The History Of A Crime


By the age of twenty-nine Victor Hugo was the established master of French poetry, drama and the novel; by virtue of Les Orientales, Hernani and Notre Dame de Paris respectively. He would write for nearly fifty-four more years with no significant depreciation in his work. Hugo wrote, in Dieu (God), that Satan had sent three evils into this world; war, capitol punishment and imprisonment. On April 13, 1845 Hugo was made a Peer de France and on June 4th he was elected to the ...
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The History of a Crime: the testimony of an eye witness

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By the age of twenty-nine Victor Hugo was the established master of French poetry, drama and the novel; by virtue of Les Orientales, Hernani and Notre Dame de Paris respectively. He would write for nearly fifty-four more years with no significant depreciation in his work. Hugo wrote, in Dieu (God), that Satan had sent three evils into this world; war, capitol punishment and imprisonment. On April 13, 1845 Hugo was made a Peer de France and on June 4th he was elected to the National Assembly.

The revolution of 1848 marked a watershed in the social and political opinions and ultimately in the course of the great writer's literary career. However, for Victor Hugo the course that would lead him from the right to the left in the Chamber of Deputies, unfolded gradually over the first two years of the upheaval.

Hugo's reputation as a critic already insured that his preventative arrest along with other dissenting parliamentarians. Hugo also futilely attempted to form a resistance committee and tried to rally popular support in Paris for a new round of barricades. These moments are the subject of his novel History of a Crime. By the time the great romantic had begun his exile he had turned one hundred and eighty degrees, from an adherent of the restored monarchy to a champion of a democratic and social republic. When his political activities forced him to flee Paris, he started writing less than 24 hours after he arrived in Brussels. In less than five months, he completed History of a Crime, which contains vicious attacks on Napoleon III. Belgium asked Hugo to leave because they were forced to maintain friendly relations with France. Hugo then went to the small island of Jersey not far from the French coast, but he would never make a real home

Hugo wrote History of a Crime in 1852, with the intention to expose the true nature of Louis-Napoléon's coup d'etat on 2 December 1851. But when completed, he refrained from publishing it as no company would dare to buy it and it would probably disturb the relations between Belgium and France. It was later published in 1877.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898754131
  • Publisher: University Press of the Pacific
  • Publication date: 7/1/2001
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 0.96 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 8.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
"If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away," the larger-than-life Victor Hugo once confessed. Indeed, this 19th-century French master's works -- from the epic drama Les Misérables to the classic unrequited love story The Hunchback of Notre Dame -- have spanned the ages, their themes of morality and redemption ever applicable to our times.


Novelist, poet, dramatist, essayist, politician, and leader of the French Romantic movement from 1830 on, Victor-Marie Hugo was born in Besançon, France, on February 26, 1802. Hugo's early childhood was turbulent: His father, Joseph-Léopold, traveled as a general in Napoléon Bonaparte's army, forcing the family to move frequently. Weary of this upheaval, Hugo's mother, Sophie, separated from her husband and settled in Paris. Victor's brilliance declared itself early in the form of illustrations, plays, and nationally recognized verse. Against his mother's wishes, the passionate young man fell in love and secretly became engaged to Adèle Foucher in 1819. Following the death of his mother, and self-supporting thanks to a royal pension granted for his first book of odes, Hugo wed Adèle in 1822.

In the 1820s and 1830s, Victor Hugo came into his own as a writer and figurehead of the new Romanticism, a movement that sought to liberate literature from its stultifying classical influences. His 1827 preface to the play Cromwell proclaimed a new aesthetic inspired by Shakespeare, based on the shock effects of juxtaposing the grotesque with the sublime. The great success of Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) confirmed Hugo's primacy among the Romantics.

By 1830 the Hugos had four children. Exhausted from her pregnancies and her husband's insatiable sexual demands, Adèle began to sleep alone, and soon fell in love with Hugo's best friend, the critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve. They began an affair. The Hugos stayed together as friends, and in 1833 Hugo met the actress Juliette Drouet, who would remain his primary mistress until her death 50 years later.

Personal tragedy pursued Hugo relentlessly. His jealous brother Eugène went permanently insane following Victor's wedding to Adèle. His daughter, Léopoldine, together with her unborn child and her devoted husband, died at 19 in a boating accident on the Seine. Hugo never fully recovered from this loss.

Political ups and downs ensued as well, following the shift of Hugo's early royalist sympathies toward liberalism during the late 1820s. He first held political office in 1843, and as he became more engaged in France's social troubles, he was elected to the Constitutional Assembly following the February Revolution of 1848. After Napoléon III's coup d'état in 1851, Hugo's open opposition created hostilities that ended in his flight abroad from the new government.

Declining at least two offers of amnesty -- which would have meant curtailing his opposition to the Empire -- Hugo remained in exile in the Channel Islands for 19 years, until the fall of Napoléon III in 1870. Meanwhile, the seclusion of the islands enabled Hugo to write some of his most famous verse as well as Les Misérables (1862). When he returned to Paris, the country hailed him as a hero. Hugo then weathered, within a brief period, the siege of Paris, the institutionalization of his daughter Adèle for insanity, and the death of his two sons. Despite this personal anguish, the aging author remained committed to political change. He became an internationally revered figure who helped to preserve and shape the Third Republic and democracy in France. Hugo's death on May 22, 1885, generated intense national mourning; more than two million people joined his funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon, where he was buried.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Good To Know

Hugo was seen by his fans as a grand, larger-than-life character -- and rumors spread that he could eat half an ox in one sitting, fast for three days, and then work without stopping for a week.

Hugo owned a pet cat named Gavroche -- the name of one of the primary characters in Les Misérables.

The longest sentence ever written in literature is in Les Misérables; depending on the translation, it consists of about 800 words.

When Hugo published Les Misérables, he was on holiday. After not hearing anything about its reception for a few days, Hugo sent a telegram to his publisher, reading, simply:


The complete reply from the publisher:


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    1. Also Known As:
      Victor-Marie Hugo
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 26, 1802
    2. Place of Birth:
      Besançon, France
    1. Date of Death:
      May 22, 1885
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Table of Contents

The First Day--The Ambush
I. "Security" 9
II. Paris sleeps--the Bell rings 13
III. What had happened during the Night 15
IV. Other Doings of the Night 31
V. The Darkness of the Crime 33
VI. "Placards" 35
VII. No. 70, Rue Blanche 39
VIII. "Violation of the Chamber" 46
IX. An End worse than Death 56
X. The Black Door 53
XI. The High Court of Justice 60
II. The Mairie of the Tenth Arrondissement 72
XIII. Louis Bonaparte's Side-face 93
XIV. The D'Orsay Barracks 95
XV. Mazas 105
XVI. The Episode of the Boulevard St. Martin 110
XVII. The Rebound of the 24th June, 1848, on the 2d December 1851 120
XVIII. The Representatives hunted down 126
XIX. One Foot in the Tomb 134
XX. The Burial of a Great Anniversary 143
The Second Day--The Struggle
I. They come to Arrest me 145
II. From the Bastille to the Rue de Cotte 152
III. The St. Antoine Barricade 156
IV. The Workmen's Societies ask us for the Order to fight 171
V. Baudin's Corpse 176
VI. The Decrees of the Representatives who remained Free 181
VII. The Archbishop 197
VIII. Mount Valerien 203
IX. The Lightning begins to flash among the People 207
X. What Fleury went to do at Mazas 213
XI. The End of the Second Day 219
The Third Day--The Massacre
I. Those who sleep and He who does not sleep 223
II. The Proceedings of the Committee 225
III. Inside the Elysee 233
IV. Bonaparte's Familiar Spirits 237
V. A Wavering Ally 242
VI. Denis Dussoubs 244
VII. Items and Interviews 245
VIII. The Situation 250
IX. The Porte Saint Martin 256
X. My Visit to the Barricades 258
XI. The Barricade of the Rue Meslay 262
XII. The Barricade of the Mairie of the Fifth Arrondissement 266
XIII. The Barricade of the Rue Thevenot 268
XIV. Ossian and Scipio 272
XV. The Question presents itself 279
XVI. The Massacre 284
XVII. The Appointment made with the Workmen's Societies 292
XVIII. The Verification of Moral Laws 297
The Fourth Day--The Victory
I. What happened during the Night--the Rue Tiquetonne 301
II. What happened during the Night--the Market Quarter 304
III. What happened during the Night--the Petit Carreau 317
IV. What was done during the Night--the Passage du Saumon 329
V. Other Deeds of Darkness 336
VI. The Consultative Committee 343
VII. The Other List 349
VIII. David d'Angers 352
IX. Our Last Meeting 354
X. Duty can have two Aspects 358
XI. The Combat finished, the Ordeal begins 366
XII. The Exiled 368
XIII. The Military Commissions and the mixed Commissions 382
XIV. A Religious Incident 386
XV. How they came out of Ham 386
XVI. A Retrospect 396
XVII. Conduct of the Left 397
XVIII. A Page written at Brussels 406
XIX. The Infallible Benediction 410
Conclusion--The Fall
Chap. I.411
Chap. II.413
Chap. III.415
Chap. IV.417
Chap. V.418
Chap. VI.420
Chap. VII.422
Chap. VIII.425
Chap. IX.427
Chap. X.428
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