November 28, 2012
“Un jour viendra où les armes vous tomberont des mains, à vous aussi ! Un jour viendra où la guerre paraîtra aussi absurde et sera aussi impossible entre Paris et Londres, entre Pétersbourg et Berlin, entre Vienne et Turin, qu’elle serait impossible et qu’elle paraîtrait absurde aujourd’hui entre Rouen et Amiens, entre Boston et Philadelphie. Un jour viendra où la France, vous Russie, vous Italie, vous Angleterre, vous Allemagne, vous toutes, nations du continent, sans perdre vos qualités distinctes et votre glorieuse individualité, vous vous fondrez étroitement dans une unité supérieure”
“A day will come when your arms will fall even from your hands! A day will come when war will seem as absurd and impossible between Paris and London, between Petersburg and Berlin, between Vienna and Turin, as it would be impossible and would seem absurd today between Rouen and Amiens, between Boston and Philadelphia. A day will come when you France, you Russia, you Italy, you England, you Germany, you all, nations of the continent, without losing your distinct qualities and your glorious individuality, will be merged closely within a superior unit and you will form the European brotherhood.”
Victor Hugo, au Congrès de la Paix de 1849.
Victor Hugo is arguably one of the most celebrated and most distinguished European writers of the 19th century. His works became a French national treasure and have been passed on from generation to generation. Hugo also had a colourful political career, beginning life as a monarchist but later spending some years in exile as a quasi-republican. To this end, he can be characterised as having had a great influence on both the arts and on politics. With the arts, his work became popular (first appearing as an appealing romance novel), translating higher ideals of freedom, justice and equality into emotional prose. His work would also play a role in shaping the work of the next generation of romantic writers. On politics, his work became a magnet for political dissidents, as he later remained in exile in protest against Napoleon III social injustices’, despite having been invited back to Paris.
Literature and politics are wonderful companions; indeed not only Mr. Hug0, but many others have sought to bring the two together. (In no particular order), Achebe, Wilde, Dickens, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Burke, Paine, Rochester and so many more, in many different languages, ages and cultures. Through words and writing, mankind communicates and becomes society, whilst politics is peaceful negotiation in society.
About the blog
This blog will try to offer as far as possible a balanced (note I will try and be balanced!) and creative discussion on key European questions, frequently turning to great pieces of literature for comparison, inspiration and analogy. I insist on comparison because it is futile to try and understand events in isolation I hope that this will:
a. Make the blog more readable and enjoyable
b. Offer alternative insights based as a result of an alternative lens
I am a student of European Affairs at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (alternatively Sciences Po). I am a British national by origin but born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. Which means that I come from two nations boasting tepid to frigid views of European integration. I am hoping this will add a distinct flavour to my musings, although I do not consider myself a “Euro-skeptic”, “Euro-phobic”, or any other “Euro+suffix”. I do enjoy European languages, European cities and European food. Perhaps this makes me a “Euro-gourmet”.
In a previous chapter of life I studied English Language & Literature at Oxford University, which therefore developed my penchant for story-telling, analogy, metaphor and satire.
Author : Kimberley Botwright