
  • Podcasts Podcasts
  • BD BD
  • Documents Documents