There are more than 2000 literary awards, including hundreds named after the most famous writers: Flaubert, Apollinaire, Maupassant… But strangely no prize bears the mark of Victor Hugo who distinguished himself in all genres: novel, essay, poetry , theater, pamphlet, journalism. Since March 4, the error has finally been corrected. The first Victor-Hugo prize was awarded, in Paris, to the Brasserie Victor Hugo, which was self-evident.

A quick word on the spirit of this new award, which wishes to highlight not only the novel, but is looking more towards the essay or the biography, even the pamphlet, less rewarded genres. It is above all a question of saluting today the spirit of freedom and courageous texts. Thus it is underlined that “the authors are admitted to compete either of biographies of Victor Hugo or of one of his relatives, or of essays, pamphlets, novels, or ’things seen’, illustrating the defense of the freedoms of thought and expression, the right to impartial justice, the universal right to education, and resistance to totalitarianism. » The line is drawn.

This award is placed under the sponsorship of Madame Marie Hugo, a direct descendant of the writer. It was created on the initiative of Françoise Chandernagor and Angela Assouline-Yadgaroff.

When it was announced, we learned that Sir Michael Edwards, of the Académie française, is the honorary president and Françoise Chandernagor, of the Académie Goncourt, the president: “Thus the two most prestigious French literary institutions are brought together around named after Victor Hugo”, it is underlined in the presentation file. The general secretariat is provided by Angela Assouline-Yadgaroff.

In addition to Françoise Chandernagor, the jury is made up of Jean-François Braunstein, Simon Bentolila, Benoît Duteurtre, Eric Fottorino, Franz-Olivier Giesbert, Arnaud Laster, Florence Naugrette, Camille Pascal, and Malika Sorel-Sutter. In January, the jury met for the first time and made their selection with Woke Fiction by Samuel Fitoussi, Until Death Ensued by Olivier Rolin, La Gloire de Notre-Dame by Maryvonne by Saint Pulgent, Victor Hugo, The Convict of Letters by Agnès Sandras and The Altered Word by François Taillandier.


And it was the magnificent book by Maryvonne de Saint Pulgent which was crowned. We praised it when it was published: “In a brilliant, dense and fascinating essay, the former Director of Heritage easily shows that the Paris Cathedral is inseparable from the political, religious, diplomatic and artistic history of France. Romantic story too, with Victor Hugo. This is at the origin of the entry into literature of Notre-Dame, but also of a “fantasy” since the cathedral is considered by some as a great book of occultism”, wrote Etienne de Montety in his column (see Le Figaro littéraire of December 14, 2023) and spoke of a “masterful book”. And added: “Maryvonne de Saint Pulgent has all the talents: her account of the night of April 15 is that of a great reporter, that of the tribulations between the royal power and that of the clerics, between Gallicans and ultramontanes are of a scrupulous historian. And that of Viollet’s ups and downs? From a storyteller who always educates, and never bores. We do not have a “beautiful book” in the sense that we understand it as an imposing work composed of magnificent commented illustrations. Here, the words of a scholar are supported by photos of the building or the protagonists of her gesture. And in doing so, we can safely say that in the eyes of the reader, Maryvonne de Saint Pulgent adds a few rays of light to the glory of Notre-Dame. »

The Victor Hugo Prize is endowed with 10,000 euros thanks to the support of its patrons.