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Victor Hugo gets Twitter lashing after crashing French exam

Photo courtesy of Archives Photographiques, Paris

French writer Victor Hugo has become the target of colourful insults on Twitter after pupils taking the French baccalauréat nationwide were asked to write an essay about one of his poems as part of the exam.


Just hours after the standardised test on Wednesday, generally taken at the end of secondary school, Victor Hugo’s name was being mentioned hundreds of times on Twitter – but rarely in flattering terms.

“Victor Hugo is a bastard, can’t he speak normally like others?” was one of the countless remarks about the author who penned classics such as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Les Misérables".

“Victor Hugo you’re a real jerk with your stupid Dusk,” another young Twitter user said in reference to the poem, titled 'Crépuscule' (Dusk), which pupils were asked to consider and write on.

In the poem, Hugo imagines a conversation between life, symbolised by a blade of grass, and death. A grave implores those still living to love each other before their time above the ground runs out.

“Finished the test. Victor Hugo spanked me more in four hours than pops did during my whole childhood,” noted yet another exam-taker, with his own dose of poetic flair.

Others were less glib. “F*** Victor Hugo,” said Twitter subscriber @tineva, choosing the English language to express her low opinion of France’s best-known writer.

“Victor Hugo” was still one of the most commonly cited names on Twitter on Thursday morning, but many had come to the artist’s defence.

“A reminder to teens out there: Victor Hugo fought against the death penalty and segregation, so he’s not just a perfect a**hole,” said someone taking issue with the online bashing of the literary great.

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