The 155th of the publication of the final chapter of Les Miserables was marked by Google today with a Doodle of author Victor Hugo. The Frenchman was a poet, and novelist by the age of 30 and also contributed The Hunchback of Notre-Dame to the literary canon, but he is remembered as a politician or even a saint as much as he is a man of words. He was a fierce human rights activist and, after being elected to France's National Assembly in 1848, dissented from conservatives and called for universal suffrage, education for all children, and an end to poverty.
He became such an icon and champion of the poor in France that on his 80th birthday in on 27 June, 1881 paraders marched past his house, where he was sat at a window, for six hours. Avenue d'Eylau on which Hugo lived was the next day changed to Avenue Victor-Hugo, and the story goes that all future letters sent to the author were addressed: "To Mister Victor, In his avenue, Paris". Hugo would only live four more years but was an activist to the end, requesting a pauper's funeral (though he was awarded a state funeral by decree of President Jules Grévy) and saying in his five-line will: "I leave 50,000 francs to the poor. I want to be buried in their hearse. I refuse [funeral] orations of all churches. I beg a prayer to all souls. I believe in God." His belief in the necessity of turning one's empathy with fellow man into real change was most succinctly put in his last words however, written as a note two days before his death from pneumonia "To love is to act."
-article taken from the Independent 6/30/17