Victor Hugo Sightings in West Michigan

Victor Hugo's character "Triboulet" on whom the character of Rigoletto is based.

Victor Hugo's character "Triboulet" on whom the character of Rigoletto is based.

Yes, twice the spirit of this magisterial French author has been with us recently.

The first time was in a television clip assigned to us by our AFdeGR French prof, Rita Selles, where, during the tour of the French Sénat, the seat in which Victor Hugo sat when a member in the mid-1800s was highlighted.

The second time was when I learned that Verdi based his play "Rigoletto" on Victor Hugo’s play L’roi s’amuse, a play which had been censored because of perceived criticism of the ruling government. After seeing the opera, with its scenes of a debauched and corrupt court, I had to find out what fiend of the Les-Liaison-Dangereuses type ruled during Hugo’s lifetime! The ruler proved to be Louis Philippe I, not a king notorious for leading a decadent court. Why was the play censored, then? Not because Victor Hugo was denouncing Louis Philippe for womanizing and encouraging womanizing, as François I did, in whose court the play was set, but because he was critical of Louise Philippe’s authoritarian and conservative tendencies.

Ah, well, Victor Hugo’s life has ended, but the controversies never have, have they.

By Ellen VanderMey

New Newsletter Format
For several weeks now, we’ve been sending a “Posts from News-Alliance Française de Grand Rapids” to your email address, usually on a Sunday. This replaces our traditional newsletter. In this weekly blog, edited by Steve Soper, you’ll find news about our chapter’s programs and events, as well as bits and pieces of interest about French culture and language.  Merci beaucoup to all those who contributed to and edited the newsletter over the years! We hope the weekly Posts, too, will contribute to the enjoyment and edification of life with a French accent!

French Conversation Date
Let your French conversation skills blossom.  Linda FitzGerald will lead a French conversation group Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 7:00 to 8:15 pm at the Meijer Gardens Cafeteria. (entrance to the cafeteria is free). All members of all French language skill levels are cordially invited.  Hope to see you there!