You may read any number of more "realistic" accounts of the French Revolution, but Hugo's is the one you will remember. He is not a reporter of the momentary, but an artist who projects the essential and fundamental. He is not a statistician of gutter trivia, but a Romanticist who presents life "as it might be and ought to be." He is the worshipper and the superlative portrayer of man's greatness.
If you are struggling to hold your vision of man above the gray ashes of our century, Hugo is the fuel you need.
One cannot preserve that vision or achieve it without some knowledge of what is greatness and some image to concretize it. Every morning, when you read today's headlines, you shrink a little in human stature and hope. Then, if you turn to modern literature for a nobler view of man, you are confronted by those cases of arrested development—the juvenile delinquents aged thirty to sixty—who still think that depravity is daring or shocking, and whose writing belongs, not on paper, but on fences.
If you feel, as I do, that there's nothing as boring as depravity, if you seek a glimpse of human grandeur—turn to a novel by Victor Hugo.
"Ninety-Three", The Ayn Rand Column, p.42