La Légende des siècles
La Légende des siècles is a collection of poems by Victor Hugo, conceived as an immense depiction of the history and evolution of humanity. Written intermittently between 1855 and 1876 while Hugo worked in exile on numerous other projects, the poems were published in three series in 1859, 1877, 1883. Bearing witness to the unparalleled poetic talent evident in all Hugo's art, the Légende des Siècles is considered the only true French epic and, according to Baudelaire's formulation, the only modern epic possible; the dreaming poet contemplates the "wall of the centuries," indistinct and terrible, on which scenes of the past and future are drawn, along which the whole long procession of humanity can be seen. The poems are depictions of these scenes, fleetingly perceived and interspersed with terrifying visions. Hugo exhaustiveness; as he proclaims in the preface to the first series, "this is history, eavesdropped upon at the door of legend." The poems, by turns lyrical and satirical, form a view of the human experience, seeking less to summarize than to illustrate the history of humanity, to bear witness to its long journey from the darkness into the light.
La Légende des Siècles was not conceived as the vast work it was to become. Its beginning, the original seed, was in a vague project entitled Petites Epopées, which features in the notes and jottings of Hugo from 1848, which gives no indication of so vast an ambition. After Les Châtiments and Les Contemplations, his editor, was perturbed by the submission of La Fin de Satan and Dieu, both of which were nearly complete. Seeing that Hugo was ready to proceed yet further down the metaphysical road mapped out by the final Contemplations, Hetzel became anxious at the probability of their failure with the public, preferred the sound of the Petites Epopées which Hugo had mentioned, feeling they would be more in harmony with the spirit of the times. Though these "epics" were still no more than sketches, in March 1857 Hetzel wrote to Hugo, rejecting Fin de Satan and Dieu, but accepting with enthusiasm the Petites Epopées; this new commission was transformed by the influence of Hugo's latest ideas and most recent works, created with the same dash and fire and in a sort of magma of inspiration: a mixture of poesy and philosophy, characteristic of Hugo's first decade of exile.
This inspiration led him to write a large number of poems, more or less brief, which would be published as components in projects which were shifting and evolving. In this case Hugo integrated the little epics into his poetical system by casting them as the "human" panel in a triptych of which "God" and "Satan" were the wings, with the implication that they were sparse fragments stolen from a greater epic: the whole of human experience itself. On 11 September 1857 Hugo signed a contract with Hetzel, reserving the right to alter the project's title. Hetzel pronounced himself willing to publish La Fin de Satan and Dieu, he began by taking the French Revolution as the turning point in human history, intending to use a poem entitled La Révolution as a pivot around which La Pitié Suprême or Le Verso de la page would revolve. More titles were written down, but some were discarded or altered, the section dealing with the 19th century coalesced as L'Océan — La Révolution — le Verso de la page — la Pitié Suprême — Les Pauvres Gens — L'épopée de l'Âne.
Hetzel followed this evolution with alarm, fearing that the great philosophical questions would turn these little epics into towering giants, endeavoured to temper Hugo's ardour. After a serious illness in the summer of 1858, Hugo tried to reassure Hetzel by writing in a more straightforwardly narrative vein, modified his plans—but retained the general ambition, which he declared in a preface, he had hit on the idea of publishing in several instalments, to give himself more time and space within which to work. The title was not decided on until a month after the manuscript's submission. With his gift for phrases, Hugo came up with La Légende des Siècles. Petites Épopées was kept as a subtitle; the first series was published in two volumes on 26 September 1859 in Brussels. In exile, Hugo dedicated it to his home country: Livre, qu'un vent t'emporte En France, où je suis né! L'arbre déraciné Donne sa feuille morte; the framing of the series is resolutely Biblical: opening with Eve and closing on La trompette du jugement, the classical world is forgotten.
Several poems dating from 1857–58 were set aside for a future continuation. Préface I. D'Ève à Jésus II. Décadence de Rome III. L'Islam IV. Le Cycle Héroïque Chrétien V. Les Chevaliers Errants VI. Les Trônes d'Orient VII. L'Italie — Ratbert VIII. Seizième siècle — Renaissance. Paganisme IX. La Rose de l'Infante X. L'Inquisition
Hernani is a drama by the French romantic author Victor Hugo. The title originates from Hernani, a Spanish town in the Southern Basque Country, where Hugo’s mother and her three children stopped on their way to General Hugo’s place of residence; the play was given its premiere on 25 February 1830 by the Comédie-Française in Paris. Today, it is more remembered for the demonstrations which accompanied the first performance and for being the inspiration for Verdi's opera Ernani than it is for its own merits. Hugo had enlisted the support of fellow Romanticists such as Hector Berlioz and Théophile Gautier to combat the opposition of Classicists who recognised the play as a direct attack on their values, it is used to describe the magnitude and elegance of Prince Prospero's masquerade in Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "The Masque of the Red Death". Gillenormand in Les Misérables criticizes Hernani. Giuseppe Verdi's opera Ernani, with an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, was based on the play, first performed in Venice in 1844.
Set in a fictitious version of the Spanish court of 1519, it is based on courtly romance and intrigues. Three men — two noblemen and a mysterious bandit — are in love with the same woman. What follows in the ensuing chaos of action prompted the biographer of Hugo, J. P. Houston, to write "... and a résumé will fail, as in the case of Notre-Dame de Paris, to suggest anything like the involution of its details". In the first scenes Hugo introduces Don Carlos, King of Spain sneaking into the bedchamber of Doña Sol, he forces her maid to help conceal him within the room. Shortly thereafter, Doña Sol enters to welcome her lover Hernani. Hernani and Sol discuss their situation − Doña Sol is about to be forced to marry her elderly uncle, Hernani is a bandit whose father was executed by the previous King. Hernani and Doña Sol plot to run away together, but Don Carlos emerges from the cabinet where he was hiding, disrupting them; the two men clash are interrupted by Sol's uncle and fiancé Don Ruy Gomez de Silva.
He demands to know. Don Carlos reveals his identity, asserts that he had come hoping to meet Ruy Gomez to discuss the recent death of Emperor Maximilian, claims that Hernani is a member of his entourage, thereby allowing everyone to leave peacefully. Don Carlos had overheard Sol and Hernani's plans to run away together, accompanied with some aristocratic friends he appears at the rendezvous point, hoping to seduce Sol in Hernani's place. Doña Sol rejects him. Infuriated, Don Carlos attempts to abduct her; as Don Carlos and Doña Sol struggle over a dagger, Hernani arrives with his own sixty men having overtaken the king's three friends. He explains his hatred for the king over the death of his own father, challenges Don Carlos to a duel; this time, the King is aware of Hernani's identity as a bandit, he refuses a duel, but challenges Hernani to murder him. Hernani's sense of honor prevents him from attacking a man; the King escapes, sends his men to arrest Hernani and his band of thieves. Hernani escapes after a farewell to Doña Sol.
Doña Sol and Ruy Gomez prepare for their wedding, hear news that Hernani's men have all been murdered. Hernani arrives at the house in disguise, Ruy Gomez takes him in as a guest. Hernani − suicidal − reveals his identity and tries to provoke the servants to arrest him, but Ruy Gomez still insists on protecting him. Hernani admonishes Doña Sol for agreeing to the marriage, but when she reveals that she plans to kill herself on the wedding night, he has a change of heart and encourages her to accept the match. Ruy Gomez is appalled to learn of Sol and Hernani's relationship, considering it a betrayal of his hospitality, but he still continues his protection; the King arrives to arrest Hernani, but Ruy Gomez refuses to surrender him, citing laws of hospitality, which, he asserts, protect his guests from the King. The King threatens Ruy Gomez, Doña Sol intercedes for him; the King abducts Doña Sol. Alone, Ruy Gomez releases Hernani intending to fight him to the death. Hernani secures his promise by giving Ruy Gomez a horn to blow to announce the moment when Hernani should die.
Two months in June 1519, in Aachen, Don Carlos is awaiting the results of the imperial election while thwarting a conspiracy. The latter, appointed to assassinate the king, refuses to give way to Don Ruy Gomez, who asks him to break the pact. Don Carlos is elected emperor, he announces the marriage of Doña Sol to Hernani. Hernani reveals his true identity: he is John of Aragon, noble but born in exile. Sol and Hernani are married, but, as they enjoy their wedding feast, Hernani hears the call of the horn blown by Ruy Gomez; as Hernani is about to drink poison, Doña Sol enters the room and tries to convince him that he is hers and he does not have to listen to her uncle. She is unable to persuade him otherwise. Doña Sol, shocked by Hernani's decision to kill himself, drinks half of the poison. Hernani drinks the other half and they die in each other's arms. Ruy Gomez de Silva kills himself. Don Carlos is a fictionalized version of the real King Carlos I Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, Duke of Pastrana, gets his name from an actual duke by that name, though the fictional version is an old
Ruy Blas is a tragic drama by Victor Hugo. It was the first play presented at the Théâtre de la Renaissance and opened on November 8, 1838. Though considered by many to be Hugo’s best drama, the play met with only average success. Ruy Blas Don Salluste de Bazan, Marquis of Finlas Don César de Bazan, Count Of Garofa Don Guritan The Count of Camporeal The Marquis of Santa-Cruz The Marquis of Basto The Count of Albe The Marquis of Priego Don Manuel Arias Montazgo Don Antonio Ubilla Covadenga Gudiel Doña Maria de Neubourg, Queen of Spain The Duchess of Albuquerque Casilda A lackey, an alcalde, pages, lords, privy councillors, guards and court bailiffs The scene is Madrid. Ruy Blas, an indentured commoner, dares to love the Queen; the play is a thinly veiled cry for political reform. The story centers around a practical joke played on the Queen Maria de Neubourg, by Don Salluste de Bazan, in revenge for being scorned by her. Knowing that one of his slaves, Ruy Blas, has secretly fallen in love with the Queen, having failed to enlist the aid of his scapegrace but chivalrous cousin, Don César, in his scheme, Don Salluste disguises Blas as a nobleman and takes him to court.
Intelligent and generous, Blas becomes popular, is appointed prime minister, begins useful political and fiscal reforms, conquers the queen's heart. A long speech, 101 lines, in which he contrasts the sordid struggle for sinecures in a decaying monarchy with the glories of Emperor Charles V, is notable. Don Salluste returns to take his revenge; the Queen and Ruy Blas are betrayed into a compromising situation by Don Salluste, when Don César threatens to frustrate his revenge, ruthlessly sacrifices his cousin to his injured vanity. Don Salluste discloses the masquerade by cruelly humiliating Blas – he commands Blas to close the window and pick up his handkerchief, while trying to explain the condition of Spanish politics. Blas decides to commit suicide with poison. At his dying moment, he is forgiven by the queen who declares her love for him. Hugo says he began to write the play on 4 July 1838; the play has, except for the dénouement and perplexing likeness to Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The Lady of Lyons, first acted on 14 February 1838.
The idea of a valet set by a scorned lover to woo a fine lady had been turned to dramatic account in Molière's Les Précieuses ridicules. Hugo used Henri de Latouche's La Reine d'Espagne. In his inaccurate autobiography, Victor Hugo raconté par un témoin de sa vie, Hugo notes as sources for the play Madame d'Aulnoy's Memoirs de la cour d'Espagne, Relation du voyage d'Espagne, Alonso Nuñez de Castro's Solo Madrid es corte and Jean de Vayrac's État présent d'Espagne. Felix Mendelssohn, after reading the play, was commissioned to write a Concert Overture based on it, his Opus 95. Maxime de Redon created a parody, Ruy Brac, first performed in 1838 Maxime de Redon des Chapelles Irish actor and dramatist Edmund Falconer translated Ruy Blas in 1858, it was performed at the Princess Theatre, London, in late 1858. W. S. Gilbert wrote a burlesque of the play, by the same name, in Warne's Christmas Annual for 1866. An opera of the same name, by Filippo Marchetti with a libretto by Carlo d'Ormeville was produced at La Scala in Milan in 1869.
A musical comedy, Ruy Blas and the Blasé Roué, by A. C. Torr and Herbert F. Clark with music by Meyer Lutz, premiered in 1889. A 1947 movie, again called Ruy Blas, was directed by Pierre Billon, adapted by Jean Cocteau, starring Jean Marais, Danielle Darrieux and Marcel Herrand. A 1971 movie, La folie des grandeurs, directed by Gérard Oury, adapted by Danièle Thomson, starring Alice Sapritch, Louis de Funès and Yves Montand, is based on the play, it formed the basis for a 2002 telefilm by Jacques Weber, again called Ruy Blas. Eminently actable verse translation published by Oberon Books by David Bryer - recommended. Don César de Bazan Maritana Holden, The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4 Information about the background of the play on hugo-online Lancaster, H. Carrington. "The Genesis of Ruy Blas" in Modern Philology, Vol. 14, No. 11, pp. 641–46 Media related to Ruy Blas at Wikimedia Commons
The Last Day of a Condemned Man
The Last Day of a Condemned Man is a short novel by Victor Hugo first published in 1829. The novel recounts the thoughts of a man condemned to die. Victor Hugo wrote this novel to express his feelings. Victor Hugo saw several times the spectacle of the guillotine and was angered at the spectacle that society can make of it, it was the day after crossing the "Place de l'Hotel de Ville" where an executioner was greasing the guillotine in anticipation of a scheduled execution that Hugo began writing The Last Day of a Condemned Man. He finished quickly; the book was published in February 1829 by Charles Gosselin without the author's name. Three years on 15 March 1832, Hugo completed his story with a long preface and his signature. A man, condemned to death by the guillotine in 19th-century France writes down his cogitations and fears while awaiting his execution, his writing traces his change in psyche vis-a-vis the world outside the prison cell throughout his imprisonment, describes his life in prison, everything from what his cell looks like to the personality of the prison priest.
He does not betray his name or what he has done to the reader, though he vaguely hints that he has killed someone. On the day he is to be executed he sees his three-year-old daughter for the last time, but she no longer recognizes him, she tells him that her father is dead; the novel ends just after he but begs for pardon and curses the people of his time, the people he hears outside, screaming impatiently for the spectacle of his decapitation. Le Dernier Jour d'un Condamné at Project Gutenberg The Last Day of a Condemned public domain audiobook at LibriVox
Hauteville House is a house where Victor Hugo lived during his exile from France, located at 38 Rue Hauteville in St. Peter Port in Guernsey. In March 1927, the centenary year of Romanticism, Hugo's descendents Jeanne, Jean and François donated the house to the City of Paris, it houses an honorary consul to the French embassy at London and a Victor Hugo museum. Built around 1800 by an English privateer, the house came into the possession of William Ozanne, it gained the reputation of being haunted by the spirit of a woman who had committed suicide, remained unoccupied for several years. Victor Hugo arrived in Guernsey in October 1855, he bought the house on 16 May 1856 with the revenues from the initial success of the publication of Les Contemplations. By owning it Hugo ensured that he could not be expelled from the island as Guernsey law prohibits the deporting of people with property on the island. Hugo and his wife Adèle Foucher transformed and decorated the house during his exile from 1856 to 1870, during a return visit in the summer of 1878.
He named the house "Hautville", rather than Liberté, his original intention. The house consists of four levels, with the top floor featuring a glazed lookout with a view of Saint Peter Port and Sark, the islands near them; the garden is filled with flowers that grow abundantly due to the mild climate. The City of Paris conserves the two houses that Victor Hugo lived in the longest: the Rohan-Guéménée mansion in Paris and the Hauteville House in Guernsey. Hauteville House was given to the City of Paris in 1927 by the descendants of Victor Hugo; the structure of the building undertook a major renovation in 2008-9 and in 2017 an appeal was launched to pay for the renovation of internal decorations. Maisons de Victor Hugo Paris-Guernesey Office de tourisme de Guernesey
Juliette Drouet, born Julienne Josephine Gauvain, was a French actress. She abandoned her career on the stage after becoming the mistress of Victor Hugo, to whom she acted as a secretary and travelling companion. Juliette accompanied Hugo in his exile to the Channel Islands, wrote thousands of letters to him throughout her life, she was born Julienne Josephine Gauvain on 10 April 1806 in Fougères, Ille-et-Vilaine, the daughter of Julien Gauvain, a tailor, Marie Marchandet, employed as a housemaid. She had two older sisters, Renee and Thérèse, a brother Armand. Orphaned from her mother a few months after her birth, her father the following year, Gauvain was raised by her uncle, René Drouet, she was educated in Paris at a religious boarding school and considered a precocious child, having learned to read and write at the age of five. At the age of ten, Gauvain was proficient in literature and poetry. Around 1825, she became the mistress of sculptor James Pradier, who represented her in a statue symbolizing Strasbourg, at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
They had a daughter Claire. On the advice of Pradier, she started an acting career in 1829 in Brussels in Paris, it was, Drouet. Described by those who knew her as independent and hot-tempered. Drouet had bright eyes. In 1833, while playing the role of Princess Négroni in Lucrezia Borgia, she met Victor Hugo, whose wife Adèle was having an affair with the critic Sainte-Beuve, she abandoned her theatrical career afterwards to dedicate her life to her lover. Her last stage role was of Lady Jane Grey in Hugo's Marie Tudor, she became Hugo's secretary and travelling companion. For many years she lived a cloistered life. In 1852, she accompanied him in his exile on Jersey, in 1855 on Guernsey, she wrote thousands of letters to him throughout her life, which testify to her writing talent according to Henri Troyat who wrote her biography in 1997. Each year, from 16 February 1833 to 1883, they celebrated the anniversary of the first night they had spent together. Victor Hugo slipped this personal anecdote into the plot of Les Misérables: Marius and Cosette’s wedding night takes place on the same date.
Juliette Drouet died in Paris on 11 May 1883 at the age of 77. Hugo’s family dissuaded him from attending Juliette’s funeral out of concern for what people might say. Simone de Beauvoir, Patrick O'Brian; the Coming of Age. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-31443-X Juliette Drouet, Evelyn Blewer, Victoria Tietze Larson. My Beloved Toto: Letters from Juliette Drouet to Victor Hugo 1833-1882. State University of New York Press ISBN 0-7914-6572-1 Graham Robb, 1999. Victor Hugo: A Biography. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-31899-0 Henri Troyat, 1997. Juliette Drouet: La prisonnière sur parole. Flammarion. ISBN 2-08-067403-X Works by Juliette Drouet at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Juliette Drouet at Internet Archive Archival material at Leeds University Library
The Académie française is the pre-eminent French council for matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored as a division of the Institut de France in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte, it is the oldest of the five académies of the institute. The Académie consists of forty members, known informally as les immortels. New members are elected by the members of the Académie itself. Academicians hold office for life. Philippe Pétain, named Marshal of France after the victory of Verdun of World War I, was elected to the Academy in 1931 and, after his governorship of Vichy France in World War II, was forced to resign his seat in 1945; the body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language. Its rulings, are only advisory, not binding on either the public or the government; the Académie had its origins in an informal literary group deriving from the salons held at the Hôtel de Rambouillet during the late 1620s and early 1630s.
The group began meeting at Valentin Conrart's house. There were nine members. Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of France, made himself protector of the group, in anticipation of the formal creation of the academy, new members were appointed in 1634. On 22 February 1635, at Richelieu's urging, King Louis XIII granted letters patent formally establishing the council; the Académie française has remained responsible for the regulation of French grammar and literature. Richelieu's model, the first academy devoted to eliminating the "impurities" of a language, was the Accademia della Crusca, founded in Florence in 1582, which formalized the dominant position of the Tuscan dialect of Florence as the model for Italian. During the French Revolution, the National Convention suppressed all royal academies, including the Académie française. In 1792, the election of new members to replace those who died was prohibited, they were all replaced in 1795 by a single body called the Institut de France, or Institute of France.
Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul, decided to restore the former academies, but only as "classes" or divisions of the Institut de France. The second class of the Institut was responsible for the French language, corresponded to the former Académie française; when King Louis XVIII came to the throne in 1816, each class regained the title of "Académie". Since 1816, the existence of the Académie française has been uninterrupted; the President of France is patron of the Académie. Cardinal Richelieu adopted this role. King Louis XIV adopted the function when Séguier died in 1672. From 1672 to 1805, the official meetings of the Académie were in the Louvre; the remaining academies of the Institut de France meet in the Palais de l'Institut. The Académie française has forty seats, each of, assigned a separate number. Candidates make their applications for a specific seat, not to the Académie in general: if several seats are vacant, a candidate may apply separately for each. Since a newly elected member is required to eulogize his or her predecessor in the installation ceremony, it is not uncommon that potential candidates refuse to apply for particular seats because they dislike the predecessors.
Members are known as les Immortels because of the motto, À l'immortalité, on the official seal of the charter granted by Cardinal Richelieu. One of the Immortels is chosen by her colleagues to be the Académie's Perpetual Secretary; the Secretary is called "Perpetual" because the holder serves for life, although he or she may resign, may thereafter be styled as Honorary Perpetual Secretary. The Perpetual Secretary acts as a chief representative of the Académie; the two other officers, a Director and a Chancellor, are elected for three-month terms. The most senior member, by date of election, is the Dean of the Académie. New members are elected by the Académie itself; when a seat becomes vacant, a person may apply to the Secretary if she or he wishes to become a candidate. Alternatively, existing members may nominate other candidates. A candidate is elected by a majority of votes from voting members. A quorum is twenty members. If no candidate receives an absolute majority, another election must be performed at a date.
The election is valid only if the protector of the Académie, the President of France, grants his approval. The President's approbation, however, is only a formality. (There was a controversy about the candidacy of Paul Morand, whom Charles de Gaulle opposed in 1958. Morand was elected ten years and he was received without the customary visit, at the time of inve