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Victor Hugo: From fratricide to fraternity


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace

Victor Hugo: Selections on war


Victor Hugo
From Memoirs
Translated by John W. Harding

December 11 (1870). – Rostan came to see me. He has his arm in a sling. He was wounded at Creteil. It was at night. A German soldier rushed at him and pierced his arm with a bayonet. Rostan retaliated with a bayonet thrust in the German’s shoulder. Both fell and rolled into a ditch. Then they became good friends. Rostan speaks a little broken German.

“Who are you?”

“I am a Wurtembergian. I am twenty-two years old. My father is a clockmaker of Leipsic.”

They remained in the ditch for three hours, bleeding, numb with cold, helping each other. Rostan, wounded, brought the man who wounded him back as a prisoner. He goes to see him at the hospital. These two men adore each other. They wanted to kill each other, and now they would die for each other.

Eliminate kings from the dispute!


January 2 – Daumier and Louis Blanc lunched with us. Louis Koch gave to his aunt as a New Year gift a couple of cabbages and a brace of living partridges!

This morning we lunched on wine soup. The elephant at the Jardin des Plantes has been slaughtered. He wept. He will be eaten.

The Prussians continue to send us 6,000 bombs a day,

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