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Visit the Hugo Memorial

  In May of this year, when I traveled to Paris on a business trip, I once again visited the Victor Hugo Memorial Hall, the great French writer. This is my third visit to the Hugo Memorial Hall. Over time, it feels fresher and more intimate.
  
  1. The first time
  
  I visited the Hugo Memorial was in 1969, when I first went to work at the embassy in France. Although I read a few words of Hugo’s novels when I was in college and knew that Hugo was a well-known great writer, but after all, lack of systematic understanding, can not help but have a hazy impression.
  The second time I visited the Hugo Memorial was in 1989 when I went to work in the French embassy again. At that time, I had already read Hugo’s famous works such as Notre Dame de Paris, Les Miserables, The Laughing Man, and 1993. After reading these classic works, I have a preliminary understanding of Hugo’s status and influence in French and even world literature as a great French bourgeois-democratic thinker and a great novelist, poet and playwright.
  This May was my third visit to the Hugo Memorial. In Paris in early summer, a hundred flowers are in full bloom, and everything is in full bloom. Facing the warm sunshine, we drove straight from the hotel to the Hugo Memorial.
  The Hugo Memorial is located at 6 Place des Vosges in Paris. Hugo lived here for 16 years from 1832 to 1848 with his wife and four children. At that time, Hugo only rented the second floor of the building, with an area of ​​about 280 square meters. It was here that Hugo completed his masterpiece “Notre Dame de Paris” and wrote a large part of the famous book “Les Miserables”. In 1902, to commemorate the centenary of Hugo’s birth, his old friend Paul Morris donated the entire building to the Paris city government and rebuilt it into the current Hugo Memorial. The entire Hugo Memorial Hall has three floors from the ground floor to the attic.
  Take the ticket and enter the door, go up the steps, and the visit starts from the exhibition hall on the second floor. Whether it is a social living room, a study, or a bedroom, all the wallpapers in full bloom are used to create a magnificent atmosphere. At the end of the corridor is Hugo’s bedroom. The French Louis XIII style woodcarved four-poster bed is matched with a scarlet velvet sofa. The multi-drawer long cabinet beside the bed is placed with blue and white porcelain and cloisonne. The fresh texture passes through time and conveys the delicacy of Hugo. Mind, in a limited space, shows Hugo’s extremely rich and extraordinary life.
  In an exhibition hall, we saw a portrait of Juliet Drouet in his youth, who followed Hugo for 50 years and appeared in the history books as “Hugo’s Lover”. Next to the portrait is a verse that Hugo vaguely described his lover in “Inner Voice”:
  ”You haven’t seen her yet, that night / The stars appeared in the sky / She suddenly came before you, fresh and beautiful…”   Two
  
I am particularly interested in a Chinese-style living room.
  
Here, porcelain with oriental texture and moist time, such as bowls, plates, vases, tea sets, etc., are carefully inlaid on the walls of the room, silently conveying some good memories. The cabinets and wall panels of the China Hall are carved with auspicious patterns such as orchid, bamboo, plum, and phoenix. Cuiwei separates the red shadow”. On one wall in the hall are bamboo and silk paintings, depicting Chinese gods, such as three-eyed Yang Jian and Daotong alchemy. The other wall is decorated with woodcuts, and Chinese flowers, civil servants and generals are lifelike. One of the teenagers with a big top is painted with layers of shadows, and his features are very expressive. The characters are all dressed in the Qing Dynasty and wear small caps with melon skins. There is also a wall, decorated with porcelain, mostly blue and white dishes. The roof is decorated with bamboo paintings, an octagonal palace lantern hangs in the center, and the eight sides are painted with ladies. Lacquered wood furniture, porcelain, painting and calligraphy, palace lanterns, lanterns, door gods, Shou Xinggong, Guanyin statues… Every antique record reflects Hugo’s talent and unique aesthetic.
  According to reports, this is the “China Room” specially designed by Hugo for his lover Juliet Drouet when he lived in Guernsey, England. From 1863 to 1864, Hugo, who was in his early years, spent nearly a year designing and renovating the house himself, and Juliet then moved in until the end of exile. For a long time, Hugo and Juliet have been obsessed with oriental culture, and they often go shopping for Chinese art and antiques together. The talented Hugo is also a painter with extraordinary talent. From appreciating Chinese art to imitating directly, all the woodcarving works in this living room, such as flowers, portraits, life scenes, etc., were created and painted by Hugo himself. In most of the works, Hugo is subtly inlaid with the initials “V·H” and “J·D” of his or his lover’s name. Later, the entire Chinese Hall was moved from Guernsey Island to the second floor of this former residence. Wandering in the China Hall, you can feel the French writer’s love for Chinese culture from every corner.
  
  3. When I
  
  lingered in the exhibition rooms of Hugo’s former residence, I remembered that in February of this year, the French Christie’s auction house, despite China’s opposition, still auctioned the bronze statues of the Yuanmingyuan rat and rabbit heads that the Chinese people paid attention to and lost overseas, came to my mind. I remembered Hugo’s “Letter to Captain Bartlett on the Anglo-French Allied Forces Expedition to China” that I had read carefully many years ago. In the letter, Hugo described the brilliant value of the Yuanmingyuan, and angrily denounced the crime of destroying the oriental culture by the invading army. Hugo said in the letter:
  ”In a certain corner of the world, there is a wonder of the world, this wonder is called the Yuanmingyuan… We often say: Greece has the Parthenon, Egypt has the pyramids, Rome has the Colosseum, Paris has the Notre Dame, there is the Old Summer Palace in the east. If you have not seen it, you will have dreamed of it. This is a terrifying masterpiece that has never been seen before. It looks like a towering tower from a distance in the mysterious morning light A hazy outline of an Asian civilization on the horizon of European civilization.
  But this miracle has now disappeared.
  One day, two robbers broke into the Yuanmingyuan. One robber ransacked, the other set fire…
  We Europeans, we are civilized people, The Chinese are savages to us. This is what civilization does to savagery. In the face of history, these two robbers, one robber named France and the other robber named England. But I protest. I thank you for giving me this opportunity Let me make it clear: the crimes committed by the rulers are not the fault of the ruled; governments are sometimes robbers, and people are never robbers.
  The French Empire devoured half of this victory; today the Empire naively thinks that I am the real owner, and I put on display the splendid rubbish of the Yuanmingyuan. I hope that one day, the liberated and clean France will return this loot to the plundered China.” For
  a moment of memory, think about the rain Guo’s anger and hope, and then look at the behavior of Christie’s auction house, I have a lot of thoughts. We would solemnly affirm that China has unquestionable ownership of the bronze statues of rat and rabbit heads in Yuanmingyuan, which were looted by the British and French forces during the war and lost overseas for many years. Auctioning the cultural relics illegally looted in the war not only hurts the feelings of the Chinese people and damages the cultural rights and interests of the Chinese people, but also goes against the relevant international conventions.
  Walking out of No. 6 Vosges Place, looking back at the memorial hall, I am full of thoughts and emotions. French writers are like forests, and their works are like clouds. Besides Hugo, which French writer has a soft spot for Chinese culture, and which French writer has condemned the Anglo-French coalition for burning down the Yuanmingyuan. Hugo is worthy of being a literary master admired by people all over the world. He spoke for the poor, for the weak, for the rights of women and children, for the oppressed nations and people, and wrote poems, novels, plays, political theories and literature. Criticism, and an uncompromising fight against injustice and injustice.

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