Victor Marie Hugo and the Romantic EraVictor Marie Hugo and the literature that changed France, if not the world” His novels have a purpose: historical, moral, social or all at once. &9;Their insistent vibrating style, and the frequent intrusion of the author’s inflections may awaken a sense of strain; but they have kept their hold on others than school boys; and the grotesque, swarming, medieval crowds surging the huge cathedral (Notre Dame de Paris), the symbolic fight between man and the sea (Les Travialleurs de Mer). The epic allegories of vice, suffering and regeneration in the background of modern society of it’s cruelty and indifference it has secured themselves a place among the French books that live” (Cazamian, 1964).
At the age of twenty-five Victor Hugo published his play Cromwell which, though never preformed, changed the course of literature. The preface especially was viewed by the budding romantic movement as the manifesto for the new school. The principles he expounded there established him as the uncontested leader of the movement. Hugo’s early works would define the tone, subjects and style of the period. He discarded the rules of the classic period with its continuity of time, place and action, it restrictive superfluous vocabulary and the limit of a twenty-four hour time period for drama. He established the legitimacy of addressing the strange, the fantastic and the grotesque. Hugo led literature back to nature declaring that the “Poet should have only one model, nature; only one guide, truth.” He compared the classical literature to the royal park at Versailles maintaining that it was artificial literature much like the “well leveled, well pruned, well raked, well sanded” grounds of the great la…
…omantic movement cannot be overstated, he was its greatest master. Likewise Hugo’s importance to the French consciousness of his era cannot be exaggerated, the man, the work and the creativity defined an era. Unlike his idle critics Hugo took his destiny as well as his country’s in his sturdy hands and made the best of both. His mistakes were made with good intention, and his successes have stood the test of time.
Cazamian, L. (1964). A History of French Literature. Clarendon, England: Oxford &9;University Press.
Gardner, H. (1993). Creating Minds. New York City: Basic Books.
Grant, E. M. (1945). The Career of Victor Hugo. London, England: Oxford University Press.
Harris, R. W. (1969). Romanticism and the Social Order. Great Britain: Barnes and Noble.
Houston, J. P. (1988). Victor Hugo Revised Ed. Boston Mass.: Twayne Publishers.