Although he became a virtual cultural icon in France during the early years of the Third Republic (1871-1885) due primarily to the fame of such novels as Les Miserables (1862), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831), and The Toilers of the Sea (1865), Hugo suffered for his political views earlier in his career. He began his political life as a peer under the monarchy of Louis Philippe, but transferred his support to the republicans during 1848 and was elected as a deputy to the constituent assembly that was created shortly after the overthrow of Louis Philippe and establishment of the Second Republic that same year.
Although Hugo originally welcomed the future Napoleon III to France and supported the latter’s successful bid for the presidency of the Second Republic in December, 1848, he gradually alienated himself from the Bonapartist camp by his outspoken opposition to the government’s policy toward the papacy and uncompromising republicanism. This process was complete by the time Napoleon III launched his coup d’état of December, 1851. Fearing arrest, Hugo went into hiding immediately after the event and was officially sentenced to exile shortly thereafter. He moved first to Belgium (where he stayed for only a few months) and then to the Channel Islands off the coast of France, first Jersey, then Guernsey, where he lived for eighteen years.
While in exile, Hugo wrote a number of works attacking...
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