French poet and novelist Victor Hugo was born on February 26, 1802. His first novel, Han d’Islande, was published in 1823. In the next several years, he published five volumes of poetry, including Les Rayons et les Ombres, which established him as one of the greatest poets of his time. As a playwright, his works in the plays Cromwell and Hernani made him the frontman of the Romantic literary movement.
His first international success came with The Hunchback of Notre-Dame published in 1831. It was translated into many other languages across Europe and attracted tourist interest for the Cathedral of Notre Dame. His most well-known work, Les Misérables, is now considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century.
Hugo’s strong political sentiments also led him to live in exile from 1855 until 1870. It was during this period that he published some of his best work, including Les Misérables. His idea of a novel tackling social misery and injustice started in the 1830s. But it took him nearly two decades to work on it before finally publishing it in 1862.
His death on May 22, 1885 was mourned by the whole of France. Apart from his significant contributions in literature, he was also a statesman who staunchly supported liberty and equality in the form of democracy. Up to this day, Hugo remains a huge part of France as much as his country was a huge part of him.
Here are 30 Victor Hugo quotes reflecting his positive take on life and love.
To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. – Victor Hugo
The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only. – Victor Hugo
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. – Victor Hugo
Love is like a tree: it grows by itself, roots itself deeply in our being and continues to flourish over a heart in ruin. The inexplicable fact is that the blinder it is, the more tenacious it is. It is never stronger than when it is completely unreasonable. – Victor Hugo
To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better. – Victor Hugo
Not being heard is no reason for silence. – Victor Hugo
Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake. – Victor Hugo
To love another person is to see the face of God. – Victor Hugo
Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees. – Victor Hugo
You who suffer because you love, love still more. To die of love, is to live by it. – Victor Hugo
It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live. – Victor Hugo
Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness. – Victor Hugo
Nothing makes a man so adventurous as an empty pocket. – Victor Hugo
The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved — loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. – Victor Hugo
A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor. – Victor Hugo
A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars. – Victor Hugo
Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face. – Victor Hugo
No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come. – Victor Hugo
The pupil dilates in darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God. – Victor Hugo
Those who do not weep, do not see. – Victor Hugo
An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise. – Victor Hugo
To die for lack of love is horrible. The asphyxia of the soul. – Victor Hugo
You ask me what forces me to speak? a strange thing; my conscience. – Victor Hugo
Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots. – Victor Hugo
Life is the flower for which love is the honey. – Victor Hugo
The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown; but for the valiant, it is ideal. – Victor Hugo
People do not lack strength; they lack will. – Victor Hugo
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. – Victor Hugo
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. – Victor Hugo
The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than of the real. It is by the real that we exist, it is by the ideal that we love. – Victor Hugo
Share these 30 Victor Hugo quotes to spread optimism.