The Battle of Waterloo by Victor Hugo


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One of 194 copies printed on Imperial Japan Vellum; this copy unnumbered, and Re-Binded in a brown leather binding absolutely beautiful and excellent condition for its age.

Briefly summarised, Hugo’s account of Waterloo follows this scheme: the author describes a traveller (himself) arriving on the battlefield of Waterloo some forty-six years after the combat.

Wandering down to Hougoumont farm, this traveller describes the ruins, connecting these with the past events of the battle he has obviously read about.

After Napoleon III, Victor Hugo was the greatest Frenchman of the late nineteenth century. He was not merely a writer of genius. He vigorously campaigned on behalf of the oppressed. Expressing a heart-felt horror of capital punishment, Victor Hugo strove, in vain, to save John Brown, the American guerrilla abolitionist.

This story makes a striking contrast between the reposeful nature of the present and the destructive death of the past whose ghosts lie amidst the crumbling masonry and a charred crucifix. Hugo contrasts, too, this gentle, leisurely introduction to the Waterloo episode with the ferocity of the battle.

Victor Hugo’s last wishes he had set down on paper were : “I give 50,000 francs to the poor. I wish to be carried to the cemetery in their hearse. I refuse the prayers of all churches; I ask for a prayer from all souls. I believe in God”.


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