115 Quotes of Wisdom by Victor Hugo

Last updated on Jul 29th, 2018

115 Quotes of Wisdom by Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo is a famous poet, novelist, dramatist, and one of the most important French Romantic authors. He is best known for his poetry and novels, including titles such as Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).

Victor-Marie Hugo was born in Besançon, France, on February 26, 1802. He studied law from 1815 to 1818 after which he graduated from the law faculty at Paris. Encouraged by his mother, Hugo began his career in literature.

In 1831, he published one of his most notable works, Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Notre-Dame de Paris was quickly translated into other languages across Europe and is considered as the one of the most famous Hugo’s work.

After Notre-Dame de Paris, Hugo became the most celebrated literary figures in France in the 1840s. Hugo’s literary achievement was recognized by his election to the French Academy in 1841 after three unsuccessful attempts. Four years later he was also nominated for the Chamber of Peers.

In 1862, Hugo finished and published his abandoned novel, Les Misérables. The book was a great success in Europe and the United States. As one of the greatest literary works of the 19th century, Les Misérables was later interpreted as a theatrical musical and a film.

Victor Hugo is considered one of the greatest writers and remains one of the giants of French literature. He is also one of the rare authors who impresses both academic and non-academic audiences.


Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.Les misérables (1862)


Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.William Shakespeare (1864)


Laughter is sunshine; it chases winter from the human face.Les misérables (1862)


He had slipped, climbed, rolled, searched, walked, persevered, that is all. Such is the secret of all triumphs.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


To love beauty is to see light.Les misérables (1862)


Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.Ninety-Three (1874)


To love another person is to see the face of God.Les misérables (1862)


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.William Shakespeare (1864)


There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.Les misérables (1862)


What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


The first symptom of true love in a young man is timidity; in a young girl it is boldness.Les misérables (1862)


Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.On the one hundredth anniversary of Voltaire's death (1878)


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.Les misérables (1862)


Those who live are those who fight.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.Les misérables (1862)


One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.History of a Crime (1877)


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.Les misérables (1862)


When God desires to destroy a thing, he entrusts its destruction to the thing itself. Every bad institution of this world ends by suicide.Napoleon the Little (1852)


What a grand thing, to be loved? What a grander thing still, to love?Les misérables (1862)


Our life dreams the Utopia. Our death achieves the Ideal.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the attitude of the body may be, the soul is on its knees.Les misérables (1862)


Men become accustomed to poison by degrees.Toilers of the Sea (1866)


An intelligent hell would be preferable to an imbruted heaven.Ninety-Three (1874)


No one but a woman knows how to say things which are at once gentle and deep.Les misérables (1862)


Let us leave to the brain what belongs to it, and agree that the work of the men of genius is of the superhuman, the offspring of man.William Shakespeare (1864)


Liberation is not deliverance.Les misérables (1862)


Genius is a promontory jutting out into the infinite.William Shakespeare (1864)


It is nothing to die, but it is frightful not to live.Les misérables (1862)


Fashions have done more harm than revolutions.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


No one ever keeps a secret so well as a child.Les misérables (1862)


He who is not capable of enduring poverty is not capable of being free.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Wisdom is a sacred communion.Les misérables (1862)


A great artist is a great man in a great child.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.Les misérables (1862)


The flesh is the cover of the unknown.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


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.Les misérables (1862)


You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea.Villemain (1845)


Indigestion is charged by God with enforcing morality on the stomach.Les misérables (1862)


Virtue has a veil, vice a mask.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Nothing is so stifling as symmetry. Symmetry is boredom, the quintessence of mourning. Despair yawns. There is something more terrible than a hell of suffering – a hell of boredom.Les misérables (1862)


One of the hardest labours of the just man is to expunge from his soul a malevolence which it is difficult to efface.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


From a political point of view, there is but one principle; the sovereignty of man over himself. This sovereignty of myself over myself is called Liberty.Les misérables (1862)


Conscience is God present in man.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


The word which God has written on the brow of every man is Hope.Les misérables (1862)


Life is the flower for which love is the honey.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


I am not in the world to care for my life, but for souls.Les misérables (1862)


The greatest products of architecture are less the works of individuals than of society; rather the offspring of a nation’s effort, than the inspired flash of a man of genius.The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831)


To be wicked does not insure prosperity — for the inn did not succeed well.Les misérables (1862)


Short as life is, we make it still shorter by the careless waste of time.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


We do not comprehend everything, but we insult nothing.Les misérables (1862)


Concision in style, precision in thought, decision in life.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


To meditate is to labour; to think is to act.Les misérables (1862)


The animal is ignorant of the fact that he knows. The man is aware of the fact that he is ignorant.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


On this point, the priest and the philosopher agree: We must die.Les misérables (1862)


Almost all our desires, when examined, contain what we dare not avow.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.Les misérables (1862)


For the word is the Verb, and the Verb is God.The Contemplations (1856)


Those who pray always are necessary to those who never pray. In our view, the whole question is in the amount of thought that is mingled with prayer.Les misérables (1862)


A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas.Avant l'exil (1875)


We are for religion against the religions.Les misérables (1862)


He who opens a school door closes a prison.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


There is a way of meeting error while on the road of truth.Les misérables (1862)


God has set his intentions in the flowers, in the dawn, in the spring, it is his will that we should love.Toilers of the Sea (1866)


We should judge a man much more surely from what he dreams than from what he thinks.Les misérables (1862)


When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Nothing is more dangerous than discontinued labor; it is habit lost. A habit easy to abandon, difficult to resume.Les misérables (1862)


Idleness is the heaviest of all oppressions.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie (1907)


The wind of revolutions is not tractable.Les misérables (1862)


I only take a half share in the civil war; I am willing to die, I am not willing to kill.History of a Crime (1877)


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.Les misérables (1862)


To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better.Ninety-Three (1874)


Love each other dearly always. There is scarcely anything else in the world but that: to love one another.Les misérables (1862)


Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


A faith; this is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing.Les misérables (1862)


Memory is a gulf that a word can move to its lowest depths.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


The miserable’s name is Man; he is agonizing in all climes, and he is groaning in all languages.Les misérables (1862)


Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats.Villemain (1845)


Many great actions are committed in small struggles.Les misérables (1862)


The wise man does not grow old, but ripens.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Not seeing people permits us to imagine in them every perfection.Les misérables (1862)


Doing nothing is happiness for children and misery for old men.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage; they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human.Les misérables (1862)


Vengeance comes from the individual and punishment from God.The Last Day of a Condemned Man (1829)


One can no more prevent the mind from returning to an idea than the sea from returning to a shore. In the case of the sailor, this is called a tide; in the case of the guilty, it is called remorse.Les misérables (1862)


Pain is as diverse as man. One suffers as one can.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


There are many tongues to talk, and but few heads to think.Les misérables (1862)


Toleration is the best religion.Pearls of Thought (1881)


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's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


What makes night within us may leave stars.Ninety-Three (1874)


Our acts make or mar us, we are the children of our own deeds.Treasury of Thought by Maturin Murray Ballou (1884)


We are given up to those gods, those monsters, those giants: our thoughts.Ninety-Three (1874)


Love is like a tree: it shoots of itself; it strikes its roots deeply into our whole being, and frequently continues to be green over a heart in ruins. And there is this unaccountable circumstance attending it, that the blinder the passion the more tenacious it is. Never is it stronger than when it is most unreasonable.The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831)


The learned man knows that he is ignorant.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


When we are at the end of life, to die means to go away; when we are at the beginning, to go away means to die.Les misérables (1862)


Knowledge is a weight added to conscience.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


To be perfectly happy it does not suffice to possess happiness, it is necessary to have deserved it.Wise Words from Victor Hugo by Richard Cameron


When a woman is speaking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Nature is pitiless; she never withdraws her flowers, her music, her fragrance, and her sunlight from before human cruelty or suffering.Ninety-Three (1874)


When a man understands the art of seeing, he can trace the spirit of an age and the features of a king even in the knocker on a door.The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831)


Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.Les misérables (1862)


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's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


The paradise of the rich is made out of the hell of the poor.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


Taste is the common sense of genius.Victor Hugo: Dramas (1896)


What would be ugly in a garden constitutes beauty in a mountain.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


God manifests himself to us in the first degree through the life of the universe, and in the second degree through the thought of man. The second manifestation is not less holy than the first. The first is named Nature, the second is named Art.William Shakespeare (1864)


The beautiful has but one type, the ugly has a thousand.Victor Hugo: Dramas (1896)


He who is not master of his own thoughts is not accountable for his own deeds.The Man Who Laughs (1869)


People do not lack strength; they lack will.As quoted The Ohio Educational Monthly (1907)


Reaction – a boat which is going against the current but which does not prevent the river from flowing on.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


Intelligence is the wife, imagination is the mistress, memory is the servant.Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography: (Postscriptum de Ma Vie) (1907)


The ode lives upon the ideal, the epic upon the grandiose, the drama upon the real.Victor Hugo: Dramas (1896)


Nothing makes a man so adventurous as an empty pocket.The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831)


There is nothing like a dream to create the future.Les misérables (1862)


To love is to act.Last words of his diary, Complete Writings (1970)