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Victor Hugo (1802-1885)


Novelist, poet, and dramatist, the most important of French Romantic writers. Victor Hugo developed his own version of the historical novel, combining concrete, historical details with vivid, melodramatic, even feverish imagination. His best-known works include The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) and Les Misérables (1862).

"How came it that this prudent, economical man was also generous? That this chaste adolescent, this model father, grew to be, in his last years, an ageing faun? That this legitimist changed, first into a Bonapartist, only, later still, to be hailed as the grandfather of the Republic? That this pacifist could sing, better than anybody, of the glories of the flags of Wagram? That this bourgeois in the eyes of other bourgeois came to assume the stature of a rebel? These are the questions that every biographer of Victor Hugo must answer." (from Olympio: The Life of Victor Hugo by André Maurois, 1954)

Victor-Marie Hugo was born in Besançon, the son of Joseph-Léopold-Sigisbert Hugo and Sophie Trébuchet. Hugo's father was an officer in Napoleon's army, an enthusiastic republican and ruthless professional soldier, who loved dangers and adventures. After the marriage of his parents had collapsed, Hugo was raised by his mother. In 1807 Sophie took her family for two years from Paris to Italy, where Léopold served as a governor of a province near Naples. When General Hugo took charge of three Spanish provinces, Sophie again joined her husband. Sophie's lover, General Victor Lahorie, her husband's former Commandin Officer, was shot in 1812 by a firing-squad for plotting against Napoleon. General Hugo died in 1828; at that time Hugo started to call himself a baron.

From 1815 to 1818 Hugo spend in the Pension Cordier in Paris, but most of the classes of the school were held at the Collège Louis-le Grand. He began in early adolescence to write verse tragedies and poetry, and translated Virgil. At the age of sixteen he noted: "Many a great poet is often / Nothing but a literary giraffe: / How great he seems in front, / How small he is behind!" With his brothers he founded in 1819 a review, the Conservateur Littéraire. Inspired by the example of the statesman and author François René Chateaubriand, Hugo published his first collection of poems, Odes et poésies diverses (1822). It gained him a royal pension from Louis XVIII. As a novelist Hugo made his debut with Han d'Islande (1823), which appeared first anonymously in four pocket-sized volumes. It was translated two years later in English and a Norwegian translation was published in 1831. The style of Sir Walter Scott labelled several of his works, among them Bug-Jargal  (1826), about friendship between an enslaved African prince and a French military officer.

In 1822 Hugo married Adèle Foucher (d. 1868), who was the daughter of an officer at the ministry of war. His brother Eugéne, who had mental problems, was secretly in love with her and lost his mind on Hugo's wedding day. Engéne spent the rest of his life in an institution. In the 1820s Hugo come in touch with liberal writers, but his political stand wavered from side to side. He wrote royalist odes, cursed the memory of Napoleon, but then started to defend his father's role in Napoleon's victories, and attack the injustices of the monarchist regime. Le Dernier Jour d'un condamné (1829, The Last Day of a Condemned Man), written in the form of an interior monologue, was a plea for the abolition of the capital punishment. This was the work that the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky  recalled in 1849 before a firing squad, waiting to be executed for revolutionary activities. Dostoevsky suffered the same agonies as Hugo's narrator. 

To rise at six, to dine at ten,
To sup at six, to sleep at ten,
Makes a man live for ten times ten.

(Inscription over the door of Hugo's study)

Hugo's foreword for his play Cromwell (1829), a manifesto for a new drama, started a debate between French Classicism and Romanticism. However, Hugo was not a rebel, and not directly involved in the campaign against the bourgeois, but he influenced deeply the Romantic movement and the formulation of its values in France. "The Victor I loved is no more," said Alfred de Vigny, "... now he likes to make saucy remarks and is turning into a liberal, which does not suit him..." Hugo gained a wider fame with his play Hernani (1830), in which Hernani, a bandit, and other conspirators, planning to kill the the Spanish king Don Carlos, use the phrase "Ad augusta per angusta" (Through difficulties to honours) as password. At the end Hernani and his newly wed wife Doña Sol drink poison and die. Of all of Hugo's dramas, Le roi s'amuse (1832), on which Verdi based his opera Rigoletto, and Ryu Blas (1838) have been the most popular among filmmakers.

Hugo's historical work Notre-Dame de Paris was an instant success. Since its appearance the story has became part of the popular culture. The novel, set in 15th century Paris, tells a moving story of a gypsy girl Esmeralda and the deformed, deaf bell-ringer, Quasimodo, who loves her. Esmeralda aroses passion in Claude Frollo, an evil priest, who discovers that she favors Captain Phoebus. Frollo stabs the captain and Esmeralda is accused of the crime. Quasimodo attempts to shelter Esmeralda in the cathedral. Frollo finds her and when Frollo is rejected by Esmeralda, he leaves her to the executioners. In his despair Quasimodo catches the priest, throws him from the cathedral tower, and disappears. Later two skeletons are found in Esmeralda's tomb – that of a hunchback embracing that of a woman. In 1831 Hugo also wrote the libretto for Louise Bertin's Esmeralda, an opera based on the novel.

Où sont-ils, les marins sombrés dans le nuits noires?
O flots, quo vous savez de lugubres histoires!
Flots profonds redoutés des mères à genoux!
Vous vous les racontez en montant les marées,
Et c'est ce qui vous fait ces voix désespérées
Que vous avez le soir quand vous venez vers nous!

(from 'Oceano nox')

In the 1830s Hugo published several volumes of lyric poetry, which were inspired by Juliette Drouet (Julienne-Joséphine Gauvain), an actress with whom Hugo had a liaison until her death in 1882. Possibly Mlle Juliette taught him the actress's proverb, "A woman who has one lover is an angel, a woman who has two lovers is a monster, and a woman who has three lovers is a woman." Hugo, himself, was never a faithful lover. Adéle had an affair with Hugo's friend Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve. "Let us not bury our friendship," Hugo wrote to him, but later described him as a man, who 'lifts his loathsome skirt and says, "Admire me!"' Hugo himself was seen by his fans a Gargantuan, larger-than-life character, and rumors spread that he could eat half an ox at a single sitting, fast for three days, and work non-stop for a week.

Hugo's lyrical style was rich, intense and full of powerful sounds and rhythms, and although it followed the bourgeois popular taste of the period it also had bitter personal tones. Hugo's 'Mme Biard poems' – he had an affair with Léonie d'Aunet (Mme Biard's maiden name) in the 1840s – are intensely sexual. According to Verlaine a typical Hugo love poem was "I like you. You yield to me. I love you. – You resist me. Clear off..."

In his later life Hugo became involved in politics as a supporter of the republican form of government. After three unsuccessful attempts, Hugo was elected in 1841 to the Académie Francaise. This triumph was shadowed by the death of Hugo's daughter Léopoldine. She had married Charles Vacquerie in February 1843, and in September she drowned with her husband. In a poem, 'Tomorrow, At Daybreak', written on the fourth anniversary of her death, Hugo depicted his walk to the place where she was buried: "I shall not look on the gold of evening falling / Nor on the sails descending distant towards Harfleur, / And when I come, shall lay upon your grave / A bouquet of green holly and of flowering briar." It took a decade before Hugo published again books.

After Hugo was made a pair de France in 1845, he sat in the Upper Chamber among the lords. He also began to work with a new novel, first titled Jean Tréjean, then Les Misères. Following the 1848 revolution, with the formation of the Second Republic, Hugo was elected to the Constitutional Assembly and to the Legislative Assembly. When workers started to riot, he led soldiers who stormed barricades in brutal assaults.

When the coup d'état by Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) took place in 1851, Hugo believed his life to be in danger. "Louis-Napoléon is a traitor," he had declared. "He had violated the Constitution!" Hugo fled to Brussels and then to Jersey. When he was expelled from the island, he moved with his family to Guernsey in the English Channel. In a poem, 'Memory of the Night of the Fourth,' focusing on the overthrown of the Second Republic and the death of a young child, killed by bullets, Hugo wrote about the new emperor: "Ah mother, you don't understand politics. / Monsieur Napoleon, that's his real name, / Is poor and a prince; loves palaces; / Likes to have horses, valets, money / For his gaming, his table, his bedroom, / His hunts, and he maintains / Family, church and society, / He wants Saint-Clod, rose-carpeted in summer, So prefects and mayors can respect him. That's why it has to be this way: old grandmothers / With their poor gray fingers shaking with age / Must sew in winding-sheets children of seven." Hugo's partly voluntary exile lasted 20 years. During this time he wrote at Hauteville House some his best works, including Les Châtiments (1853, Castigations)  and Les Misérables (1862), an epic story about social injustice. Les Châtiments became one of the most popular forbidden poetry books.

Les Misérables is set in the Parisian underworld. The protagonist, Jean Valjean, is sentenced to prison for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. After his release, Valjean plans to rob monseigneur Myriel, a saintlike bishop, but cancels his plan. However, he forfeits his parole by committing a minor crime, and for this crime Valjean is haunted by the police inspector Javert. Valjean eventually reforms and becomes under the name of M. Madeleine a successful businessman, benefactor and mayor of a northern town. To save an innocent man, Valjean gives himself up and is imprisoned in Toulon. He escapes and adopts Cosette, an illegitimate child of a poor woman, Fantine. Cosette grows up and falls in love with Marius, who is wounded during a revolutionary fight. Valjean rescues Marius by means of a flight through the sewers of Paris. Cosette and Marius marries and Valjean reveals his past. - The story has been filmed several times and made into a musical by the composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and the librettist Alain Boublil, opening in 1980 in Paris. The English version was realised in 1985 and the Broadway version followed two years later.

Like other Romantic writers, Hugo was interested in Spiritism, and he experimented with table-tapping. After a number of fruitless efforts, his table gave him the final title of Les Misérables. Among Hugo's most ambitious works was an epic poem, La Fin de Satan, a study of Satan's fall and the history of the universe. Satan is presented more complex character than merely the embodiment of the Evil, but when Milton saw in Paradise Lost in Satan's revolt tragic, cosmic grandeur, Hugo brings forth the horror elements. The poem was never completed.

Although Napoleon III granted in 1859 an amnesty to all political exiles, Hugo did not take the bite. Les Misérables appeared with an international advertising campaign. The book divided critics but masses were enthusiastic. Pope Pius IX added it with Madame Bovary and all the novels of Stendhal and Balzac to the Index of Proscribed Books. Hugo's fleeting affairs with maids and country girls inspired his Les Chansons des rues et des bois (1865). "The creaking of a trestle bed / Is one of the sounds of paradise," he wrote. Hugo's daughter Adèle, whose apathy and unsociability caused him much worries, went after Lieutenant Albert Pinson to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where his regiment was stationed, and followed also him to Barbados. 

Les Travailleurs de la Mer (1866, Toilers of the Sea), about betrayal, love, and a passive suicide, became a bestseller, but has fallen into obscurity in the English-speaking world. Hugo himself never worked at sea. The first English editions were illustrated by Gustave Doré. Reviewing the book Henry James said that the "story is a very small one in spite of its enormous distensions and inflations." (Notes and Reviews, with a Preface by Pierre de Chaignon la Rose, 1921, pp. 188-189)

Not all of Hugo's works from this creative period were critically and commercially successful. One of them was L'Homme qui rit (1869, The Man Who Laughs), the story of a boy called Gwynplaine, set in the 18th century England. The title character has been abducted in his infancy by a band of Comprachicos (child-buyers), whose surgeon has cut off his lips and slit his mouth from ear to ear. Allegedly the disfigured face provided inspiration for the Joker's perpetual grin in Bob Kane's Batman comics. Kane recalled in his autobiography Batman and Me (1989), that his collaborator Bill Finger, an early uncredited Batman writer, had a copy of a photoplay edition of the 1928 silent film adaptation of the novel, with photos of Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine. (The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime, edited by Robert Moses Peaslee and Robert G. Weiner, 2015, p. 97) Noteworthy, Hugo's tragic hero is not a monster, or a villain, but eventually turns out to be actually a peer of England, who after taking his rightful seat in the House of Lords, defends the rights of the poor.

Adèle Hugo's biography of her husband appeared in 1863; she died in 1868. Political upheavals in France and the proclamation of the Third Republic made Hugo return to France. The unpopular Napoleon III fell from power the Republic was proclaimed. In 1870 Hugo witnessed the siege of Paris. "There is only enough sugar in Paris for ten days," he wrote in his diary on 8 October. "Meat rationing began today." During the period of the Paris Commune of 1871, Hugo lived in Brussels, from where he was expelled for sheltering defeated revolutionaries. Hugo's attitude to the Commune was ambivalent: "An admirable thing, stupidly compromised by five or six deplorable ringleaders."

After a short time refuge in Luxemburg, he returned to Paris and was elected as a senator of Paris in 1876. Sexually he was still active and his maid, Blanche Lanvin, was the constant target of his passions, but not the only one. "Take care not to wound that tender heart and great soul," he wrote in his diary, to remember himself of his principal mistress, Juliette Drouet. Hugo told Blance that penis was a lyre, "and only poets know how to play them." After an exhaustive period with her, Hugo suffered a mild stroke in June 1878. The infuriated Juliette, his faithful companion form the 1830s, wrote to her nephew: "You must try to track down the creature [Blanche] who has destroyed my happiness.."

Victor Hugo died in Paris on May 22, 1885. His last words were: "I see black light." Hugo was given a national funeral, attended by two million people, and buried in the Panthéon. Representatives of most European countries came to the ceremony. The critic Roger Shattuck wrote in The Banquet Years: The Arts in France 1885-1918 (rev. ed. 1968) that "By this orgiastic ceremony France unburdened itself of a man, a literary movement, and century."

For further reading: Victor Hugo Raconté par un Témoin de sa Vie, avec des Oeuvres Inédites, entre autres un Drame en Trois Actes: Iñez de Castro by Adèle Hugo (1863); Victor Hugo, a Realistic Biography by Matthew Josephson (1942); Olympio: The Life of Victor Hugo by André Maurois (1954); Victor Hugo romancier; ou, Les Dessus de l'inconnu by Georges Pironué (1964); Victor Hugo by John P. Houston (1975); Extraordinary House of Victor Hugo in Guernsey by A.D. Chauvel and M. Forestier (1975); Victor Hugo by Joanna Richardson (1976); Victor Hugo and the Visionary Novel by Victor Brombert (1984); Paroles de Hugo by Anne Ubersfeld (1985); The Impresonal Sublime by Suzanne Guerlac (1990); Victor Hugo, ed. by Harold Bloom (1991); "Les Miserables": Conversion, Revolution, Redemption by Kathryn M. Grossman (1996); Victor Hugo: A Biography by Graham Robb (1998); Victor Hugo Encyclopedia by John A. Frey (1998); Victor Hugo and the Romantic Drama by Albert W. Halsall (1998); Victor Hugo. Avant l'exil 1802-1851 by Jean-Marc Hovasse (2002); Victor Hugo, un révolutionnaire by Jean-François Kahn (2002); Les misérables and Its Afterlives: Between Page, Stage, and Screen, edited by Kathryn M. Grossman and Bradley Stephens (2015); The Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos (2017); Capital Letters: Hugo, Baudelaire, Camus, and the Death Penalty by Ève Morisi (2020); Dictionnaire Victor Hugo, edited by Claude Millet and David Charles (2023) - Museum: Maison de Victor Hugo, 6 Place des Vosges, the Marais, 75004 - Hugo's house in Paris for 17 years, restored to its original character.  See also: Alfred de Vigny

Selected works:

  • Le Château du Diable, 1812 (written)
  • Irtamène, 1816 (tragedy)
  • A quelque chose malheur est bon, 1817 (comic opera)
  • Inez de Castro, 1819-20 (play)
  • Odes et poésies diverses, 1822
  • Han d'Islande, 1823
    - Hans of Iceland (tr. anonymously,  etchings by George Cruickshank, 1825; A. Langdon Alger, 1897; John Chesterfield, 1894; Huntington Smith, 1896) / Hans of Iceland; or, The Demon of the North (tr. J.T. Hudson, 1843) / The Demon Dwarf (tr. 1847) / The Outlaw of Iceland (tr. Gilbert Campbell, 1885)
  • Nouvelles Odes, 1824
  • Odes et Ballades, 1826
    - Odes and Ballads (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001; Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001)
  • Bug-Jargal, 1826
    - The Slave-King (tr. anonymously 1833) / Bug-Jargal (tr. anon. 1844; Chris Bongie) / The Noble Rival (tr. 1845) / Jargal (tr. Charles E. Wilbour, 1866) / Told Under Canvas (tr. Gilbert Campbell, 1886)
  • Cromwell, 1828 (play)
    - Oliver Cromwell (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1896)
  • Amy Robsart, 1828 (play; produced, published 1889)
    - Amy Robsart (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1896) / Amy Robsart: A Drama in Five Acts (tr. Ethel Turner Blair and Evelyn Blair, 1933)
  • Les Orientales, 1829
    - Orientalia (translation by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001; Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001)
  • Marion de Lorme, 1829 (play; prod. 1831)
    - Marion de Lorme (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1895; Richard F. Hand et al., in Victor Hugo: Four Plays, 2004)
  • Le Dernier Jour d'un condamné, 1829
    - The Last Day of a Condemned Man (tr. P. Hesketh Fleetwood, 1840; Arabella Ward, 1896; Metcalfe Wood, 1931) / Under Sentence of Death; or, A Criminal's Last Hours (tr. Gilbert Campbell, 1886) / The Last Days of a Condemned (tr. G.W.M. Reynolds, 1840) / The Last Days of a Condemned Man (tr. Geoff Woollen, 1992)
    - Kuolemaantuomitun viimeinen päivä (suom. Urho Kivimäki, 1917; Aki Räsänen, 2020)
  • Hernani, 1830 (play)
    - Hernani (tr. Lord Gower, 1830; I.G. Burnham, 1894; Frederick L. Slous and Camilla Crosland, 1924; Richard F. Hand et al., in Victor Hugo: Four Plays, 2004 )
    - films: 1910, dir. Albert Capellani; 1911, dir. Louis J. Gasnier; 1982 Ernani (television production), dir.  Preben Montel, starring Plácido Domingo, Renato Bruson; 1983, Ernani (television production), dir. Kirk Browning, starring Luciano Pavarotti, Leona Mitchell
  • Les Feuilles d'automne, 1831
    - Autumn Leaves (translation by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001; Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001)
  • Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831
    - Notre Dame de Paris (tr. A. Langdon Alger, 1832(?); Isabel F. Hapgood, 1888; Jessie Haynes; M. Dupres, 1902;  Alban Krailsheimer, 2009) / The Hunchback of Notre Dame (tr. Frederic Shoberl, 1833; Henry Llewellyn Williams, 1862; Lowell Blair, 1892; Walter J. Cobb, 2001;  Isabel Roche, edited byGeorge Stade, 2008) / La Esmeralda (tr. 1844) / Notre Dame of Paris (tr. J. Carroll Beckwith, 1892; John Sturrock, 1978)
    - Pariisin Notre-Dame (suom. Huugo Jalkanen, 1915) / Notre-Damen kellonsoittaja (suom. Anna-Liisa Sohlberg, 1945)
    - films: 1905, Esmeralda, dir. Alice Guy, Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset, starring Denise Becker; 1923, dir. Wallace Worsley, starring Lon Chaney; 1939, dir. William Dieterle, starring Charles Lauaghton and Maureen O'Hara; 1956, dir. Jean Delannoy, starring Gina Lollobrigida and Anthony Quinn; television film 1982, dir. Michael Tuchner, starring Anthony Hopkins; animation (Disney Production); 1996, dir. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, voices of Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Kevin Kline; 1997, The Hunchback, dir. Peter Medak, starring Salma Hayek, Mandy Patinkin, Richard Harris and Edward Atterton; 1997, dir.  Bille August; 1999, Quasimodo d'El Paris, dir. Patrick Timsit, starring Patrick Timsit, Mélanie Thierry, Richard Berry
  • Le roi s'amuse, 1832 (play)
    - The King's Fool (tr. H.T. Haley, 1842) / The King's Diversion (tr.  Frederick L. Slous and Camilla Crosland, 1887) / His Kingly Pleasure (tr. Edward John Harding, 1902) / The King Enjoys Himself (tr. Theo. M.R. von Kéler, 1925) / The Prince's Play (tr. Tony Harrison, 1996)
    - films: 1909, Rigoletto, dir. Giovanni Pastrone; 1909, A Fool's Revenge, dir. D.W. Griffith; 1909, The Duke's Jester or A Fool's Revenge, dir. J. Stuart Blackton; 1909, dir. by Albert Capellani & Michel Carré; 1909, Rigoletto, dir. André Calmettes; 1918, Der König amüsiert sich, dir. Jacob Fleck& Luise Fleck, starring Wilhelm Klitsch, Hermann Benke, Liane Haid; 1927, Rogoletto, dir. H.B. Parkinson, starring Herbert Langley, A.B. Imeson; 1944, El Rey se divierte, dir. Fernando de Fuentes; 1946, Rigoletto, dir. Carmine Gallone, starring Tito Gobbi; 1982, Rigoletto, dir. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, starring Ingvar Wixell, Luciano Pavarotti, Edita Gruberova; 1993, Mest shuta , dir. Boris Blank
  • Lucrèce Borgia, 1833 (play)
    - Lucretia Borgia (tr. W.T. Haley, 1842); Lucrezia Borgia (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1896) / Lucrece Borgia (Richard F. Hand et al., in Victor Hugo: Four Plays, 2004 )
    - Lucrezia Borgia (suom. Juhani Aho, 1907)
  • Marie Tudor, 1833 (play)
    - Mary Tudor (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1896)
  • Claude Gueux, 1834
  • Étude sur Mirabeau, 1834
  • Littérature et philosophie mêlées, 1834
  • Les Chants du crépuscule, 1835
    - Songs of Twilight (tr. George W.M. Reyolds, 1836) / The Songs of Daybreak (translations by Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001) / Songs of the Half-Light (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Angelo, tyran de Padoue, 1835 (play)
    - Angelo; or, The Tyrant of Padua (tr. 1855) / Angelo and the Actress of Padua (tr. G.H. Davidson, 1855) /  Angelo, Tyrant of Padua (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1896) 
  • La Esmeralda, 1836 (libretto)
    - Esmeralda (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1895)
  • Les Voix intérieures, 1837
    - Inner Voices (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001; Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001)
  • Ruy Blas, 1838 (play)
    - Ruy Blas (tr. Camilla Crosland, 1887; Frederic Lyster; 1894; I.G. Burnham, 1895; Brian Hooker; Richard F. Hand et al., in Victor Hugo: Four Plays, 2004 )
    - films: 1909, dir. J. Stuart Blackton; 1915, Don Caesar de Bazan, dir. Robert G. Vignola, starring Lawson Butt; 1948, dir. Pierre Billon, starring Jean Marais, Danielle Darrieux, Marcel Herrand; 1972 (television film), dir. Raymond Rouleau, starring François Beaulieu, Claude Winter, Jean Piat, Paul-Emile Deiber; 2002 (television film), dir. Jacques Weber, starring Xavier Gallais, Gérard Depardieu, Jacques Weber, Carole Bouquet
  • Les Jumeaux, 1839 (written, published 1889)
  • Les Rayons et les Ombres, 1840
    - Sunbeams and Shadows (translations by Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001) / Sunlight and Shadows (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Le Rhin: lettres à un ami, 1841
    - The Rhine; a Tour from Paris to Mayence by the Way of Aix-la-Chapelle (tr. D.M. Aird, 1843) / Excursions Along the Banks of the Rhine (tr. 1843) / The Story of the Bold Pecopin (tr. Eleanor and Augustine Birrell, 1902)
  • Les Burgraves, 1843 (play)
    - The Burgraves (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1896)
  • Congres de la Paix a Paris, 1849 (address)
    - The United States of Europe (tr. 1914)
  • Napoléon le Petit, 1852
    - Napoleon the Little (tr. 1852; George Burnham Ives, 1909) / The Destroyer of the Second Republic; Being Napoleon the Little (translated by a clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal churchman, 1870)
  • Les Châtiments, 1853
    - Punishments (translated by Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001) / The Empire in the Pillory (translated by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • La forêt mouillée, 1854 (comedy, published 1886)
  • Lettres à Louis Bonaparte, 1855
  • Les Contemplations, 1856
    - Contemplations (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001; Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001)
  • La Légende des Siècles I-II, 1859-1883 (ed. P. Berret, 6 vols., 1920-1927)
    - The Legend of the Centuries (translated by George S. Burleigh, 1867; translations by Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001) / The Legend of the Ages (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Les Misérables, 1862
    - Les Misérables (tr.  Charles E. Wilbour, 1862; Lascelles Wraxall, 1862; Isabel F. Hapgood, 1887; William Walton et al. 1892-93; Norman Denny, 1976, Julie Rose, introduction by Adam Gopnik, notes by James Madden, 2008)
    - Yhteiskunnan onnettomat (suom. J.J., 1896-97) / Kurjat (suom. Vihtori Lehtonen, 1908; Eino Voionmaa, 1928-31)
    - films: 1909, dir. J. Stuart Blacton, starring Maurice Costello, William V. Ranous; 1935, dir. Richard Boleslawski, starring Fredric March and Charles Laughton; 1952, dir. Lewis Milestone, starring Michael Rennie and Debra Paget; 1952, dir. Riccardo Freda, starring Gino Cervi and Valentina Cortesa; 1957, dir. Jean-Paul Le Chanois, starring Jean Gabin and Daniele Delorme, television film 1978, dir.  Glenn Jordan, starring Richard Jordan, Anthony Perkins, Claude Dauphin; 1995, dir.  Claude Lelouch, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Michael Boujenah; 1998, dir. Billie August, starring Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman. - Musical versions: 1980 (Paris) by the composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and the librettist Alain Boublil; 1985 (London) with the Really Useful Company of Andrew Lloyd Webber; New York (1987), with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The New York production won Alain Boublil two Tony Awards; 2012, dir. by Tom Hooper, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen; based on the musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel, Herbert Kretzmer (1985)
  • L'Archipel de la Manche, 1863
    - The Channel Islands (tr. Isabel Hapgood, in The Toilers of the Sea, includes 'The Channel Islands' and 'The Sea and the Wind,' introd. by Matthew Josephson, 1961; J.W. Watson, 1985)  
  • William Shakespeare, 1864
    - William Shakespeare (tr.  Melville B. Anderson, 1886)
  • Les Chansons des rues et des bois, 1865
    - Songs of the Streets and the Woods (translated by Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001) / Songs of Street and Wood (translated by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • La Gran'Mère, 1865
  • L'intervention, 1866 (comedy, published 1934)
  • Mille francs de récompense, 1866 (written, published 1934)
  • Les Travailleurs de la mer, 1866
    - The Toilers of the Sea (tr. W. Moy Thomas, 1860; Isabel F. Hapgood, 1880; Mary W. Artois, 1892, James Hogarth, 2002) / The Workers of the Sea (tr. Gilbert Campbell, 1887)
    - Meren ahertajat (suom. Olli Nuorto, 1950)
    - films: 1918, dir. André Antoine and Léonard Antoine, starring Armand Tallier, Marc Gérard, Charles Mosnier; 1919, The Toilers, dir. Tom Watts, screenplay by R.C. Sherriff, starring George Dewhurst, Ronald Colman, Manora Thew, Gwynne Herbert; 1923, Toilers of the Sea, dir. Roy William Neill, starring Horace Tesseron, Holmes Herbert, Dell Cawley, Lucy Fox; 1936, Toilers of the Sea, dir. Selwyn Jepson, starring Andrews Engelmann, Cyril McLaglen; 1953, Sea Devils, dir. Raoul Walsh, starring Rock Hudson, Yvonne De Carlo, Maxwell Reed
  • La Voix de Guernesey, 1867
  • Mangeront-ils?, 1867 (comedy in verse, published 1886)
  • L'Homme qui rit, 1869
    - The Man Who Laughs (tr. William Young, 1896; Isabel F. Hapgood, 1888) / By Order of the King (3 vols., tr. Mrs. A.C. Steele, 1870) / The Laughing Man (tr. 1887; Bellina Phillips, 1894)
    - Nauruihminen (suom. Kai Kaila, 1946) / Nauruihminen: Victor Hugon romaanin pohjalta valmistettu näytelmä (vuorosanat valikoineet ja kirjoittamalla valmistaneet Arto af Hällström, Raila Leppäkoski, Jouni Tommola, 1981)
    - films: 1921, Das Grisende Gesicht, dir. Julius Herska, starring Franz Höbling, Lucienne Delacroix, Nora Gregor, Anna Kallina; 1927, dir.  Paul Leni, starring Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin; 1966, L'Uomo che ride, dir. Sergio Corbucci, screenplay by A. Bertolotto
  • Torquemada, 1869 (play; written, published 1882)
    - Torquemada (tr. I.G. Burnham, 1896)
  • Welf, castellan d'Osbor, 1869 (play)
  • Esca, 1869 (play)
  • L'Epée, 1869
  • L'Homme qui rit, 1869
  • L'Année terrible, 1872
    - The Horrific Year (translations by Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001) / The Year of Horrors (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Quatrevingt-treize, 1874
    - Ninety-Three (tr. Frank Lee Benedict and J. Hain Friswell, 1874; Gilbert Campbell, 1886; Alino Delano, 1888; Helen B. Dole, 1888; Jules Gray, 1894; Lowell Blair, 1962) / '93 (tr. E.B. d'Espinville Picot, 1874)
    - Yhdeksänkymmentäkolme: romaani Ranskan vallankumouksesta (suom. V. Hämeen-Anttila ja Urho Kivimäki, 1947)
  • L'Art d'être grand-père, 1877
    - The Art of Being a Grandfather (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001; Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001)
  • Histoire d'un crime, 1877-78
    - History of a Crime; Testimony of an Eyewitness (tr. T.H. Joyce and Arthur Locker, 4 vols., 1877-1878)
  • Le Pape, 1878
  • Le discours pour Voltaire, 1878
    - Oration on Voltaire (tr. James Parton, 1883)
  • La Pitié suprême, 1879
  • Religions et religion, 1880
  • L'Âne, 1880
  • Les Deux Trouvailles de Gallus, 1881 (play)
  • Margarita, 1881 (comedy)
  • Les Quatre Vents de l'esprit, 1881
    - The Four Winds of the Spirit (translated by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Torquemada, 1882 (play)
  • L'Archipel de la Manche, 1883
  • Œuvres, 1885-97
  • Théâtre en liberté, 1886
  • La Fin de Satan, 1886
    - The End of Satan (translated by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001; Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001)
  • The Works of Victor Hugo, 1887 (5 vols., translated by Frederick L. Slous and Camilla Crosland)
  • Dramatic Works of Victor Hugo, 1887 (translated by Frederick L. Slous and Camilla Crosland)
  • Choses vues, 1887-1900 (2 vols.)
    - Things Seen (2 vols., tr. 1887)
  • Toute la Lyre, 1888-93
    - All the Lyre (translations by Steven Monte, in Selected Poems, 2001) / The Whole Lyre (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Alpes et Pyrénées, 1890
    - The Alps and Pyrenees (tr. John Manson, 1898)
  • Dieu, 1891
    - God (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • France et Belgique, 1892
  • Dramas, 1895-96 (10 vols., tr.  I.G. Burnham)
  • Correspondance 1815-82, 1896-98
  • Les Années funestes, 1898
    - The Fateful Years (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Memoires, 1899
    - Memoirs (tr. John W. Harding, 1899)
  • Post-scriptum de ma vie, 1901
    - Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography (tr. Lorenzo O’Rourke, 1907)
  • Lettres à la fiancée, 1820-22, 1901
  • Dernière Gerbe, 1902
    - Last Gleanings (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Œuvres complètes, 1904-52 (45 vols., ed. P. Meurice, G. Simon, et al.)
  • Correspondance entre Victor Hugo et Paul Meurice, 1909 (preface by Jules S.Gaudon)
  • Les Contemplations, 1922 (3 vols., ed. J. Vianey)
  • Océan, 1942
    - Ocean (translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, in Selected Poems of Victor Hugo, 2001)
  • Correspondance, 1947-52 (4 vols., ed. C. Daubray, part of Oeuvres Complètes, 1904-52)
  • Carnets intimes, 1870-1871, 1953 (ed. H. Guillermin)
  • Poésies Complètes, 1961
  • Œuvres romanesques complètes, 1962
  • Théâtre complet, 1963-64 (2 vols. edited by Roland Purnal) 
  • Romans de V. Hugo, 1963 (3 vols., ed. Henri Guillemin)
  • Œuvres poétiques, 1964-74 (3 vols., ed. Pierre Albouy)
  • Œuvres politiques complètes. Oeuvres diverses, 1964 (ed.  Francis Bouvet)
  • Lettres à Juliette Drouet, 1833-1883, 1964 (ed. . Jean Gaudon)
  • Boîte aux lettres, 1965 (ed. R. Journet and G. Roberts)
  • Journal de ce que j'apprends chaque jour, 1965
  • Oeuvres complètes: édition chronologique, 1967-71 (18 vols., ed. Jean Massin)
  • Choses vues / souvenirs, journaux, cahiers, 1870-1885, 1972 (ed. H. Juin)
  • Littérature et philosophie mêlées, 1976 ( vols., ed. A.R.W. James)
  • Œuvres complètes, 1985-90 (15 vols., ed. Jacques Seebacher and Guy Rosa)
  • Correspondance croisée, 1986 (with Charles Nodier)
  • Correspondance familiale et écrits intimes, 1988, 1991 (2 vols., eds. J. and S. Gaudon and B. Leuilliot)
  • "Lettres de Victor Hugo à Léonie Biard, 1990 (ed. J. Caudon)
  • Lettres inédites de Juliette Drouet à Victor Hugo (1873), 1992 (ed. T. Bodin)
  • Conversations with Eternity: The Forgotten Masterpiece of Victor Hugo, 1998  (translated with a commentary by John Chambers)
  • Lettres de Juliette Drouet à Victor Hugo - Lettres de Victor Hugo à Juliette Drouet, 2001 (ed. Jean Gaudon)
  • Ecrits politiques: anthologie, 2001 (ed. Franck Laurent)
  • Choses Vues: Souvenirs, Journaux, Cahiers, 1830-1885, 2001 (ed. Hubert Juin)
  • L'Art d'être grand-père, 2002 (ed. Pierre Alboy, originally published 1877)
    - How to be a Grandfather (tr. Timothy Adès, 2002)
  • The Essential Victor Hugo, 2004 (new translations with an introduction and notes by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore)
  • Victor Hugo à Guernesey: exil et asile, 2013 (edited by Chantal Brière, photographs by Frédéric Leguetteur)
  • Une amitié capitale: correspondance Victor Hugo-Alexandre Dumas, 2015 (edited by Claude Schopp)
  • Satan and His Daughter, the Angel Liberty: Selected Verses from La Fin de Satan, 2019 (illustrations by Odilon Redon; translation by R.G. Skinner)
  • Les Misérables: An Engaging Visual Journey, 2021 (illustrated by Jill De Haan, Margaret Ferrec, and Chiara Fedele; abridged by Terri and Jim Kraus)

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