William Shakespeare was an 1864 essay by Victor Hugo. In the essay victor Hugo paid tribute to William Shakespeare's writing style. He wrote a brief biography and commentaries on some of Shakespeare's plays. He used it as a platform to argue against the classical school of playwrights.
- "Homer, Job, Aeschylus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Lucretius, Juvenal, St. John, St. Paul, Tacitus, Dante, Rabelais, Cervantes, Shakespeare. That is the avenue of the immoveable giants of the human mind. The men of genius are a dynasty. Indeed there is no other. They wear all the crowns, even that of thorns. Each of them represents the sum total of absolute that man can realize. We repeat it, to choose between these men, to prefer one to the other, to mark with the finger the first among these first, it cannot be. All are the Mind. Perhaps, in an extreme case and yet every objection would be legitimate -- you might mark out as the highest summit among those summits, Homer, AEschylus, Job, Isaiah, Dante, and Shakespeare. It is understood that we speak here only in an Art point of view, and in Art, in the literary point of view. Two men in this group, AEschylus and Shakespeare, represent specially the drama. . . . His poetry has the sharp perfume of honey made by the vagabond bee without a hive. Here prose, there verse; all forms, being but receptacles for the idea, suit him. This poetry weeps and laughs. The English tongue, a language little formed, now assists, now harms him, but everywhere the deep mind gushes forth translucent. Shakespeare's drama proceeds with a kind of distracted rhythm, it is so vast that it staggers; it has and gives the vertigo; but nothing is so solid as this excited grandeur. Shakespeare, shuddering, has in himself the winds, the spirits, the philters, the vibrations, the fluctuations of transient breezes, the obscure penetration of effluvia, the great unknown sap. Thence his agitation, in the depth of which is repose. It is agitation in which Goethe is wanting, wrongly praised for his impassiveness, which is inferiority. This agitation, all minds of the first order have it. It is in Job, in AEschylus, in Alighieri. This agitation is humanity. -- HUGO, VICTOR, 1864, William Shakespeare"