Books: Notable

VICTOR HUGO

by JOANNA RICHARDSON

334 pages. St. Martin's Press. $14.95.

At the age of 15 he wrote a poem that won the notice of the Academic Française. At the age of 83 he died, shortly after composing his last Alexandrine. During the decades between he came to think of himself as Olympic—an apt sobriquet, for Victor Hugo lived life with the vigor and ego of a Greek god. Once, when Hugo was about 80, his teen-age grandson found the old man making love to a young laundress. "Look," said Hugo proudly, "that is what...

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