Les Misérables' Victor Hugo: 10 quotes on his birthday

In France, Victor Hugo is today most cherished as a poet. But in the English-speaking world of 2013, he is certainly best known as the author of 'Les Misérables' – the novel from Tom Hooper's Oscar-winning 2012 film was adapted. A political firebrand in his time, Hugo left France in 1852 (after Napoleon III's coup), landing on the island of Guernesy in 1855 and remaining there for almost 20 years. He finally returned to his homeland in 1870. He was welcomed as a hero. For the next 15 years, Hugo continued to champion the rights of the downtrodden in society – even requesting that he be buried in a pauper's coffin. This request was granted, though he was also given a national funeral and buried as a hero in the Pantheon. 

1.What fame brings

Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats.

From Villemain

A divine gift

"The word which God has written on the brow of every man is Hope."

From Les Misérables

What is truly invincible

"An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come."

From Histoire d'un crime

True work

"A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labour and there is invisible labour."

From Les Miserables

The power of laughter

"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face."

From Les Miserables

Men are animals and animals are men

"It is our conviction that if souls were visible to the eye we should distinctly see this strange fact that each individual of the human species corresponds to some one of the species of the animal creation; and we should clearly recognise the truth, hardly percieved by thinkers, that, from the oyster to the eagle, from the swine to the tiger, all animals are in man, and that each of them is in a man; sometimes even, several of them at a time.

Animals are nothing but the forms of our virtues and vices wandering before our eyes, the visible phantoms of our souls."

From Les Miserables

On reading

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."

From Les Miserables

The power of poverty

“Nothing makes a man so adventurous as an empty pocket.”

From The Hunchback of Notre Dame

What shines in the dark

“What makes night within us may leave stars."

From Ninety-Three

The power of truth

“Reality in strong doses frightens.”

From Toilers of the Sea