Inspiration, Quotes, Productivity and More

Victor Hugo Quotes From Beauty To Poverty

Victor Hugo was born on February 26, 1802 in Besancon, France. He is considered as one of the best poets, novelists and dramatists in France.

He wrote extensive about social class. politics, justice and moral philosophy. His most popular novels are Les Misérables, Notre Dame de Paris and Les Travailleurs de la Mer.

Victor Hugo was also elected to the National assembly in 1848. As politician, he led a campaign for the abolishment of death penalty, fought for universal suffrage, free education and for the eradication of poverty.

He was reputed to be a man for the people and the fight he led for the social causes he believed in made him one of the most respected and loved person of his era. He passed away on May 22, 1885, and his funeral attracted more than 2 million people, more than Paris total population at that time.

His powerful words on the social, political and cultural affairs have changed not only France but the the world.

Read our famous quotations of Victor Hugo and let yourself be inspired by the man who shaped literature and whose actions helped defined the politics of our world.

on Beauty

 

The ideal and the beautiful are identical; the ideal corresponds to the idea, and beauty to form; hence idea and substance are cognate.

Victor Hugo

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

Victor Hugo

To love beauty is to see light.

Victor Hugo

Dear God! how beauty varies in nature and art. In a woman the flesh must be like marble; in a statue the marble must be like flesh.

Victor Hugo

Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.

Victor Hugo

on Art

Victor Hugo had an affinity for Arts and drawings. He created more than 4,000 drawings in his life.

I am a soul. I know well that what I shall render up to the grave is not myself. That which is myself will go elsewhere. Earth, thou art not my abyss!

Victor Hugo Art

Freedom in art, freedom in society, this is the double goal towards which all consistent and logical minds must strive.

Victor Hugo Art

A great artist is a great man in a great child.

Victor Hugo Art

on Happiness

 

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

Victor Hugo

Doing nothing is happiness for children and misery for old men.

Victor Hugo

Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.

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

Inspiring Quotes

In 1841, Hugo was elected to the French Academy, which made him one of the most respected and inspirational “Homme de Lettres” in France and the world.

I don't mind what Congress does, as long as they don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses.

A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

Sublime upon sublime scarcely presents a contrast, and we need a little rest from everything, even the beautiful.

As a means of contrast with the sublime, the grotesque is, in our view, the richest source that nature can offer.

Well, for us, in history where goodness is a rare pearl, he who was good almost takes precedence over he who was great.

Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. From that divine tear and from that human smile is derived the grace of present civilization.

Mankind is not a circle with a single center but an ellipse with two focal points of which facts are one and ideas the other.

Hell is an outrage on humanity. When you tell me that your deity made you in his image, I reply that he must have been very ugly.

The little people must be sacred to the big ones, and it is from the rights of the weak that the duty of the strong is comprised.

A creditor is worse than a slave-owner; for the master owns only your person, but a creditor owns your dignity, and can command it.

Amnesty is as good for those who give it as for those who receive it. It has the admirable quality of bestowing mercy on both sides.

Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars.

To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.

Strange to say, the luminous world is the invisible world; the luminous world is that which we do not see. Our eyes of flesh see only night.

The omnipotence of evil has never resulted in anything but fruitless efforts. Our thoughts always escape from whoever tries to smother them.

Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.

Society is a republic. When an individual tries to lift themselves above others, they are dragged down by the mass, either by ridicule or slander.

Architecture has recorded the great ideas of the human race. Not only every religious symbol, but every human thought has its page in that vast book.

There have been in this century only one great man and one great thing: Napoleon and liberty. For want of the great man, let us have the great thing.

The drama is complete poetry. The ode and the epic contain it only in germ; it contains both of them in a state of high development, and epitomizes both.

There is no such thing as a little country. The greatness of a people is no more determined by their numbers than the greatness of a man is by his height.

The brutalities of progress are called revolutions. When they are over we realize this: that the human race has been roughly handled, but that it has advanced.

The three great problems of this century; the degradation of man in the proletariat, the subjection of women through hunger, the atrophy of the child by darkness.

I am an intelligent river which has reflected successively all the banks before which it has flowed by meditating only on the images offered by those changing shores.

One is not idle because one is absorbed. There is both visible and invisible labor. To contemplate is to toil, to think is to do. The crossed arms work, the clasped hands act. The eyes upturned to Heaven are an act of creation.

How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.

on Life

Victor Hugo suffered so many setbacks, but still kept his optimism alive. He lost his two sons, his wife passed away, and his daughter was admitted to an insane asylum within a a brief period of time.

Short as life is, we make it still shorter by the careless waste of time.

Victor Hugo

He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.

Victor Hugo

It is from books that wise people derive consolation in the troubles of life.

Victor Hugo

Concision in style, precision in thought, decision in life.

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.

Victor Hugo

Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet.

Victor Hugo

One sometimes says: ‘He killed himself because he was bored with life.’ One ought rather to say: ‘He killed himself because he was bored by lack of life.’

Victor Hugo

Life is the flower for which love is the honey.

Victor Hugo

on love

Before his death, Victor Hugo left a note with these words: To Love is to act

The most powerful symptom of love is a tenderness which becomes at times almost insupportable.

Victor Hugo

The first symptom of love in a young man is timidity; in a girl boldness.

Victor Hugo

Try as you will, you cannot annihilate that eternal relic of the human heart, love.

Victor Hugo

There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.

Victor Hugo

To love another person is to see the face of God.

Victor Hugo

To love is to act.

Victor Hugo

I met in the street a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, his cloak was out at the elbows, the water passed through his shoes, – and the stars through his soul.

Victor Hugo

I love all men who think, even those who think otherwise than myself.

Victor Hugo

Love is a portion of the soul itself, and it is of the same nature as the celestial breathing of the atmosphere of paradise.

Victor Hugo

on Man

 

The learned man knows that he is ignorant.

Victor Hugo

Smallness in a great man seems smaller by its disproportion with all the rest.

Victor Hugo

The wise man does not grow old, but ripens.

Victor Hugo

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

Victor Hugo

Genius: the superhuman in man.

Victor Hugo

Pain is as diverse as man. One suffers as one can.

Victor Hugo

Blessed be Providence which has given to each his toy: the doll to the child, the child to the woman, the woman to the man, the man to the devil!

Victor Hugo

The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage; they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human.

Victor Hugo

Men become accustomed to poison by degrees.

Victor Hugo

Men like me are impossible until the day when they become necessary.

Victor Hugo

Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.

Victor Hugo

The animal is ignorant of the fact that he knows. The man is aware of the fact that he is ignorant.

Victor Hugo

Whenever a man’s friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.

Victor Hugo

on Woman

 

When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.

Victor Hugo

No one knows like a woman how to say things which are at once gentle and deep.

Victor Hugo

Nature has made a pebble and a female. The lapidary makes the diamond, and the lover makes the woman.

Victor Hugo

It is often necessary to know how to obey a woman in order sometimes to have the right to command her.

Victor Hugo

Without vanity, without coquetry, without curiosity, in a word, without the fall, woman would not be woman. Much of her grace is in her frailty.

Victor Hugo

We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.

Victor Hugo

on Soul

 

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 live.

Victor Hugo

The soul has illusions as the bird has wings: it is supported by them.

Victor Hugo

There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees.

Victor Hugo

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.

Victor Hugo

One of the hardest tasks is to extract continually from one’s soul an almost inexhaustible ill will.

Victor Hugo

Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.

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

on Time

 

We see past time in a telescope and present time in a microscope. Hence the apparent enormities of the present.

Victor Hugo

There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time as come.

Victor Hugo

Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

Nothing else in the world… not all the armies… is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

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

Victor Hugo

on God

 

Religions do a useful thing: they narrow God to the limits of man. Philosophy replies by doing a necessary thing: it elevates man to the plane of God.

Victor Hugo

The word is the Verb, and the Verb is God.

Victor Hugo

To think is of itself to be useful; it is always and in all cases a striving toward God.

Victor Hugo

When God desires to destroy a thing, he entrusts its destruction to the thing itself. Every bad institution of this world ends by suicide.

Victor Hugo

Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it.

Victor Hugo

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

Victor Hugo

Indigestion is charged by God with enforcing morality on the stomach.

Victor Hugo

Conscience is God present in man.

Victor Hugo

Because one doesn’t like the way things are is no reason to be unjust towards God.

Victor Hugo

on Genius

 

The man who does not know other languages, unless he is a man of genius, necessarily has deficiencies in his ideas.

Victor Hugo

Taste is the common sense of genius.

Victor Hugo

There is a sacred horror about everything grand. It is easy to admire mediocrity and hills; but whatever is too lofty, a genius as well as a mountain, an assembly as well as a masterpiece, seen too near, is appalling.

Victor Hugo

Genius is a promontory jutting out into the infinite.

Victor Hugo

on Action

Despite his personal loss, Victor Hugo stayed motivated to fight for the cause of the people and he remained committed to the political change in his country.

 

My tastes are aristocratic, my actions democratic.

Victor Hugo

Many great actions are committed in small struggles.

Victor Hugo

It is most pleasant to commit a just action which is disagreeable to someone whom one does not like.

Victor Hugo

Reaction – a boat which is going against the current but which does not prevent the river from flowing on.

Victor Hugo

on Poverty

 

The ox suffers, the cart complains.

Victor Hugo

As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.

Victor Hugo

He who is not capable of enduring poverty is not capable of being free.

Victor Hugo

Short Quotes

 

Despotism is a long crime.

Victor Hugo

Stupidity talks, vanity acts.

Victor Hugo

Wisdom is a sacred communion.

Victor Hugo

Liberation is not deliverance.

Victor Hugo

Habit is the nursery of errors.

Victor Hugo

Virtue has a veil, vice a mask.

Victor Hugo

Toleration is the best religion.

Victor Hugo

A library implies an act of faith.

Victor Hugo

Those who live are those who fight.

Victor Hugo

When liberty returns, I will return.

Victor Hugo

I’m religiously opposed to religion.

Victor Hugo

Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.

Victor Hugo

To contemplate is to look at shadows.

Victor Hugo

To think of shadows is a serious thing.

Victor Hugo

A war between Europeans is a civil war.

Victor Hugo

Puns are the droppings of soaring wits.

Victor Hugo

Prayer is an august avowal of ignorance.

Victor Hugo

The flesh is the surface of the unknown.

Victor Hugo

I put a Phrygian cap on the old dictionary.

Victor Hugo

Idleness is the heaviest of all oppressions.

Victor Hugo

People do not lack strength; they lack will.

Victor Hugo

He who opens a school door, closes a prison.

Victor Hugo

No one can keep a secret better than a child.

Victor Hugo

Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.

Victor Hugo

Fashions have done more harm than revolutions.

Victor Hugo

Scepticism, that dry caries of the intelligence.

Victor Hugo

Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.

Victor Hugo

Joy’s smile is much closer to tears than laughter.

Victor Hugo

It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.

Victor Hugo

To rise from error to truth is rare and beautiful.

Victor Hugo

It is by suffering that human beings become angels.

Victor Hugo

There is nothing like a dream to create the future.

Victor Hugo

A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil.

Victor Hugo

The wicked envy and hate; it is their way of admiring.

Victor Hugo

Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.

Victor Hugo

Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.

Victor Hugo

One believes others will do what he will do to himself.

Victor Hugo

When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.

Victor Hugo

The beautiful has but one type, the ugly has a thousand.

Victor Hugo

Our life dreams the Utopia. Our death achieves the Ideal.

Victor Hugo

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.

Victor Hugo

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

Victor Hugo

An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.

Victor Hugo

Common sense is in spite of, not as the result of education.

Victor Hugo

One sees qualities at a distance and defects at close range.

Victor Hugo

Do not let it be your aim to be something, but to be someone.

Victor Hugo

Our acts make or mar us, we are the children of our own deeds.

Victor Hugo

Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.

Victor Hugo

Everything being a constant carnival, there is no carnival left.

Victor Hugo

Never laugh at those who suffer; suffer sometimes those who laugh.

Victor Hugo

A faith is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing.

Victor Hugo

But when ill indeed, Even dismissing the doctor don’t always succeed.

Victor Hugo

What a grand thing, to be loved! What a grander thing still, to love!

Victor Hugo

Evil. Mistrust those who rejoice at it even more than those who do it.

Victor Hugo

Style is the substance of the subject called unceasingly to the surface.

Victor Hugo

It is the end. But of what? The end of France? No. The end of kings? Yes.

Victor Hugo

By putting forward the hands of the clock you shall not advance the hour.

Victor Hugo

A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.

Victor Hugo

Intelligence is the wife, imagination is the mistress, memory is the servant.

Victor Hugo

Almost all our desires, when examined, contain something too shameful to reveal.

Victor Hugo

The ode lives upon the ideal, the epic upon the grandiose, the drama upon the real.

Victor Hugo

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

Victor Hugo

One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.

Victor Hugo

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

Victor Hugo

Close by the Rights of Man, at the least set beside them, are the Rights of the Spirit.

Victor Hugo

Rhyme, that enslaved queen, that supreme charm of our poetry, that creator of our meter.

Victor Hugo

What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.

Victor Hugo

Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.

Victor Hugo

The last resort of kings, the cannonball. The last resort of the people, the paving stone.

Victor Hugo

When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.

Victor Hugo

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