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Victor Hugo: Peace will supersede war, perhaps sooner than people think


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

French writers on war and peace

Victor Hugo: Selections on war


Victor Hugo
From William Shakespeare
Translator unknown

Some day, sooner perhaps than some people think, the charge with the bayonet will be itself superseded by peace, at first European, by-and-by universal, and then a whole science – the military science – will vanish away. For that science, its improvement lies in its disappearance.


Greece did not colonize without civilizing, – an example that more than one modern nation might follow. To buy and sell is not everything.

This civilization by poetry and art had such a mighty force that sometime it subdued even war. The Sicilians – Plutarch relates it in speaking of Nicias – gave liberty to the Greek prisoners who sang the verses of Euripides.


That which Isaiah made a reproach of in his day – idolatry, pride, war, prostitution, ignorance – still exists. Isaiah is the eternal contemporary of vices which turn valets, and crimes which exalt themselves into kings.


Faith is an ignorance which professes to know, and which, in certain cases, knows perhaps more than Science.

The dread of genius is the first step toward taste.

Humanity developing itself from the interior to the exterior is, properly speaking, civilization. Human intelligence becomes radiance, and step by step, wins, conquers, and humanizes matter. Sublime domestication!

A poet must at the same time, and necessarily, be a historian and a philosopher.

Art has, like the Infinite, a Because superior to all Why’s?

God creates by intuition; man creates by inspiration, strengthened by observation. This second creation, which is nothing else but divine action carried out by man, is what is called genius.

Types are cases foreseen by God: genius realizes them…Types go and come firmly in art and in Nature. They are the ideals realized. The good and the evil of man are in these figures. From each of them results, in the eyes of the thinker, a humanity.

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