Victor Hugo is considered to be one of the greatest French writers of all time. His most famous works are the novels The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831) and Les Misérables (1862).
From the NYT:
The statue of Victor Hugo has loomed outside the city hall of his birthplace, situated on the Esplanade for Human Rights, since 2003, his white beard knotty, his black suit rumpled, his face cast down at his pocket watch.
Over the years, the colored bronze began to fade, turning to brown and green, until the mayor’s office recently hired an expert to do a restoration.
And that is when the seemingly unremarkable refurbishment of a statue turned into another controversy in France about race, identity and the importation of American “woke” ideas about racial injustice — what the French call “le wokisme.”
This being the New York Times, none of the nine photos accompanying the article show what the recent colorization that so many Frenchmen objected to looked like. That would be too interesting. Instead, NYT subscribers want their articles to be blandly reassuring.
But I quickly found a picture and it’s a doozy. From News in France, here’s the statue before and after its colorization:
But you can’t show a picture like that in the NYT because it would be counter-Narrative.
Hmmm. Tribalism in action. Here’s the original statue and it’s late African sculptor, who looks like the new version of the statue:
What did Victor Hugo actually look like? Did he have “light-brown skin”?
Yes. Yes, there was.
But — and follow me closely here — that writer wasn’t, technically speaking, Victor Hugo, author of the The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was, instead, Hugo’s friend and rival Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers.
So, by process of association, that must mean Hugo was sort of a mulatto too.
Except, he wasn’t. In contrast to Dumas, here’s an 1825 painting of Hugo at age 23:
In an age of tribalism, there is political advantage in claiming anyone good for one’s tribe. Truth? Bah.