La Maison de Victor Hugo

IMG_20141213_144837 I attempted to learn French several years ago by reading Les Miserable, in French, unabridged. This turns out to be a terrible way to learn a language if you ever want to speak it someday. I did however, at one time, know about fifteen different synonyms and metaphorical ways to refer to the sewers of Paris.  Not very useful in everyday conversation, nor is conjugating all of your verbs in the passé simple likely to not make you sound odd to a normal French person.  (On the other hand, it does turn out to be remarkably handy for reading the labels in museums.) Moreover, what you hear in your head when reading a foreign language you haven’t learned verbally, even it the meaning is comprehended by you, is somewhat less likely to be understood when spoken aloud. At any rate, the next stop on our tour of Paris is the one-time home of Victor Hugo, now a museum. IMG_20141213_145436 The apartment where he once lived sits at 6 Place des Voges, on the corner of a park. Even in December in the rain, one could do  worse that the view from his windows. IMG_20141213_150427 Inside, the ceilings are about 12 or 14 ft high. This, if I recall correctly, is a reassembly of a room he decorated himself—he did more than just write—in the Chinese style. Not in this apartment, but for his mistress in a house they owned jointly on Jersey or Guernsey. (One of the two, he lived on both.) Chacun a son goût, I guess. IMG_20141213_142219 A copy of Hugo’s birth certificate. He was born in February of 1802, even if that’s not immediately obvious from his birth certificate. It being 1802, France was still using the ludicrous revolutionary calendar. (Thirty day months. Ten day weeks. Etc. Behold the triumph of Reason.) Hence the first line: Du huitième du mois de ventôse l’an Dix de la République. In English: the eighth of the windy month in the tenth year of the Republic. (They also experimented with the even more absurd decimal time, though that failed to catch on, though not for lack of trying.) C’est tout. One more week of work, and then two weeks vacation. It’s not a bad life.

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