CAM18 - Test 4 - Part 4 (Listen and Read)

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CAM18 - Test 4 - Part 4
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The person I've chosen to talk about is the French writer Victor Hugo -
many people have heard of him because his novel, Les Miserables,
which he wrote in 1862, is famous around the world.
It became a stage musical in the 1980s,
and a film version was also released in 2012.
So, some of us, I'm sure, have a pretty general idea of the plot,
but we know much less about the author.
Today, I'm going to provide a little more insight into this talented man
and I'm going to talk particularly about the home he had on the island of Guernsey in the British Channel Islands.
But first, his early career...
as I've said, he was a writer,
he was at the height of his career in Paris
and he was very highly regarded by his colleagues.
As far as literature was concerned,
he was the leading figure of the Romantic movement.
However, as well as being a literary genius,
he also gave many speeches about issues like the level of poverty in his society.
He felt very strongly about this
and about other areas where change was needed, like education.
This kind of outspoken criticism was not well liked by the rulers of France
and, eventually, the emperor - Napoleon III -
told Victor Hugo to leave Paris and not return;
in other words, he sent him into exile.
So Victor Hugo was forced to reside in other parts of Europe.
Guernsey was actually his third place of exile
and he landed there in 1855.
He produced a lot while on Guernsey - including Les Miserables -
and to do this, he had to spend a great deal of time in the home that he had there.
This was a property that he bought using the money he'd made in France
from the publication of a collection of his poetry.
It was the only property he ever owned, and he was very proud of it.
The property Victor Hugo bought on Guernsey was a large, five-storey house in the capital town of St Peter Port
and he lived there for 15 years,
returning to France in 1870 when Napoleon's Empire collapsed.
He decorated and furnished each level, or floor, of the house in unique and wonderful ways,
and many people consider the inside of the house to be a 'work of art'.
Today it's a museum that attracts 200,000 visitors a year.
He lived in the house with his family...
and portraits of its members still hang in rooms on the ground floor,
along with drawings that he did during his travels that he felt were important to him.
In other ground-floor rooms, there are huge tapestries
that he would have designed and loved.
The walls are covered in dark wood panelling that Victor Hugo created himself
using wooden furniture that he bought in the market.
The items were relatively inexpensive,
and he used them to create intricate carvings.
They gave an atmosphere on the lower level that was shadowy and rather solemn.
On the next level of the house there are two impressive lounges,
where he entertained his guests.
One lounge has entirely red furnishings,
such as sofas and wall coverings, and the other blue.
There's a strong Chinese influence in these areas
in things like the wallpaper pattern and the lamps -
which he would have made himself by copying original versions.
His library, where he left many of his favourite books,
forms the hallway to the third floor
and was a comfortable area where he could relax and enjoy his afternoons.
And then, at the very top of the house,
there's a room called the Lookout -
called that because it looks out over the harbour.
In contrast to the rather dark lower levels,
it's full of light and was like a glass office where he would write until lunchtime -
often at his desk.
So, Victor Hugo was a man of many talents,
but he was also true to his values.
While living in his house on Guernsey,
he entertained many other famous writers,
but he also invited a large group of local children from the deprived areas of the island to dinner once a week.
What's more, he served them their food,
which was an extraordinary gesture for the time period.
In 1927, the house was owned by his relatives,
and they decided to donate it to the city of Paris.
It has since been restored using photographs from the period
and, as I mentioned earlier, is now a museum that is open to the public.
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