Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Victor Hugo

"This century of ours was two years old, the Sparta of the Republic was giving place to the Rome of the Empire, and Bonaparte the First Consul developing into Napoleon the Emperor,...when at Besancon...there came into the world a child of mingled Breton and Lorraine blood, who was colorless, sightless, voiceless, and so poor a weakling that all despaired of him except his mother...That child, whose name Life appeared to be erasing from its book, and whose short day of existence seemed destined to pass into night with never a morrow — that child am I." Thus in the lines which most Frenchmen know pretty well by heart, has Victor Hugo related the incidents of his birth. To put the matter more prosaically, he was born at Besancon, in the extreme east of France, on February 26, 1802, all declaring that he could not live, the mother fully determined that he should live,— and prevailing. Not thus, prematurely, was to close a career destined to be remarkable for its magnificent vitality. "Victor Marie," so was the boy christened and the name proved of happy augury. In the first fight he came off victor over death. Within six weeks he had so far gained strength as to be able to bear removal to Marseilles; and thence, though still very delicate, he was taken about to Corsica and Elba, from station to station, in the wake of a wandering military father...
Source: Life of Victor Hugo, by Frank Thomas Marzials, John Parker Anderson, published by W. Scott, 1888, p. 13.

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