Hugo, Victor (1802–1885)
The great French romantic novelist. He was keenly interested
in Spiritism. He wrote, ‘‘To avoid phenomena, to make
them bankrupt of the attention to which they have a right, is
to make bankrupt truth itself.’’ Hugo left an unpublished
manuscript on Spiritism in the possession of Paul Meurice, who
died in 1905. It appears that he had his first experiences in
table turning in September 1853 at the home of a Mme. de Girardin
during his period on the island of Jersey after he was exiled
from France by Napoleon III in 1852. Hugo at first refused
to attend the séance but was greatly moved when the table
spelled out the name of his lost daughter Leopoldine. Soon
regular communications were established.
The sitters included General Le Flo, Count Paul Teleki,
Charles Hugo, one Vacquerie, and Mme. Hugo. Victor Hugo
himself was never at the table, sometimes not even in the room.
Many symbolical personages came through, including ‘‘the
Lion of Androcles,’’ ‘‘the Ass of Balaam,’’ and ‘‘the Dove of
Noah.’’ ‘‘The Shadow of the Tomb’’ expressed itself in verse in
the style and language of Victor Hugo, with all the grandiloquence
of romantic poetry. Sometimes verse in the same style
was signed by ‘‘Aeschylus.’’ ‘‘Shakespeare’’ challenged Hugo to
a poetic competition. ‘‘André Chenier,’’ the guillotined poet,
finished the fragmentary poem that was interrupted by his execution.
Charles Hugo was the principal medium in all these experiments.
In 1892, seven years after Victor Hugo’s death, the spirit of
Victor Hugo, or a secondary personality assuming the name,
appeared as the control of Hélène Smith, the medium, famous
for her pseudo-Martian communication. ‘‘Victor’’ was in exclusive
control for five months. After a struggle lasting for a year
he was ousted by another control, ‘‘Leopold,’’ the so-called
spirit of Cagliostro.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Ebon, Martin. They Knew the Unknown. New York New
American Library, 1971.
Flournoy, Theodor. From India to the Planet Mars. Reprint,
New Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books, 1963.
Grillet, Claudius Victor Hugo Spirite. Paris, 1929.
Malo, Henry. Life of Delphine Gray. N.p., 1925.
Sudre, René. ‘‘The Case of Victor Hugo and the Collective
Psychism.’’ Psychic Research 23 (1971)

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