Victor Hugo


French Author, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist, one of the best-known French Romantic Writers

Author Quotes

To assume a right to the obedience of certain beings is to give others a right to command you. Tears unshed are far more bitter than those that flow.

To love beauty is to see light.

To those who reject the superhuman incarnate what does the Crucifix represent? — the murder of wisdom.

We are on the side of religion as opposed to religions, and we are among those who believe in the wretched inadequacy of sermons and the sublimity of prayer.

What a pity! said Combeferre. What a hideous thing these bloodbaths are! I'm sure, when there are no more kings, there will be no more war. Enjolras, you're aiming at that sergeant, you're not looking at him. Just think that he's a charming young man; he's intrepid; you can see that he's a thinker; these young artillerymen are well educated; he has a father, a mother, a family; he's in love, probably; he's 25 at most; he might be your brother. He is, said Enjolras. Yes, said Combeferre, and mine, too. Well, don't let's kill him. Leave me alone. We must do what we must. And a tear rolled slowly down Enjolras's marble cheek.

What would be ugly in a garden constitutes beauty in a mountain.

Whenever we encounter the Infinite in man, however imperfectly understood, we treat it with respect. Whether in the synagogue, the mosque, the pagoda, or the wigwam, there is a hideous aspect which we execrate and a sublime aspect which we venerate . So great a subject for spiritual contemplation, such measureless dreaming -- the echo of God on the human wall!

Wisdom in the beginning, reason by and by: such is the strange history of the human mind.

You have suffered greatly, poor mother. Oh! do not lament, you have now the portion of the elect. It is in this way that mortals become angels. It is not their fault; they do not know how to set about it otherwise. This hell from which you have come out is the first step towards Heaven. We must begin by that.

To be a saint is the exception to be upright is the rule. Err, falter, sin, but be upright. To commit the least possible sin is the law for man. Sin is a gravitation.

To love is to act. [Last words of his diary, written two weeks before his death]

To touch with the thought is almost the same as to touch with the hand.

We are the children of our own deeds.

What are the convulsions of a city compared to the émeutes of the soul?

What you fellows call progress moves by two motors, men and events. But sad to say, from time to time the exceptional is necessary. For events as well as men, the stock company is not enough...seeing a comet, one would be tempted to believe that Heaven itself is in need of star actors.

Where genius rises, envy raises her head.

Wisdom is a sacred communion.

You insist on the example [of the death penalty]. Why? For what it teaches. What do you want to teach with your example? That thou shalt not kill. And how do you teach thou shalt not kill? By killing.

To be perfectly happy it does not suffice to possess happiness, it is necessary to have deserved it.

To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.

To venture, to defy, to persevere, to be true to one's self, to grapple with destiny, to dismay calamity by not being afraid of it, to challenge now unrighteous powers and now victory run wild, to stand fast and hold firm — these are the examples that the peoples need, the spark that electrifies them.

We bow to the man who kneels. A faith is a necessity to man. Woe to him who believes in nothing. A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor. To meditate is to labor; to think is to act.

What are the convulsions of a city in comparison with the insurrections of the soul? Man is a depth still greater than the people. Jean Valjean at that very moment was the prey of a terrible upheaval. Every sort of gulf had opened again within him. He also was trembling, like Paris, on the brink of an obscure and formidable revolution. A few hours had sufficed to bring this about. His destiny and his conscience had suddenly been covered with gloom. Of him also, as well as of Paris, it might have been said: Two principles are face to face. The white angel and the black angel are about to seize each other on the bridge of the abyss. Which of the two will hurl the other over? Who will carry the day?

When a man is out of sight, it is not too long before he is out of mind.

Where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incident, chaos will soon reign.

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French Author, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist, one of the best-known French Romantic Writers