When you think of Victor Hugo, what image comes to mind? Perhaps it is the image of the wizened old writer, looking thoroughly sagacious with his long white beard and contemplative pose. Or perhaps the image you get is one of a young, intrepid looking man, hunched over a writing desk and hard at work. What you might not think of when you imagine the author of classics such as Les Miserables and the Hunchback of Notre Dame is a libertine with an insatiable appetite for sex and a highly passionate and fiery personality.
Indeed, the true Victor Hugo sounds less like a respected playwright and more like a rock star from the 70s or 80s where debauchery and hardcore partying had become the norm. A couple of Hugo’s habits will help you better understand his eccentric personality. For example, he used to prefer to write while completely naked as this was the only way in which he felt free enough to let his creativity run loose and allow him to capture each and every facet of his imagination until it became the sort of thing that he could truly channel in whatever direction he chose. Another habit of his was to eat oranges whole at parties in order to impress people. Suffice it to say that people were definitely very impressed indeed whenever Hugo managed to swallow an entire orange whole.
Yes, Victor Hugo was a huge party animal. He was famous for being the life of the party during the days of his prime. For a long period in his life, Hugo never had dinner alone. Instead he would entertain around 30 people every single day for dinner, and some of these soirees ended up turning into full blown parties. Indeed, he was such a huge partier that even his funeral ended up turning into a party. If that doesn’t sound like the funeral of a rock star, we don’t know what does!
Hugo was also very obsessed with how famous he was. Indeed, it can be quite difficult for someone so famous that the very street they are living on ends up being named after them to not get a bit of a big head in this regard. In the dinner parties that have been mentioned above, one of the main events of the night would be when Hugo would read out a list of reasons why he was better than all of his contemporaries.
All in all, Victor Hugo lived a very exciting and fulfilling life, one that involved a lot of different phases and throughout all of them he remained the literary great that he is now remembered as. It is important to read up on figures like Hugo so that we can begin to understand the method to their madness and add facets to their characters. We often don’t pay as much attention to the personalities of authors as we do to musicians. Victor Hugo can teach us why this needs to change.