Victor Hugo’s alphabet

Have you noticed how picturesque the letter Y is and how innumerable its meanings are? The tree is a Y, the junction of two roads forms a Y two converging rivers, a donkey’s head and that of an ox, the glass with its stem, the lily on its stalk and the beggar lifting his arms are a Y. This observation can be extended to every thing that constitutes the elements of the various letters devised by man. Whatever there is in the demotic language has been instilled into it by the hieratic language. Hieroglyphics are the root of letters. All characters were originally signs and all signs were once images. Human society, the world, man in his entirety is in the alphabet. Masonry, astronomy, philosophy, all the sciences start here, imperceptible but real, and it must be so. The alphabet is a source.

A is the roof with its rafters and traverse – beam, the arch, or it is like two friends who embrace and shake hands. D is the back, and B is a D on a second D, that is a “double back” – the hump; C is the crescent, is  the moon, E is the foundation of the pillar and the roof – all architecture contained in a single letter. F is the gallows, the fork, G is the horn, H is the façade of a building with its two towers, I is the war machine that projectiles, J is the plough, the horn of plenty, K signifies one of the basic laws of geometry: (the angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence), L is the leg and the foot, M is the mountain, or the camp within tents, N is the door, closed with a crossbar, O is the sun, P is the porter carrying a burden, Q is the croup and the tail, R signifies rest, the porter leaning on this stick, S is the snake, T is the hammer, U is the urn, V is the vase (that is why U and V are often confused). I have already said what Y signifies. X signifies crossed swords, combat – who will be victor? Nobody knows – that is why philosophers used “X” to signify fate, and the mathematicians took it for the unknown. Z is the lightning – is God.

So, first comes the house of man, and its construction, then the human body, its build and deformities; then justice, music, the church; war, harvest, geometry; the mountain, nomadic life and secluded life, astronomy, toil and rest; the horse and the snake; the hammer and the urn which – turned over and struck – makes a bell; trees, rivers, roads and finally destiny and God: This is what the alphabet signifies.


(main text from YouMightFindYourself)

One response to “Victor Hugo’s alphabet

  1. If you are the Jack Dyson that wrote a piece on Eagle hunting with Kazakh nomads, I’d like to get in touch with you. My name is Peter Coyote (you might know who I am) You can reach me at If this is the wrong person, I apologize for disturbing you.

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