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Baudelaire dismissed Victor Hugo as 'an idiot' in unseen letter

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In contrast to public praise of Les Misérables author, correspondence reveals private contempt

Victor Hugo, revered author of Les Misérables and towering French literary giant, was also something of a nuisance at least according to his contemporary and fellow poet Charles Baudelaire.

In a January 1860 letter to an unknown correspondent, Baudelaire bemoans how Hugo "keeps on sending me stupid letters", adding that Hugo's continuing missives have inspired him "to write an essay showing that, by a fatal law, a genius is always an idiot". The letter is being auctioned by Christie's in New York, alongside a first edition of Baudelaire's celebrated poetry collection Les Fleurs du Mal, containing the six poems that were deleted from the second edition. The set is expected to fetch up to $100,000 (£60,000), according to the auction house.

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