Selected Poems

Overview

For most of his life, Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was the most famous writer in the world. His legacy includes the nineteenth century's most celebrated works of drama, fiction, memoir, and criticism. But in his day Hugo was know foremost as a poet-indeed the greatest French poet of the age. He wrote with passion about history, erotic experience, familial love, philosophy, nature, social justice, art, and mysticism.

In this new bicentennial edition, acclaimed poet and translator ...

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Selected Poems

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Overview

For most of his life, Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was the most famous writer in the world. His legacy includes the nineteenth century's most celebrated works of drama, fiction, memoir, and criticism. But in his day Hugo was know foremost as a poet-indeed the greatest French poet of the age. He wrote with passion about history, erotic experience, familial love, philosophy, nature, social justice, art, and mysticism.

In this new bicentennial edition, acclaimed poet and translator Brooks Haxton offers an exquisite selection of Hugo's finest work: love poems, historical tableaux, elegy, and idyll, including his incomparable "Boaz Asleep," which Marcel Proust praised as the most beautiful poem of the nineteenth century.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142437032
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/26/2002
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,406,056
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor Hugo

Born in 1802, the son of a high officer in Napoleon’s army, Victor Hugo spent his childhood against a background of military life in Elba, Corsica, Naples, and Madrid. After the Napoleonic defeat, the Hugo family settled in straitened circumstances in Paris, where, at the age of fifteen, Victor Hugo commenced his literary career with a poem submitted to a contest sponsored by the Académie Française. Twenty-four years later, Hugo was elected to the Académie, having helped revolutionize French literature with his poems, plays, and novels. Entering politics, he won a seat in the National Assembly in 1848; but in 1851, he was forced to flee the country because of his opposition to Louis Napoleon. In exile on the Isle of Guernsey, he became a symbol of French resistance to tyranny; upon his return to Paris after the Revolution of 1870, he was greeted as a national hero. He continued to serve in public life and to write with unabated vigor until his death in 1885. He was buried in the Pantheon with every honor the French nation could bestow.
Brooks Haxton's poetry translations include Dances for Flute and Thunder: Poems from the Ancient Greek, which was nominated for a PEN translation award, and Victor Hugo's Selected Poems for Penguin Classics.

Biography

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

Selected Poems Introduction A Note on the Translation

One-Year-Old As I Have Set My Lip Oceano Nox Nights in June Napoleon's Army After the Fall of Moscow My Two Girls Barefoot Letter from Normandy How It Happened (December 4, 1851)
All Souls' Day, 1846
When We Were Living (September 4, 1844)
Little Song (to Leopoldine, September 3, 1847)
The Graveyard at Villequier (September 4, 1847)
Word from the Dunes (August 4, 1854)
The Seven Oxen of the Northern Plough Shepherds and Flocks Mugitusque Boum Flower Dawn at the Edge of the Woods Orpheus Boaz Asleep The Trumpet of Judgment During Sickness Et Nox Facta Est The Plume of Satan Whose Fault Is This? (June 25, 1871)
From The Art of Being a Grandfather: Lesson One: The Moon To Théophile Gautier Sonnet Notes

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    French!

    It's written in French! And there's typos and punctuation scattered all about.

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