AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Victor Hugo
One of the best-known French writers of all time, Victor Hugo is also a supporter of France’s Romantic Movement. Hugo was a poet, a novelist, a visual artist, and a human rights activist. Some of his well-known works are Les Miserables, Notre-Dame the Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), and Les Travailleurs de la Mer.
A Young Poet
Born in Besancon, France, Hugo was the youngest of three children. He grew up witnessing great political changes in the country, including the rise of the First French Empire and the dictatorship under Napoleon Bonaparte.
Inspired by Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand, Hugo resolved to be just as famous. His first volume of poetry called Nouvelles Odes et Poesies Diverses was published in 1824. Louis XVIII also granted him a royal pension at the age of twenty. Odes et Ballades, his second collection of poetry, was published only two years later. His first novel Han d’Islande was published in 1823.
Hugo’s Best Works
Written in five volumes, Les Miserables is set in France from 1815 to the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris. It revolves around the story of several characters, mainly the story of the redemption of ex-convict Jean Valjean.
Another one of Hugo’s more popular novels is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The novel tells the story of Quasimodo, the hunchback who rings the bells of the Notre Dame church; Esmeralda, a gypsy woman who befriends Quasimodo; and Archdeacon Claude Frollo, Quasimodo’s adoptive father, who is also captivated by Esmeralda.
Adaptations of Hugo
The story of Les Miserables is currently being told in musical format. Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Les Miserables started in London’s West End in 1985. Written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, the musical has garnered three Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards, and two Drama Desk Awards. The story has also been adapted into a film in 1998 and a musical movie in 2012. The musical movie won three Academy Awards.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame has been adapted into multiple films, the most famous being the 1996 Disney animation. Other than that, Hunchback has been adapted into a musical, an opera, a video game, and a ballet.
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