Unmasking the Bourgeoise

Private Life

A Love Story




Real Life



To men, he discoursed of his hopes and plans and even his forecasts for the future; to women, of their beauty and the supremacy of such a gift. Men found his arrogance intoleratable and complained that they must either always listen, or talk to him of himself. But women liked him for abasing his pride before them; they appreciated his good manners, his urbanity, and the incomparable art with which he cast his laurels at their feet. The god took on humanity for them; they were careful to pose as goddesses before him.

Victor Hugo's sexual energies were vast. As a young man, he upheld stern morality. Yet, his own desires were not easily satisfied--he could make love nine times a day. He has an official wife, Adele, and a mistress, whom he maintained in a humiliatingly smaller home two and a half miles away. Then, he resolutely cheated on both wives with actresses, maids, the barber's wife, his son's mistress, and anybody else who proved vulnerable to a seductive recitation of rhymed couplets by France's greatest master of the rhymed couplet (Berman, 76). He grew fond of prostitutes, too, and in later years visited them daily, which probably sprang the origin of Fantine. Even when he was in his seventies, his distressed family had to conspire to keep the frisky old poet from escaping into the streets in search of adventures in no one knew what shady corner of Paris. And these amorous enthusiasms were expressed not just in flesh but in verse-the lyric odes of courtly and mischevious, a little too please with himself to push into the darker zones of sensual, but flirty amusement

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