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Notre-Dame de Paris (Annotated): The hunchback of Notre-Dame (Learn French by reading Book 27) PDF, ePub eBook

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Notre-Dame de Paris (Annotated): The hunchback of Notre-Dame (Learn French by reading Book 27) PDF, ePub eBook Esmeralda captures the hearts of many men, including those of Captain Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire, but especially Quasimodo and his adoptive father, Archdeacon Claude Frollo. Frollo is torn between his obsessive lust and the rules of the church. He orders Quasimodo to kidnap her, but the hunchback is captured by Phoebus and his guards, who save Esmeralda. The following da Esmeralda captures the hearts of many men, including those of Captain Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire, but especially Quasimodo and his adoptive father, Archdeacon Claude Frollo. Frollo is torn between his obsessive lust and the rules of the church. He orders Quasimodo to kidnap her, but the hunchback is captured by Phoebus and his guards, who save Esmeralda. The following day, Quasimodo is sentenced to be flogged and turned on the pillory for one hour, followed by another hour's public exposure. He calls for water. Esmeralda, seeing his thirst, approaches the public stocks and offers him a drink of water. It saves him, and she captures his heart. Esmeralda is later charged with the attempted murder of Phoebus, whom Frollo actually attempted to kill in jealousy after seeing him trying to seduce Esmeralda, and is tortured and sentenced to death by hanging. As she is being led to the gallows, Quasimodo swings down by the bell rope of Notre Dame and carries her off to the cathedral under the law of sanctuary, temporarily protecting her from arrest. Frollo later informs Gringoire that the Court of Parlement has voted to remove Esmeralda's right to sanctuary so she can no longer seek shelter in the church and will be taken from the church and killed. Clopin, the king of the Truands (criminals of Paris), hears the news from Gringoire and rallies the Truands to charge the cathedral and rescue Esmeralda. When Quasimodo sees the Truands, he assumes they are there to hurt Esmeralda, so he drives them off. Likewise, he thinks the King's men want to rescue her, and tries to help them find her. She is rescued by Frollo and her phony husband Gringoire. But after yet another failed attempt to win her love, Frollo betrays Esmeralda by handing her to the troops and watches while she is being hanged. When Frollo laughs during Esmeralda's hanging, Quasimodo pushes him from the heights of Notre Dame to his death. Quasimodo later goes to Montfaucon, a huge graveyard in Paris where the bodies of the condemned are dumped, where he stays with Esmeralda's dead body and dies of starvation. About eighteen months later, the tomb is opened, and the skeletons are found. As someone tries to separate them, they crumble to dust.

30 review for Notre-Dame de Paris (Annotated): The hunchback of Notre-Dame (Learn French by reading Book 27)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    I recently read Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris for the first time, and was delighted and moved by the experience. Although it lacks the depth and humanity of Les Miserables, it possesses a grandeur of architectonic structure and an Olympian compassion all its own. Best of all, it gives us one of literature's most loving and detailed depictions of a city, rivaled only by Joyce's Dublin in Ulysses. It is a shame that this book is so seldom referred to in English by its given name, for it is abou I recently read Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris for the first time, and was delighted and moved by the experience. Although it lacks the depth and humanity of Les Miserables, it possesses a grandeur of architectonic structure and an Olympian compassion all its own. Best of all, it gives us one of literature's most loving and detailed depictions of a city, rivaled only by Joyce's Dublin in Ulysses. It is a shame that this book is so seldom referred to in English by its given name, for it is about more than the history of one hunchback, however moving that history may be. First of all, it is about the great cathedral that dominates and defines the city, the setting for much of the novel's action and most of its crucial events. It is also about the “genius loci” of Paris, the maternal spirit that offers sanctuary and support to its most unfortunate children, many of them literally orphans (Gringoire, Quasimodo, Esmeralda, the Frollos), be they ugly or beautiful, virtuous or evil, bringing a measure of comfort to their difficult and and often tragic lives. Hugo's novel had been on my lengthy “must read” list for years, but what finally moved it to the top was my growing fascination with cities in literature. In childhood, my favorite Arabian Night's tales were the ones that took place in Baghdad, and from early adolescence I loved Sherlock Holmes' London, D'Artagnan's Paris and Nero Wolfe's New York. I also began to appreciate more fantastic cities, such as Stevenson and Machen's London and Leiber's Lankhmar. Soon I fell in love with the hard boiled detective genre and—having been a childhood fan of Arthurian romances—identified with each of these modern knight-errants on a quest. I also realized that the individuality of each city—and the private detective's familiarity with it and his relation to it--was an essential part of the genre's charm. Even the most realistic of private eye cities—Robert B. Parker's Boston, for example—were filled with as many marvels as any Arthurian Romance: instead of a sorceress, one might meet a sexy widow; instead of a liveried dwarf, a mysterious butler; and instead of a disguised knight offering a cryptic challenge one might be offered a tailing job by a Beacon Hill Brahmin with a mask of smiles and hidden motivations. The world of the marvelous had been transported from the isolated castles, woods and meadows of England's “green and pleasant land” to the magnificent townhouses and seedy alleys of an urban environment. How had this occurred, and what were the literary antecedents? I believe that Notre Dame de Paris in 1831 is the point where this all begins. Hugo took a shoot of the delicate gothic already in decline, grafted it to the hearty root of the city (or--more precisely--to a Gothic cathedral in the center of a great city, where it was most likely to flourish), watered it from the oasis of Arabian marvels (dangerous hunchback, guild of thieves, beautiful dancing girl), and cultivated the resulting growth with the historical method of Sir Walter Scott. Thus the urban romance was born. This was just the start, of course. Another decade of industrialism and population growth would make the great European cities seem even more like ancient Baghdad. Dickens would make the thieves guild central to the sinister London of Oliver Twist and Eugene Sue's exploration of urban vices in The Mysteries of Paris (1841) would soon be successfully imitated--commercially if not artistically—by England's Reynolds in The Mysteries of London and America's Lippard in The Quaker City, or The Monks of Monk's Hall. A little later the detective arrived in the gothic city (Poe's DuPont, Gaboriau's Lecoq, Conan Doyle's Holmes) and soon the marvelous and fantastic were re-introduced (Stevenson's New Arabian Nights, Machen's The Three Imposters) as well, fully preparing the urban landscape for the writers of the 20th century to construct their cities of romance in the worlds of detection and fantasy. Hugo tells us that the bones of Quasimodo and Esmeralda have long ago turned to dust, but the marvelous city of crimes and dreams continues to live on.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Rudder

    I have officially been wooed by nineteenth century French literature. First Dumas and now this. I just finished reading Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and it was fantastic. The characters, the themes, the literary structures… Ahhh… *swoons* Before I proclaim my love affair with Victor Hugo, I have to mention some negatives. First off: very, very difficult book to get into. I struggled through at least the first hundred pages, and I’m not that hard to please. Secondly, up until this po I have officially been wooed by nineteenth century French literature. First Dumas and now this. I just finished reading Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and it was fantastic. The characters, the themes, the literary structures… Ahhh… *swoons* Before I proclaim my love affair with Victor Hugo, I have to mention some negatives. First off: very, very difficult book to get into. I struggled through at least the first hundred pages, and I’m not that hard to please. Secondly, up until this point, I had always thought that abridged novels were ridiculous. How could the editors take parts out and still have the story make sense? Upon reading unabridged Hugo, I understand. The man had complete chapters devoted to discussing the history of Paris or the history of the cathedral, and while I admit that it was a clever way to show off his knowledge and spread his political ideals, it was not what I bargained for. The novel would have been more accurately titled “The Archdeacon of Notre Dame.” (Frollo was not a judge as in the Disney movie. They just tried to secularize him to an equivalent position.) I argue that Frollo was the protagonist. The story spent most of its time with him: his internal struggle, his plotting. And his character was fantastic! He was underhanded, but I pitied him. He was pathetic, but I feared him. He did evil, but I loved him. Frollo was not simply a powerful villain; he was a dynamic, complex character that, at times, the reader could really sympathize with. The other characters in the novel were equally impressive. Esmeralda’s sweet, strong innocence (she was only sixteen) and foolish devotion to Phoebus is heart wrenching. Quasimodo’s strength of body and heart is awe-inspiring. Phoebus’ selfish arrogance is antagonizing. The minor characters, from the old heckling woman, to the foolish young Frollo (the Archdeacon’s brother), to the rambling philosopher, create a motley portrait of a fascinating world. Hugo’s occasional comments on society cannot go unnoted. I especially enjoyed one episode where Quasimodo was being questioned in court. In the novel, unlike in the Disney movie, Quasimodo is deaf, so, as he is being questioned, he tries to anticipate the judge’s questions and answer them accordingly. The irony is that the judge was doing the same thing. Hugo created a deaf judge. Beautiful. Anyway, a funny scene ensued, and Hugo made his point. The best part of the story (maybe, there were just so many good ones) was likely Hugo’s portrayal of love. Love was everywhere: the inexplicable love Frollo had for his useless brother, the love that caused Frollo to accept Quasimodo, the love that broke a mother’s heart at the loss of her daughter, the faithful love that sent Quasimodo to Frollo with his tail between his legs… But the most stunning and provocative of all was the comparison of the three men who “loved” Esmeralda: one man, “loving” her so much that he wanted to possess her; one man, “loving” her for the moment, until another girl came along; and one man “loving” her so much that she went before everything: before his desire to be with her, before his desire to have her, before his own desire to live. *swoons again* Awesome book… When I started reading it, everyone felt the need to warn me that it didn’t end like the Disney movie. I was afraid. I was scared that after stringing me along, Hugo was going to kill it at the end. Don’t worry: he doesn’t. The end is moving and beautiful and fitting and so what if it’s not Disney: it’s great. And, to further please the happy reader, there were a million good quotes. Here you go: “Oh, love!... That is to be two, and yet one. A man and a woman joined, as into an ange; that is heaven!” (Esmeralda). “Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of the ages.” “He found that man needs affection, that life without a warming love is but a dry wheel, creaking and grating as it turns.” “Alas! The small thing shall bring down the great things; a tooth triumphs over a whole carcass. The rat of the Nile destroys the crocodile, the swordfish kills the whale; the book will kill the edifice” (Frollo). “It is to this setting sun that we look for a new dawn.” “Spira, spera.” (“Breathe, hope.”) “For love is like a tree; it grows of itself; it send its roots deep into our being, and often continues to grow green over a heart in ruins.” “What man orders… Circumstances disorder” (Frollo). “Everyone knows that great wealth is not acquired by letters, and that the most accomplished writers have not always a warm hearth in wintertime. The lawyers take all the wheat for themselves and leave nothing by chaff for the other learned professions” (Gringoire, the philosopher). “A lighted candle never attracts one gnat only.” “That’s life… It’s often our best friends who make us fall” (Gringoire). “The human voice is music to the human ear.” Just a wonderful sample of the jewels contained in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The novel was difficult, but well worth the effort. I’m just sitting here in awe of it. I can’t write any more.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    Okay, I'm glad I read this book, if only to find out just how badly Disney ruined the story for the sake of their embarassing excuse for a film. (the horrendous straight-to-video sequel, which I fortunately only saw previews for, will not be spoken of at all.) Victor Hugo has a gift for the most ungodly depressing stories, but he writes very well when he's not rambling pointlessly to stretch out his page count. But I can't bring myself to give this four stars, and for one simple reason: with the Okay, I'm glad I read this book, if only to find out just how badly Disney ruined the story for the sake of their embarassing excuse for a film. (the horrendous straight-to-video sequel, which I fortunately only saw previews for, will not be spoken of at all.) Victor Hugo has a gift for the most ungodly depressing stories, but he writes very well when he's not rambling pointlessly to stretch out his page count. But I can't bring myself to give this four stars, and for one simple reason: with the exception of Quasimodo and Esmeralda, every single character in this book is an insufferable dickhead. Frollo, obviously, deserves to be fed to sharks simply for the mind-boggling levels of creepiness he manages to achieve over the course of the story. Phoebus is even more of a fratboy asshole that I'd previously thought, and the way he decides to seduce Esmeralda despite the fact that she's the Gypsy equivalent of a vestal virgin made me want to teleport into the story so I could kick him in the nuts. Frollo's younger brother Jehan is a relatively minor character, but he gets mentioned because in every single scene he appears in, he's constantly yammering away and trying to be clever and witty, the result being that he makes Jar Jar Binks seem terribly endearing in comparison. And Gringoire. I had such hope for him. He starts out promising, but then once Esmeralda gets arrested all he can worry about is the stupid goat, because I guess he thinks she's cuter than his fucking wife who saved his fucking life. When he joins Frollo to get Esmeralda out of the catherdral, he leaves the sixteen-year-old girl with Pastor Pedo McCreepy, and chooses to save the goat. The fucking goat. One final word of advice: skip the chapter entitled "A Bird's Eye View of Paris." It's thirty pages of pointless babbling about what Paris looks like from Notre Dame, and it is impossible to read all the way through without wanting to stab yourself in the eyes with the first sharp object you can reach. I know what you're saying - "Thirty pages? Pfft, that's nothing, I can get through that, I read Ulysses." First of all: you did not. Second: no, you cannot get through these thirty pages. "Mind-numbing" does not do it justice. It is pointless. Don't say I didn't warn you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    While reading this book I started to notice how little the Hunchback is in it. A Goodreads friend mentioned that this is why the title for it in France is actually "Our Lady of Paris". For some reason, English translations chose the the Hunchback for the title. If other books, movies, or TV shows named themselves based on a character that was involved as much as Quasimodo was in this story, here is what they would be called: Star Wars = Chewbacca Harry Potter = Neville Longbottom The Big Bang Theory While reading this book I started to notice how little the Hunchback is in it. A Goodreads friend mentioned that this is why the title for it in France is actually "Our Lady of Paris". For some reason, English translations chose the the Hunchback for the title. If other books, movies, or TV shows named themselves based on a character that was involved as much as Quasimodo was in this story, here is what they would be called: Star Wars = Chewbacca Harry Potter = Neville Longbottom The Big Bang Theory = Howard Walowitz The Shining = Danny Torrance Frozen = Olaf Lost = Smoke Monster All those characters are important to the stories, but they are hardly the main focus. While this is the case with this book, it is not necessarily a bad thing, just a thing to be aware of going in; you really don't get very much Quasimodo. After reading and loving Les Miserables, I had high hopes for this book. But, it was just okay. I am glad I read it and I did enjoy it a lot in a few parts, but most of it was a slog. Hugo spends the first 350 pages or so setting up the story, describing Paris at the time of the story, etc. I think many who try this would have a hard time staying interested. Also, and I hate to say this because I always want my books to be unabridged, but, you could probably abridge this to 150-200 pages and still get everything. Classics buffs, Hugo fans, hardcore historical fiction fans - step right up! Casual reader thinking about checking out some Hugo, step on over to Les Mis!

  5. 5 out of 5

    İntellecta

    Victor Hugo ties in the destinies of a handful people in Paris in the late fifteenth century so cleverly and atmospheric together in a tragedy, that it belongs to the most known dramas’ in European literature. The significance of this work is based on the psychological archetypes that Hugo portrays as tragic characters. The author characterized the underlying society with particular destinies and psychographics. Church, nobility, poets and criminality of the contemporary Paris, which are here re Victor Hugo ties in the destinies of a handful people in Paris in the late fifteenth century so cleverly and atmospheric together in a tragedy, that it belongs to the most known dramas’ in European literature. The significance of this work is based on the psychological archetypes that Hugo portrays as tragic characters. The author characterized the underlying society with particular destinies and psychographics. Church, nobility, poets and criminality of the contemporary Paris, which are here represented by individual fates, are leading to genre picture of this time. I personally think that Hugo's excellent narrative style and ability to act are complex and intelligent.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    922. Notre-Dame de Paris = Our Lady of Paris = The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a French Romantic/Gothic novel by Victor Hugo, published in 1831. The story is set in Paris in 1482 during the reign of Louis XI. The gypsy Esmeralda (born as Agnes) captures the hearts of many men, including those of Captain Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire, but especially Quasimodo and his guardian Archdeacon Claude Frollo. Frollo is torn between his obsessive lust for Esmeralda an 922. Notre-Dame de Paris = Our Lady of Paris = The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a French Romantic/Gothic novel by Victor Hugo, published in 1831. The story is set in Paris in 1482 during the reign of Louis XI. The gypsy Esmeralda (born as Agnes) captures the hearts of many men, including those of Captain Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire, but especially Quasimodo and his guardian Archdeacon Claude Frollo. Frollo is torn between his obsessive lust for Esmeralda and the rules of Notre Dame Cathedral. He orders Quasimodo to kidnap her, but Quasimodo is captured by Phoebus and his guards, who save Esmeralda. Gringoire, who attempted to help Esmeralda but was knocked out by Quasimodo, is about to be hanged by beggars when Esmeralda saves him by agreeing to marry him for four years. The following day, Quasimodo is sentenced to be flogged and turned on the pillory for one hour, followed by another hour's public exposure. He calls for water. Esmeralda, seeing his thirst, approaches the public stocks and offers him a drink of water. It saves him, and she captures his heart. Later, Esmeralda is arrested and charged with the attempted murder of Phoebus, whom Frollo actually attempted to kill in jealousy after seeing him trying to seduce Esmeralda. She is sentenced to death by hanging. As she is being led to the gallows, Quasimodo swings down by the bell rope of Notre-Dame and carries her off to the cathedral under the law of sanctuary, temporarily protecting her from arrest. Frollo later informs Gringoire that the Court of Parlement has voted to remove Esmeralda's right to the sanctuary so she can no longer seek shelter in the Cathedral and will be taken away to be killed. Clopin, the leader of the Gypsies, hears the news from Gringoire and rallies the citizens of Paris to charge the cathedral and rescue Esmeralda. When Quasimodo sees the Gypsies, he assumes they are there to hurt Esmeralda, so he drives them off. Likewise, he thinks the King's men want to rescue her, and tries to help them find her. She is rescued by Frollo and Gringoire. But after yet another failed attempt to win her love, Frollo betrays Esmeralda by handing her to the troops and watches while she is being hanged. When Frollo laughs during Esmeralda's hanging, Quasimodo pushes him from the height of Notre Dame to his death. Quasimodo goes to the cemetery, hugs Esmeralda's body, and dies of starvation with her. Years later they are discovered and, while trying to separate them, Quasimodo's bones turn to dust. گوژپشت نوتردام - ویکتور هوگو ؛ ادبیات فرانسه؛ انتشاراتیها: (توسن، سعیدی، عین اللهی، آرمان، بشارت، نهال نویدان، ارغوان، سمور، حقوقی و جاودان خرد)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یکی از روزهای سال 1972 میلادی عنوان: گوژپشت نوتردام؛ اثر: ویکتور هوگو؛ مترجم: احمد سعیدی؛ تهران، سعیدی، 1348، در 242 ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی - سده 19 م مترجم: اسفندیار کاویان؛ تهران،عین الهی، 1362، در 309 ص؛ مترجم: لقا اردلان، تهران، انتشارات توسن؛ 1362، در 108 ص؛ مترجم: جواد محبی؛ تهران، نشر بشارت، 1370، در 547 ص؛ چاپ دوم: مشهد، جاودان خرد، 1385؛ در 526 ص؛ سوم 1386؛ چهارم 1387، پنجم 1388؛ شابک: 9789646030282؛ مترجم: ایاز حدادی؛ تهران، آرمان، 1370، در 368 ص؛ دوزبانه انگلیسی فارسی؛ چاپ بعدی 1380؛ در 390 ص؛ مترجم: فتحیه صالحی؛ تهران، ارغوان، 1371، در 128 ص؛ مترجم: رویا ریاحی؛ تهران، نشر سمور، 1375، شابک: 9646208193؛ مترجم: شکوفه اخوان؛ تهران، نهال نویدان، 1375، در 192 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: 1392؛ در 159 ص؛ شابک: 9789645680464؛ هوگو در مقدمه کتاب مینویسد: چند سال پیش نویسنده این کتاب به هنگام تماشا یا بهتر بگوییم ضمن کاوش در کلیسای نتردام در یکی از زوایای تاریک برجهای آن کلمه ANATKH را که دستی عمیقاً بر یکی از دیوارها کنده بود مشاهده کرد....؛ کسی که این کلمه را بر دیوار برج کلیسای نتردام نقش زده بود چندین سده پیش از جهان رخت بربسته، و نوشته ی او هم بدنبال وی ناپدید گردیده، پایان عمر کلیسا نیز بسیار نزدیک است. کتاب حاضر درباره ی سنگ نوشته مزبور به رشته ی تحریر در آمده‌ است.؛ پایان نقل چکیده داستان: در «پاریس» سده پانزدهم، دختر کولی جوان و زیبایی، به نام: «اسمرالدا»؛ به همراه بز باهوش خود میرقصید، و برنامه اجرا میکرد. «کلود فرولو»، رئیس «شماس»های «نتردام» است، راهبی ست که در نهان عاشق «اسمرالدا» شده‌، او سعی می‌کند با یاری «کازیمودو»، ناقوس زن گوژپشت، و بدشکل «نتردام»، «اسمرالدا» را برباید، ولی با دخالت «کاپیتان فوبوس دوشاتوپر» ناکام میماند، و «کازیمودو» دستگیر میشود. «کازیمودو» را در میدان اعدام، با شلاق مجازات میکنند، و تنها «اسمرالدا»، که قلبی مهربان دارد، به او یاری می‌کند، و جرعه‌ ای آب به او میدهد. نقل از متن: «دخترک بدون اینکه سخنی بر زبان براند به محکوم نزدیک شد، گوژپشت میخواست به هر قیمتی شده خود را از وی کنار کشد. ولی دختر قمقمه‌ ای را که بر کمربند آویخته بود، باز کرد و به آرامی آن را با لب سوزان مرد بینوا آشنا ساخت. در چشم شرربار و خشک گوژپشت، اشکی حلقه زد، و بر چهره نازیبای او فروغلطید. شاید این نخستین قطره اشکی بود که در سراسر زندگی از دیده فرو میریخت.» پایان نقل؛ اسمرالدا عاشق فوبوس شده، ولی فوبوس که جوانی سبکسر و هوسباز است، تنها در پی لحظاتی کوتاه با اوست، و تقریباً توانسته اسمرالدای پاکدامن را مغلوب سازد، که توسط کلود فرولو، مورد اصابت خنجر قرار میگیرد. اما اسمرالدا است که به جرم قتل، به اعدام محکوم میشود. کلود فرولو در زندان نیز به اسمرالدا ابراز عشق می‌کند، ولی اسمرالدا او را از خود میراند، و همچنان به یاد فوبوس، رنجها را هیچ میانگارد. در روز اعدام، اسمرالدا را برای توبه به در «نتردام» میبرند، او در آنجا اتفاقی، چشمش به فوبوس، که از ضربت چاقو جان به در برده، میافتد؛ ولی فوبوس از او روی برمیگرداند. اسمرالدا: «تا این دم هر رنج و سختی را تحمل کرده بود. ولی این ضربت آخرین بسیار شکننده بود».؛ در این لحظه کازیمودو، گوژپشت یکچشم و کر، اما بسیار نیرومند، متهورانه دخترک را از دست نگهبانان نجات میدهد، و او را با خود به برجهای «نتردام» میبرد، و دخترک در آنجا پناهنده می‌شود، و بست مینشیند.؛ و .... ادامه ماجرا. ا. شربیانی

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    Written by Victor Hugo, who also brought us the wonderful classic Les Misérables (which in some ways is very similar to this story; I noticed a sort of parallel between Inspector Javert and Claude Frollo), this large classic features deep characters, dark but important thematic elements and morality which isn't always so black-and-white. Until recently my only experience with The Hunchback of Notre Dame had been watching the 1990's Disney animated film on VHS as a kid, which was waaaay back in 2 Written by Victor Hugo, who also brought us the wonderful classic Les Misérables (which in some ways is very similar to this story; I noticed a sort of parallel between Inspector Javert and Claude Frollo), this large classic features deep characters, dark but important thematic elements and morality which isn't always so black-and-white. Until recently my only experience with The Hunchback of Notre Dame had been watching the 1990's Disney animated film on VHS as a kid, which was waaaay back in 2005, and my memory of it isn't so good, except that I remember being disappointed by the ending, in which Esmeralda inevitably doesn't love Quasimodo in spite of him being a kind person (I was eight years old; it hadn't occurred to me back then that life rarely works out that way), and feeling very sorry for poor Frollo in his eventual demise (god knows why; he was scary back then! Kids in my elementary school classes had nightmares about him!). I decided I should go back and re-experience the story, but this time I wanted to try reading the original book over the Disney film. The novel is considerably deeper; although the Disney film did try, and in all fairness did manage to capture some of the complex emotions and psychology behind the characters, as a film intended for children it left out many of the book's deeper moments and is radically different from the book in many respects. Quasimodo actually isn't a huge presence in the novel in spite of him being the titular character, which was a bit odd, but the book seems to be more about sharing a message than it is about the characters themselves. I can't say that I loved The Hunchback of Notre Dame as much as Les Misérables, unfortunately. While it's still a great novel and undeniably well-written, The Hunchback of Notre Dame seems in its own weird way to be a commentary on Victor Hugo's perception of France's architecture and a historical/political glance back in time. The pacing and structure of the novel is also difficult to get used to. If you like linear plots with only a couple of characters, I wouldn't recommend it, but if you like stories that follow their own course at their own time, this one is a good choice. I do however recommend reading Les Misérables first if you're new to the work of Victor Hugo. It's arguably his best novel but also gives readers a chance to get immersed in his writing style before moving onto his other books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    Victor Hugo's Les Misérables is one of my all-time favourite novels and so it's odd that I've never read any of his other books. In order to fill in the gaps in my reading, I've decided to read at least one classic a month this year and am so glad I started with The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Wow, wow... WOW! What a freaking good story! It's not quite as good as Les Mis but it's still incredible. At times Hugo can be long-winded and I could have thrown the Kindle across the room when he rambled on Victor Hugo's Les Misérables is one of my all-time favourite novels and so it's odd that I've never read any of his other books. In order to fill in the gaps in my reading, I've decided to read at least one classic a month this year and am so glad I started with The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Wow, wow... WOW! What a freaking good story! It's not quite as good as Les Mis but it's still incredible. At times Hugo can be long-winded and I could have thrown the Kindle across the room when he rambled on for 50 or so pages describing Notre Dame and the view from there. However, as I didn't fancy breaking the Kindle and having to buy a new one, I reined myself in and plowed through it. (Maybe physical books ARE better than e-books in this case?!). After that section, thankfully near the beginning, the book was very enjoyable and gripping. But damn! It will break your heart! Still, Hugo's wit is prevalent throughout and I found myself chuckling several times, even though the story is so tragic. I'm so glad I finally got around to reading this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    ok... i'll be honest. i hated the first 150 pages and had i not been reading it for book club i would have abandoned it. about 300 pages in i started to think it was okay. around 400... i really liked it. at page 450 i couldn't put it down. i stayed up till 2am last night finishing it. so... is it worth the painful first half to get to the second half? now that i've done it... i would say so. victor hugo could have used a good editor. pages and pages of diatribes and descriptions that made me fe ok... i'll be honest. i hated the first 150 pages and had i not been reading it for book club i would have abandoned it. about 300 pages in i started to think it was okay. around 400... i really liked it. at page 450 i couldn't put it down. i stayed up till 2am last night finishing it. so... is it worth the painful first half to get to the second half? now that i've done it... i would say so. victor hugo could have used a good editor. pages and pages of diatribes and descriptions that made me feel like pulling my hair out - but the story is chilling and wonderful. i understood after reading it why there are so many abridged versions. :) of course its a piece out of history... melodramatic and predictable... but one expects that. all in all... i felt satisfied going to bed last night having read such a great book. still... next time i read Hugo... i will be prepared for a big front end investment.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    If these stones could speak … Victor Hugo wrote this book in 1829, largely to make his contemporaries more aware of the value of the Gothic architecture, which was neglected and often destroyed, only to be replaced by new buildings or defaced by replacing parts of buildings in a newer style (such as the beautiful glass window of Nôtre Dame). The actual French title translates to „Our Lady in Paris“ as it is not really about Quasimodo but about the cathedral of Nôtre Dame. Now, in order to underst If these stones could speak … Victor Hugo wrote this book in 1829, largely to make his contemporaries more aware of the value of the Gothic architecture, which was neglected and often destroyed, only to be replaced by new buildings or defaced by replacing parts of buildings in a newer style (such as the beautiful glass window of Nôtre Dame). The actual French title translates to „Our Lady in Paris“ as it is not really about Quasimodo but about the cathedral of Nôtre Dame. Now, in order to understand the core story, I have to go somewhat into detail. For those, who don’t want to know, I recommend skipping this paragraph, fair warning. We find ourselves in Paris in 1482. Archdeacon Frollo is torn between his oaths and his obsessive lust for the gypsy Esmeralda. He therefore instructs Quasimodo to kidnap Esmeralda. Quasimodo, a half-blind and meanwhile also deaf hunchback, loving Frollo ever since he took Quasimodo in when his mother abandoned him as a child, does as he’s told. However, Quasimodo is stopped by Captain Phoebus and his guards and is captured by them. Subsequently, he is sentenced to be flogged and turned on the pillory for an hour, followed by another hour’s public exposure. During this ordeal, he almost dies of thirst but Esmeralda, of all people, saves him by giving him water - which makes him fall in love with her. Frollo, meanwhile, driven half mad by jealousy, tries to kill Captain Phoebus and, when that fails, frames Esmeralda for the attempted murder since she keeps refusing him. Quasimodo saves her from the gallows by swinging down from Nôtre Dame and taking her into the cathedral, claiming sanctuary for her. The leader of the gypsies then tries to rally the citizens of Paris to free Esmeralda before the Parliament can vote to deny her the right to sanctuary. However, Quasimodo mistakes their motives and repels them while thinking that the King’s men are there to help. Eventually, Esmeralda and Quasimodo are betrayed by Frollo, Esmeralda being handed over to the guards and hanged. Frollo, truly mad now, laughs while watching from a balcony high up on Nôtre Dame, driving Quasimodo to push him off to his death. Then, Quasimodo vanishes (it is implied that he dies also, holding Esmeralda's body in a comforting embrace). This is not the entire story, not by far. But it is the core and what is usually addressed in movie adaptations and perhaps more than future readers want to know in advance (which is why I wrote that warning above). It has to be stated that Quasimodo does not feature too often in this story. The reason being that the story is more about the structure of the cathedral, its timelessness and what it witnessed ever since it was built. The author was trying to make the point that mere men don’t have the right to destroy or - through inaction - allow to come to harm such a magnificent and important piece of architecture. Nevertheless, it is a love story and one of the most tragic ones at that. It features all the elements relevant at the time: the aloof upper society including the uncaring ruling parties, the lower levels of society such as beggars and gypsies, artists, conflicted and not-to-be-trusted members of the clergy, outcasts. In short: the puppets and puppet masters. The book impresses with the author’s impeccable writing style, rich with lively descriptions that place one firmly amongst the characters. The author also effortlessly throws in historical information as decoration to describe the timelessness of structures and of works of art. Albeit this being a tragic romance, it is also definitely a satire full of sarcasm shown in people using gatherings in the church to gossip and make fun of others, or shown in how the people here react to current events and inventions: „Printing will kill bookselling.“ since it supposedly is a „wretched“ German invention. *lol* Not to mention the social criticism that continuously exposes ludicrous customs, vanity, hypocrisy and other character weaknesses. Like Dumas, Hugo allows a sharp look at the times, at the different levels of society and politics but also at peoples’ characters and occupations. Unlike Dumas, however, Hugo doesn’t quite manage to successfully walk the knife’s edge between bringing the surroundings and times alive through detailed descriptions, firmly placing the story through adding relevant historical information and clubbing the reader to death with too much information that has no immediate merit whatsoever. Nevertheless, it is an important piece and I very much enjoyed Bill Homewood's narration once again.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    This isn't a review of the book itself, but rather a sampler of its English translations. Since the ratio of English readers of Hugo to English translators of Hugo is perilously close to 1:1, I thought a quick taste test was in order, so I've whipped up this plateau d'amuse-gueules so that you can find your favorite. I've compiled as many versions of the opening paragraph(s) as I could find online; I had no luck unearthing Hazlitt [1833], but most of the others are here. I've ended with Hugo's o This isn't a review of the book itself, but rather a sampler of its English translations. Since the ratio of English readers of Hugo to English translators of Hugo is perilously close to 1:1, I thought a quick taste test was in order, so I've whipped up this plateau d'amuse-gueules so that you can find your favorite. I've compiled as many versions of the opening paragraph(s) as I could find online; I had no luck unearthing Hazlitt [1833], but most of the others are here. I've ended with Hugo's original French, the essence of which will be surprisingly intelligible after you've parsed it against a couple of the less impressionistic translations. (Just for fun, I've added my own translation at the end, so you can see whether my opinion is worth a crap.) Please click 'Like' if you found this useful - it will make it easier for other people to find it! If you want an opinion without having to slog through all these, I think the only ones close to great literature in English are Beckwith [1895] and maybe Sturrock [1978], who seems to follow Beckwith rather closely. Beckwith is quite good, with Sturrock a notch below, and all the rest defacing Hugo as much as his detested 'masons' were then defacing the medieval facade of Paris. :: Shoberl [1833] :: On this day 348 years, six months, and nineteen days since the good people of Paris were awakened by a grand peal from all the bells in the three districts of the City, the University, and the Ville. The 6th of January, 1482, was, nevertheless, a day of which history has not preserved any record. There was nothing worthy of note in the event which so early set in motion the bells and the citizens of Paris. It was neither an assault of the Picards or the Burgundians, nor a procession with the shrine of some saint, nor a mutiny of the students, nor an entry of our "most redoubted lord, Monsieur the king," nor even an execution of rogues of either sex, before the Palace of Justice of Paris. Neither was it an arrival of some bedizened and befeathered embassy, a sight of frequent occurrence in the fifteenth century. It was but two days since the last cavalcade of this kind, that of the Flemish ambassadors commissioned to conclude a marriage between the Dauphin and Margaret of Flanders, had made its entry into Paris, to the great annoyance of the Cardinal of Bourbon, who, in order to please the king, had been obliged to receive this vulgar squad of Flemish burgomasters with good grace, and to entertain them at his hotel de Bourbon with a goodly morality, mummery, and farce, while a deluge of rain drenched the magnificent tapestry at his door. :: Anonymous [19th century, adopted by Everyman's Library] :: On the 6th of January, 1482, the Parisians were awakened by the noise of all the bells within the triple circuit of the City, the University, and the Town ringing in full peal. Yet this is not a day of which history has preserved any remembrance. There was nothing remarkable in the event which thus put in agitation so early in the morning the bells and the good people of Paris. It was neither an assault of Picards or of Burgundians; nor a shrine carried in procession; nor a revolt of scholars in la vigne de Laas; nor an entry of notre dit tres-redoute seigneur Monsieur le Roi - that is, in plain English, of their most dread lord the King ["In good plain English"!? - Matvei]; nor yet a good hanging up of thieves, male and female, at the Justice de Paris (justice and gibbet having been synonymous in the good old feudal times)[That remark is also actually in the translation - Matvei]. Neither was it the sudden arrival, so frequent in the 15th century, of some ambassador and his train, all covered with lace and plumes. Scarcely two days had elapsed since the last cavalcade of this sort, that of the Flemish envoys commissioned to conclude the marriage treaty between the Dauphin and Margaret of Flanders, had made its entry into Paris, to the great annoyance of Monsieur le Cardinal de Bourbon, who to please the king had been obliged to give a gracious reception to that rude train of Flemish burgomasters, and entertain them, at his Hotel de Bourbon, with one of the rude dramatic exhibitions of the time, while a beating rain drenched the magnificent tapestry at his door. :: Alger [1882] :: 348 years, six months, and nineteen days ago today, the Parisians were waked by the sound of loud peals from all the bells within the triple precincts of the City, the University, and the Town. And yet the 6th of January, 1842, is not a day of which history takes much note. There was nothing extraordinary about the event which thus set all the bells and the citizens of Paris agog from early dawn. It was neither an attack from the Picards or the Burgundians, nor some shrine carried in procession, nor was it a student revolt in the Ville de Laas, nor an entry of "our greatly to be dreaded lord the king", nor even the wholesale slaughter of a band of thieves before the Palace of Justice. Neither was it the arrival, so frequent during the 15th century, of some plumed and laced embassy. It was scarcely two days since the last cavalcade of this sort, that of the Flemish ambassadors empowered to arrange a marriage between the Dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders, had entered Paris, to the great annoyance of Cardinal Bourbon, who, to please the king, was forced to smile upon all this rustic rout of Flemish burgomasters, and to entertain them at his own mansion with "a very fine morality and farce", while a driving rainstorm drenched the splendid tapestries at his door. :: Hapgood [1888] :: Three hundred and forty-eight years, six months, and nineteen days ago today, the Parisians awoke to the sound of all the bells in the triple circuit of the city, the university, and the town ringing a full peal. The sixth of January, 1482, is not, however, a day of which history has preserved the memory. There was nothing notable in the event which thus set the bells and the bourgeois of Paris in a ferment from early morning. It was neither an assault by the Picards nor the Burgundians, nor a hunt led along in procession, nor a revolt of scholars in the town of Laas, nor an entry of "our much dread lord, monsieur the king," nor even a pretty hanging of male and female thieves by the courts of Paris. Neither was it the arrival, so frequent in the fifteenth century, of some plumed and bedizened embassy. It was barely two days since the last cavalcade of that nature, that of the Flemish ambassadors charged with concluding the marriage between the dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders, had made its entry into Paris, to the great annoyance of M. le Cardinal de Bourbon, who, for the sake of pleasing the king, had been obliged to assume an amiable mien towards this whole rustic rabble of Flemish burgomasters, and to regale them at his Hôtel de Bourbon, with a very "pretty morality, allegorical satire, and farce," while a driving rain drenched the magnificent tapestries at his door. :: Beckwith [1895] :: Exactly 348 years, six months, and nineteen days have passed away since the Parisians were awakened by the noise of all the bells within the triple walls of the city, the University, and the town, ringing a full peal. Yet the 6th of January, 1482, was not a day of which history has preserved any record. There was nothing remarkable in the event which thus put in agitation so early in the morning the bells and the good people of Paris. It was neither an assault of the Picards or of the Burgundians, nor a shrine carried in procession, nor a revolt of scholars in the vigne de Laas, nor an entry of their most dread lord the king, nor a grand hanging up of thieves, male and female, at the Justice de Paris. Neither was it the sudden arrival, so frequent in the fifteenth century, of some ambassador and his train, all covered with lace and plumes. Scarcely two days had elapsed since the last cavalcade of this sort -- that of the Flemish envoys commissioned to conclude the marriage treaty between the Dauphin and Margaret of Flanders -- had made its entry into Paris, to the great annoyance of Monsieur le Cardinal de Bourbon, who, to please the king, had been obliged to give a gracious reception to that rude train of Flemish burgomasters, and entertain them, at his Hotel de Bourbon, with one of the rude dramatic exhibitions of the time, while a beating rain drenched the magnificent tapestry at his door. :: Bair [1956] :: On January 6, 1482, the people of Paris were awakened by the tumultuous clanging of all the bells in the city. Yet history has kept no memory of this date, for there was nothing notable about the event which set in motion the bells and citizens of Paris that morning. It was not an attack by the Picards or the Burgundians, a procession carrying the relics of some saint, an entry of "Our Most Dread Lord, Monsieur the King," nor even a good hanging of thieves. Nor was it the arrival of some foreign ambassador and his train, all decked out in lace and feathers, a common sight in the 15th century. It had been scarcely two days since the latest cavalcade of this kind had paraded through the streets: the delegation of Flemish ambassadors sent to conclude the marriage between the Dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders. To his great annoyance, Cardinal de Bourbon, in order to please the king, had been obliged to give a gracious reception to that uncouth band of Flemish burgomasters and entertain them in his mansion. [Yes, Bair omitted the driving rain drenching the tapestries! - Matvei] :: Unknown (though after you read this, it will be clear that the translator was Alan Smithee) [Wordsworth Classics edition - perhaps Cobb 1964?] :: One morning, 348 years, six months, and nineteen days ago, the Parisians were awakened by a grand peal from all the bells, within the triple enclosure of the City, the University, and the Town. Yet the 6th of January, 1482, was not a day of which history has preserved any record. There was nothing remarkable in the event that so early in the morning set in commotion the bells and the bourgeois of Paris. It was neither a sudden attack made by Picards or by Burgundians, nor a shrine carried in procession, nor a student fight in the city of Laas, nor the entry of 'our most dread lord the King', nor even a goodly stringing up of thieves, male and female, on the Place de la Justice. Nor it was it a sudden arrival, so common in the 15th century, of some ambassador and his train, all belaced and beplumed. Only about two days ago, indeed, the last cavalcade of this kind, Flemish envoys commissioned to conclude the marriage treaty between the young dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders, had made entry into Paris, to the great annoyance of Cardinal Bourbon. To please the king, his Eminence had undertaken to give gracious reception to the rough crowd of Flemish burgomasters, and to entertain them at his Hotel de Bourbon with a 'very fine morality, burletta, and farce,' whilst a beating rain was all the time drenching his magnificent tapestries at his portals. :: Sturrock [1978] :: 348 years, six months, and nineteen days ago today, the people of Paris awoke to hear all the churchbells in the triple enclosure of the City, the University, and the Town in full voice. Not that 6 January 1482 is a day of which history has kept any record. There was nothing noteworthy about the event that had set the burgesses and bells of Paris in motion from early morning. It was not an assault by Picards or Burgundians, it was not a reliquary being carried in procession, it was not a student revolt in the vineyard of Laas, it was not an entry by 'our most redoubtable Lord Monsieur the King', it was not even a fine hanging of male and female thieves on the gallows of Paris. Nor was it the arrival, so frequent in the 15th century, of an embassy, in all its plumes and finery. It was barely two days since the last cavalcade of this kind, that of the Flemish ambassadors charged with concluding the marriage between the dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders, had made its entry into Paris, much to the annoyance of Monsieur the Cardinal of Bourbon, who, to please the king, had had to put on a smile for this uncouth mob of Flemish burgomasters and entertain them, in his Hotel de Bourbon, with a 'very fine morality, satire, and farce', as driving rain drenched the magnificent tapestries in his doorway. :: Krailsheimer [1993] :: Just three hundred and forty-eight years, six months, and nineteen days ago today Parisians woke to the sound of all the bells pealing out within the triple precinct of City, University, and Town. The sixth of January 1482 is not, however, a day commemorated by history. There was nothing very special about the event which thus launched the bells and the people of Paris into movement from early in the morning. It was not an attack by Picards or Burgundians, not a procession of relics, not a student revolt in the Laas vineyard, not ‘our aforesaid most dread sovereign Lord the King’ making his entry, not even the fine spectacle of men and women being hanged for robbery at the Palais de Justice in Paris. Nor was it the arrival of some embassy, a frequent occurrence in the fifteenth century, all bedizened and plumed. It was hardly two days since the last cavalcade of that kind, the Flemish embassy sent to conclude the marriage of the Dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders, had entered Paris, much to the annoyance of the Cardinal de Bourbon, who, to please the King, had had to put on a welcoming smile for this rustic bunch of Flemish burgomasters and treat them, in his Hotel de Bourbon, to ‘a very fine morality, satire, and farce’, while torrential rain soaked the magnificent tapestries hung at his door. :: Liu [2002] :: Three hundred and forty-eight years, six months, and nineteen days ago, the good people of Paris awoke to the sound of all the bells pealing in the three districts of the Cité, the Université, and the Ville. The sixth of January, 1482, was, however, a day that history does not remember. There was nothing worthy of note in the event that set in motion earlv in the morning both the bells and the citizens of Paris. It was neither an assault of the Picards nor one of the Burgundians, nor a procession bearing the shrine of some saint, nor a student revolt in the vineyard of Laas, nor an entry of “our most feared Lord, Monsieur the King,” nor even a lovely hanging of thieves of either sex before the Palace of justice of Paris. It was also not the arrival of some bedecked and befeathered ambassador, which was a frequent sight in the fifteenth century. It was barely two days since the last Cavalcade of this kind had been seen, as the Flemish ambassadors commissioned to conclude a marriage between the Dauphin and Margaret of Flanders had entered Paris, to the great annoyance of the Cardinal de Bourbon, who, in order to please the King, had been obliged to receive the entire rustic crew of Flemish burgomasters with a gracious smile, and to entertain them at his Hotel de Bourbon with “very elaborate morality plays, mummery, and farce,” while pouring rain drenched the magnificent tapestry at his door. :: Unknown [CreateSpace edition, 2013] :: 348 years, six months, and nineteen days ago today, the Parisians awoke to the sound of all the bells in the triple circuit of the city, the university, and the town ringing a full peal. The 6th of January, 1842, is not, however, a day of which history has preserved the memory. There was nothing notable in the event which thus set the bells and the bourgeois of Paris in a ferment from early morning. It was neither an assault by the Picards nor the Burgundians, nor a hunt led along in procession, nor a revolt of scholars in the town of Laas, nor an entry of 'our much dread lord, monsieur the king', nor even a pretty hanging of male and female thieves by the courts of Paris. Neither was it the arrival, so frequent in the 15th century, of some plumed and bedizened embassy. It was barely two days since the last cavalcade of that nature, that of the Flemish ambassadors charged with concluding the marriage between the dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders, had made its entry into Paris, to the great annoyance of M. le Cardinal de Bourbon, who, for the sake of pleasing the king, had been obliged to assume an amiable mien towards this whole rustic rabble of Flemish burgomasters, and to regale them at his Hotel de Bourbon, with a very 'pretty morality, allegorical satire, and farce', while a driving rain drenched the magnificent tapestries at his door. :: and at long last ... :: Il y a aujourd’hui trois cent quarante-huit ans six mois et dix-neuf jours que les parisiens s’éveillèrent au bruit de toutes les cloches sonnant à grande volée dans la triple enceinte de la Cité, de l’Université et de la Ville. Ce n’est cependant pas un jour dont l’histoire ait gardé souvenir que le 6 janvier 1482. Rien de notable dans l’événement qui mettait ainsi en branle, dès le matin, les cloches et les bourgeois de Paris. Ce n’était ni un assaut de picards ou de bourguignons, ni une châsse menée en procession, ni une révolte d’écoliers dans la vigne de Laas, ni une entrée de notre dit très redouté seigneur monsieur le roi, ni même une belle pendaison de larrons et de larronnesses à la Justice de Paris. Ce n’était pas non plus la survenue, si fréquente au quinzième siècle, de quelque ambassade chamarrée et empanachée. Il y avait à peine deux jours que la dernière cavalcade de ce genre, celle des ambassadeurs flamands chargés de conclure le mariage entre le dauphin et Marguerite de Flandre, avait fait son entrée à Paris, au grand ennui de Monsieur le cardinal de Bourbon, qui, pour plaire au roi, avait dû faire bonne mine à toute cette rustique cohue de bourgmestres flamands, et les régaler, en son hôtel de Bourbon, d’une moult belle moralité, sotie et farce, tandis qu’une pluie battante inondait à sa porte ses magnifiques tapisseries. :: Matvei P [2014] :: It was on this day, three hundred and forty eight years, six months, and nineteen days since, that the people of Paris awoke to the din of all the bells ringing out a grand peal from the triple ramparts of the City, the University, and the Town. Yet the 6th of January, 1482, was not otherwise a day that history records. There was nothing remarkable in the event which, all that morning, had set the bells of Paris and her dwellers so astir. It was no invasion from Picardy or Burgundy, no solemn procession of relics to a shrine, no revolt of scholars from the vineyards of Laas, no entrance of our most dread lord the king, no fine hanging of thieves at the Palace of Justice. Nor was it the sudden arrival, so frequent in those days, of some ambassador, richly brocaded and beplumed. It had been two days since the last such parade -- that of the Flemish ambassadors tasked with confirming the marriage between the dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders -- had made its way to Paris, to the great annoyance of the cardinal of Bourbon, who, to please the king, had had to welcome this bumpkin lot of Flemish worthies to his estate and there regale them with mummeries and farces, as all the while a driving rain drenched the magnificent tapestries at his door.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Denisse

    Buddy Read at: Emma's Tea Party Oh my God! My brain is exhausted. I used too many neurons for this. I want to take a nap. I really wanted to love the book. In my defense I did like Frollo’s character. He has a very interesting and intense problem to read going on in his head. Sadly everyone else did not set up a thing on me. Alongside those endless descriptions, I found this story way too long and tedious. The writing is excellent, the passion behind it really inspiring but I’m just not interest Buddy Read at: Emma's Tea Party Oh my God! My brain is exhausted. I used too many neurons for this. I want to take a nap. I really wanted to love the book. In my defense I did like Frollo’s character. He has a very interesting and intense problem to read going on in his head. Sadly everyone else did not set up a thing on me. Alongside those endless descriptions, I found this story way too long and tedious. The writing is excellent, the passion behind it really inspiring but I’m just not interesting in full chapters with just architecture descriptions, they started good but were just too long for my taste. At least I’m not going to die saying I never read a Victor Hugo, so I WON! Saben, yo creía que hablaba español…hasta que leí este libro. D: Ni cuando leo en ingles uso tanto el pinche diccionario XDlol Voy a empezar diciendo que entiendo, de verdad lo hago. Hay edificios tan importantes en nuestro mundo, que por nada del mundo deberían ser demolidos o cambiados siquiera. Desgraciadamente a mi la arquitectura no me va mucho. O sea, las descripciones empezaban bien, de hecho la de Notre-Dame es muy buena, pero eran bastante largas y terminaban siempre cansándome. Esa fue la razón principal por la que no disfrute tanto la lectura. Al inicio se dice que la historia nació de una palabra que estaba escrita en la catedral: 'AN'AIKH, que significa fatalidad. Y ese dato curioso, por así decirlo, me gusto mucho, hizo que mis ganas por empezar el libro se incrementaran un montón, y en ese entonces ya eran bastante grandes. Muy pronto, como al 15% ya estaba llorando. Cuando digo que este libro tiene una introducción larga, me refiero al primer 50% y no es un chiste. En esa primera mitad, esperen muchas descripciones de todos los lugares icónicos habidos en Paris del siglo XV. Lo bueno de ese tramo es que también tenemos las historias detrás de los personajes Frollo y Quasimodo y fueron EXCELENTES. La verdadera trama no inicia si no hasta casi el 60% y es algo que cualquiera que no haya leído este bebe debe tener en cuenta, porque hay mucha gente que odia las introducciones. Y como alguien que las ama les diré esto: Casi me doy por vencida. Sentí como si la historia estuviera formada de muchas subtramas en lugar de tener una general y otras chicas que la acompañaran como es lo más normal de leer. A menos que consideren descripciones arquitectónicas como trama principal, este libro para mi no la tiene. Frollo esta encaprichado con Esmeralda, Esmeralda con Pheobus y Quasi es un ser que nunca llegue a comprender pero termino agradándome. Siento que ya escribí mucho y no he dicho nada. De cariño me pueden decir Victoria Huga XDlol Además de Frollo, ningún otro personaje tiene mucha profundidad, a ninguno lo llegue a entender realmente, otra vez, las descripciones de edificios y lugares son tantas que muchas veces los personajes quedan relegados a segundo lugar. Algo que si me gusto y bastante fue todo el rollo Esmeralda-Pheobus-Quasi. (view spoiler)[Ambos salvan a la gitana en diferentes ocasiones pero es a Pheobus a quien Esmeralda termina sobreadorando solo por su físico. Y a pesar de que estuvo mucho tiempo con Quasi nunca dejo de tenerle miedo o asco, o una mezcla de ambas y eso es muy triste porque Quasi, aunque algo bravo, es bueno mientras que el otro guey es un hdp. (hide spoiler)] Por otro lado, el final es muy bueno, todos los personajes convergen de alguna forma interesante y la trágica conclusión junto con la escritura del autor hace que termines con buen sabor de boca. A mi parecer el ultimo capitulo es simplemente bello. Y me gusta que un libro tenga unas últimas líneas increíbles. Le da mas peso al final en su totalidad a mi parecer. Y obviamente el libro esta excelentemente bien ambientado y escrito. Les recomiendo el libro si ya están acostumbrados a descripciones largas y diálogos extensos. De otra forma no lo van a disfrutar ni un poco. Si tiene muy poca fluidez debido a los capítulos alternados entre “descripción arquitectónica” y “trama”, además a veces se hacían comparaciones larguisimas con los años 1400 y 1800 que es cuando transcurre la obra y cuando se publico realmente. Desconcentran muchísimo. Al final, si es una lectura difícil, porque cualquier cosa que sea tan lenta ES difícil, pero dependiendo en lo que estés interesado es si disfrutaras esa lentitud o no. La mayoría del tiempo, con esta historia, yo no lo hice :( Al final me quedo una reseña muy larga y siento que no dije nada importante. Pero no me arrepiento de haberlo leído, simplemente ya se que tipo de clásicos no me van XD

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Who knows, maybe I'm one of the only people in existence who enjoy good long novels about buildings. But then, there are a lot of fans of Follet's Pillars of the Earth, so maybe not. Are people the thing? Or is it place? Or what happens when we start confusing a place with the persons within it? Notre-Dame is a misshapen monster with a lumpy heart and a lumpy head. Or wait, is that Quasimodo? Is Esmeralda a good-natured gypsy dancer or is the spine of Paris itself? Seen this way, the whole tragedy Who knows, maybe I'm one of the only people in existence who enjoy good long novels about buildings. But then, there are a lot of fans of Follet's Pillars of the Earth, so maybe not. Are people the thing? Or is it place? Or what happens when we start confusing a place with the persons within it? Notre-Dame is a misshapen monster with a lumpy heart and a lumpy head. Or wait, is that Quasimodo? Is Esmeralda a good-natured gypsy dancer or is the spine of Paris itself? Seen this way, the whole tragedy of Esmeralda's gross miscarriage of justice (or the BIG IDEA writ as architecture in Notre-Dame, Quasimodo) being the gross travesty of France's history, takes on a wickedly abusive satirical slant. Or, if you prefer, a blind, deaf, and dumb legal drama so obviously obtuse as to become a farce... or is it? No. It's firmly a tragedy. Witch-killers, inquisition, hungry mobs, vagabond guilds, and blithe royalty, clergy, poets, and tradesmen... well, it's a sad, sorry tragedy where everyone gets a trowel up the flue. Did I like? That's hard to say. I loved the architecture rambling bits, which, I might say, might be the least favorite bits of other people. The characters themselves were sometimes amusing but always writ larger than life. I like that sometimes, and I liked it here most of the time. But there were points at which the tale seemed to get derailed and the more subtle points that Hugo WANTED to make, satire-wise, were lost in the drench of pathos. Overall, a solid novel and it certainly doesn't fail to entertain, but I can't quite put it up there as an absolute classic.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I want to state clearly that the book is not bad. I gave it two stars, and by that I mean it is OK! First of all, there are some really gorgeous lines. Secondly, Hugo has the ability to put you in the middle of an event; you are right there and it is whirling around you. Thirdly, he has a talent for weaving non-fictional facts into a fictional story. Sometimes the writing feels wordy. Other times, Hugo expresses himself superbly, beautifully, elegantly. The fictional elements are what give me the I want to state clearly that the book is not bad. I gave it two stars, and by that I mean it is OK! First of all, there are some really gorgeous lines. Secondly, Hugo has the ability to put you in the middle of an event; you are right there and it is whirling around you. Thirdly, he has a talent for weaving non-fictional facts into a fictional story. Sometimes the writing feels wordy. Other times, Hugo expresses himself superbly, beautifully, elegantly. The fictional elements are what give me the most trouble. Hugo and his writing and particularly this book belong to the French Romantic Movement of literature. It is not merely that romance is a central theme, but rather that the whole style of writing is romantic, sentimental, exaggerated and overwrought. Excess and exaggeration are the defining ingredients of every event that occurs. Personally, I can deal with romance if presented in a realistic, believable manner. That is not what is delivered here! None of the fictional elements of this story can be characterized as down to earth, believable or realistic. At the start, you work on understanding what is going on. The confusion clears, and the reader begins to know who is who and what is happening. The momentum builds. Most is still within bounds. Then, all breaks loose and reality totally dissolves. Some excitement is fine. I was engaged; I thought the events were exciting. Then, with one thing on top of the other, all credibility is lost. This draws for you how it feels to progress through the book. There are long chapters devoid of characters or plot. In these the time frame departs from the Middle Ages, goes centuries back and up to when the book was printed in 1831. Hugo leaves the story and focuses on architecture, its essence, its importance and various styles. He speaks of the history of Paris, that is to say how the city of Paris has developed over centuries. These sections are interesting, but they are weakly tied to the story. Hugo is delivering a message. As a result of the book, in Paris, buildings of the Gothic style came to be restored! This being exactly what the author had attempted to achieve. There is humor, often ironic in tone, criticizing the Church, royalty, aristocracy and class. Pay attention to the lines, there is humor everywhere. Individual characters are poked at and made fun of. This is a book of historical fiction, written by Hugo primarily from September 1830 to February 1831, but it is about events occurring during three months in 1482. The setting is Paris under the reign of King Louis XI. The cathedral itself is a central character. In French, the book was originally entitled Notre-Dame de Paris. The English translation by Frederic Shoberl in 1833 changed the title to The Hunchback of Notre-Dame to attract readers of Gothic fiction popular in Britain at that time. This is a book about head-over-heels, passionate love, love at first sight. Love without bounds. It is about unrequited love. It is also about love, not of the heart, but of convenience. It is about being torn between love of a woman and love of God, faith and religion. There is witchery, murder, attempted rape, hangings and torture. Each occurring several times. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Bill Homewood. I don’t think he does a bad job. The way he reads captures the feel of the author’s words. Nevertheless, the evil characters sound the same--mean and gruff and dark. There is the angelic Esmeralda, sounding meek. Contrary to this, the other women are shrill. You can group the characters into types; listening you know to which group each individual belongs. If you are really lazy, you need not even listen to the words, just listen to the tones! I say this as a joke, as a poke. In my view, it is the author who has over-simplified his characters; the narrator is only mirroring what the author has created. I prefer Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. It isn’t as fanciful as this and has more interesting historical tidbits. Both have lyrical lines, both have exciting episodes, and both enable a reader to experience another time and place in history. I like how Victor Hugo writes, but the story of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is too unbelievable for me! It is interesting to note that in France the author’s poetry collections are more popular than his novels.

  15. 4 out of 5

    ♔ Leah.

    This is definitely my favourite classic, I loved the dark atmosphere of the book, and the setting being Notre-Dame, which is one of my favourite places in Paris. It's not entirely dark and horrible, there are times when it can be humorous, but it's brutal in terms of showing what obsession can become when it's misunderstood as love and the true form of love shown by other characters. When starting this book, it was really difficult to get into which is why I had to force myself to keep reading u This is definitely my favourite classic, I loved the dark atmosphere of the book, and the setting being Notre-Dame, which is one of my favourite places in Paris. It's not entirely dark and horrible, there are times when it can be humorous, but it's brutal in terms of showing what obsession can become when it's misunderstood as love and the true form of love shown by other characters. When starting this book, it was really difficult to get into which is why I had to force myself to keep reading until about 60 pages in (with the introduction) when I got into the plot. The story follows different characters, as well as flashbacks and Hugo's knowledge of Notre-Dame and Paris as a city. I also love how the cathedral is a metaphor for beauty and the beast as a balanced whole— the gargoyles being a representation of Quasimodo and the famous Rose window being Esmeralda, 2 distinct features of the cathedral. *spoilers ahead* I didn't like Frollo at all, I found him to be a fucking creeper and I didn't sympathize at all with him, and I'm baffled as how people could love him. the stuff he did was sickening:— the attempted rape of Esmeralda, forcing her to love him, laughing when she was hanged, not even caring for his adopted son, Quasimodo, when he was being jeered by the crowd. He was nasty and I didn't feel for him at all, because he didn't deserve to be sympathized with. Esmeralda, as much as I liked her for being compassionate towards Quasimodo, was shallow and naive. I could have played a drinking game as to how many times she says Phoebus' name during her scenes. She was foolish and pathetically in love with Phoebus because he was handsome when really he was cold and lecherous and only wanted to get in her pants. Like Frollo, she thought that lust was love, when really it was not. The story was heart-breaking and tragic, it really showed how appearances and social positions in society can be deceiving, and how cruel it could be for individuals who were good. Overall rating is 4.5

  16. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    Victor Hugo’s first real novel, written under duress from his publisher!! Nevertheless, he manages to render a dark environment joyous, almost funny at times. For me, the protagonist is not Quasimodo but Esmeralda. It’s her inner and outer struggles we have access to the most. As usual, Victor Hugo portrayed them realistically, neither all good nor all bad, thus humane and credible. Even Gringoire and Claude are portrayed that way, as human beings subjected to primal instincts and humane spiritu Victor Hugo’s first real novel, written under duress from his publisher!! Nevertheless, he manages to render a dark environment joyous, almost funny at times. For me, the protagonist is not Quasimodo but Esmeralda. It’s her inner and outer struggles we have access to the most. As usual, Victor Hugo portrayed them realistically, neither all good nor all bad, thus humane and credible. Even Gringoire and Claude are portrayed that way, as human beings subjected to primal instincts and humane spirituality. In this novel Victor Hugo attacks Prejudice and Justice simultaneously: the deaf judge, judging a deaf defendant; and the judgment of Esmeralda’s goat!!! Quasimodo’s inner conflict over Claude at the end is deeply moving. Claude brought him up as father, then broke his heart by trying to harm Esmeralda. Ultimately, Quasimodo’s spirituality wins over his animal-like devotion to Claude... The final scene where we discover the skeleton of Quasimodo next to Esmeralda brought me to tears.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    It’s quite a few years since I last listened to an audio book. Years ago I used to take out audiobooks on CD from my local library and listen to them when I was driving, but then car manufacturers stopped putting CD players in cars, and for various reasons I didn’t get into the habit of listening to audiobooks via downloads, until now. There’s a moderate but limited selection available from same library, so I decided to start with Victor Hugo’s meandering but majestic novel, which I’d never befo It’s quite a few years since I last listened to an audio book. Years ago I used to take out audiobooks on CD from my local library and listen to them when I was driving, but then car manufacturers stopped putting CD players in cars, and for various reasons I didn’t get into the habit of listening to audiobooks via downloads, until now. There’s a moderate but limited selection available from same library, so I decided to start with Victor Hugo’s meandering but majestic novel, which I’d never before read. I listened to this in English translation, and I daresay something of the book may have been lost in that. I suspect that if I had tried to read this rather than listen to it, I might have given up in the early stages, since the opening section featuring Pierre Gringoire’s play seemed rambling and initially directionless. Moreover, I hadn’t realised that Victor Hugo had an interest in architecture that bordered on the obsessional. Entire chapters of the book are taken up with the architectural history of Notre Dame de Paris, the architecture of old Paris, and the role of architecture in culture. I found the last of these was a bit of a struggle to get through. But I was won over by the story, which is magnificent. With four thousand reviews on this site at the time of writing, I’m not going to spend too much time on adding comments. The complex and interconnected stories of the main characters; the memorable characters themselves; the fantastic descriptions of medieval Paris; the two stories of romantic obsession; the associated story of controlling sexual obsession; and the sense of inexorable fate within the novel; altogether make it easy to see why this has become one of the most famous tales of all time. Stick with it, and it all comes together!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Antoinette

    This book was one of the most arduous reads ever!!! I can’t remember the last time it took me a month to read a book. This is a story of love and obsession. It’s centre point is the Notre Dame Cathedral. There were so many side characters and interruptions, the story just bogged down. All I want to know is where was Quasimodo, the “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” He didn’t really figure for at least two thirds of the book. The highlights were when he was front and centre, otherwise the book was a total This book was one of the most arduous reads ever!!! I can’t remember the last time it took me a month to read a book. This is a story of love and obsession. It’s centre point is the Notre Dame Cathedral. There were so many side characters and interruptions, the story just bogged down. All I want to know is where was Quasimodo, the “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” He didn’t really figure for at least two thirds of the book. The highlights were when he was front and centre, otherwise the book was a total slog and sleep inducer. I read this book for my classics group, so to be honest, I would not have finished it otherwise.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yara (The Narratologist)

    Disney lied to us. … Let me specify. You probably guessed that Victor Hugo’s novel does not have dancing gargoyles or Wizard of Oz references, but it goes much deeper than that. In fact, we can trace its primary misdirection back to whoever first decided on the English translation of the title of the book: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. This implies that the main character of the story is Quasimodo, the misformed outcast with a heart of gold who longs to spend oooone daaay ooouuut theeeeere. Howeve Disney lied to us. … Let me specify. You probably guessed that Victor Hugo’s novel does not have dancing gargoyles or Wizard of Oz references, but it goes much deeper than that. In fact, we can trace its primary misdirection back to whoever first decided on the English translation of the title of the book: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. This implies that the main character of the story is Quasimodo, the misformed outcast with a heart of gold who longs to spend oooone daaay ooouuut theeeeere. However, Hugo’s original French title is much more accurate: Notre-Dame de Paris. This focus of the novel is on its setting rather than its protagonists – we follow a cast of characters, but in the end, all roads lead to the cathedral. Read More

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    What happened to the beginning of this unabridged story!? For 300 pages, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was scribed like a meandering storyline over a checkerboard, each square representing a chapter of the book. The few squares scribed directly by the line told fleeting, but essential parts of the story (about Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Frollo). The more numerous squares adjacent to the scribed storyline told even less essential bits of the story. And, the majority of squares, several dozen chapter What happened to the beginning of this unabridged story!? For 300 pages, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was scribed like a meandering storyline over a checkerboard, each square representing a chapter of the book. The few squares scribed directly by the line told fleeting, but essential parts of the story (about Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Frollo). The more numerous squares adjacent to the scribed storyline told even less essential bits of the story. And, the majority of squares, several dozen chapters, were far removed from the storyline, and had almost nothing to do with the concluding thrust of action in the book. It's not that the story dawdled; its just that most chapters were simply irrevelant to the main characters for the greater part of 300 pages. I'm not declaring that the writing was no good. On the contrary, as you'll see below, the writing was detailed and powerful, and I record several favorite examples. This is my first encounter with Victor Hugo's literature, and the sweep of his writing clearly indicates that he is a master polyhistor. However, even after concluding the book, I felt that several dozen chapters--most at the beginning, but even some near the end--were completely unnecessary. That's a cocky, absurd statement from someone who can't write like Victor Hugo, but in this case it leads me to understand why there are several hundred versions of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and why most of those versions are abridged. In fact many versions are children's picture books, which capture the essential story, and excise chapters of the checkerboard that don't relate to the main three protagonists. I understand that Hugo had to provide deep background for the story. It was essential to describe Notre-Dame and important for the reader to understand the life and times of late-medeival Paris. It's important to envision the environment and atmosphere in which the action takes place. It's critical to see the characters' early actions to translate and understand the profundity of their actions later. Yes, this all makes sense. In fulfilling this background, however, Hugo spent the greater part of 300 pages following a minor character, Gringiore. Gringiore did not serve as a foil, or a fulcrum, or a window into the main characters. No, he's a bit character whose importance actually declines toward the end. We have tantalizingly few descriptions about, and even less spoken words from, the key players. I do enjoy classics--the timing it takes to develop; the word choice, the author's methodology; the subtlety, metaphor, and symbology that requires numerous re-readings to truly appreciate; the transcendence of the author's message or lesson. The last third of this book is the real classic. Oh, how I wish Hugo had focused early on Quasimodo, Frollo, and La Esmeralda, and never let go. These characters are fertile, anomolous, and peculiar enough for all the chapters of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. There are some incredibly turbocharged chapters, some of which were written akin to tragic Romantic soliloquies. Particularly: - Book V, Ch II when Hugo rants about about how the written word has usurped architecture - Book VIII, Ch IV when Frollo declares his love - Book X, Ch I when Esmeralda meets her mother, and the mob attacks Notre-Dame There are other problems I had with the book, though. The translator provided 20 pages of footnotes. Footnotes usually provide key information for understanding deep background. These footnotes, however, often called attention to Hugo's repeated misuse of Spanish and Italian. They also provided reference or explanation for things that were obscure, not exceptionally pertinent, and that didn't help backstage the story (for example, telling the real name of a building that doesn't actually exist anymore, legal cannon from the twelfth century, and what isolated Parisian neighborhoods used to be called before they disappeared to history). The notes, overwhelmingly, are simple translations of Latin, without explanation of why or to what purpose Hugo was using a particular Latin phrase. This is wholly my own prejudice, I know, but I fear that over time, Hugo's footnotes will become more and more obscure without better translation. Similar to how I feel about John Updike's writing. Several hundred years from now, readers will miss the awesome amount of reference that Updike makes to current cultural idiosycrasies and Americana, and will eventually require several hundred footnotes per book. I also had a small problem with Hugo refering to us as 'the reader.' At one point he actually refers to 'this book' that he's writing. It just seemed to make the discourse between author and reader a bit too chatty. And, just too much Latin. I would have preferred the translator insert English into the body of the text, while providing footnotes that displayed and explained the author's original Latin. I read every footnote, and felt that it was too much. New words: escutcheon, breviary, pudendum, orpiment, woad Quotes: - "Oh how hollow science sounds when you dash against it in despair a head filled with passions." (p. 329) - "Grief like this never grows old. For a mother who has lost her child, it is always the first day. This pain never ages. It is useless that the colors of mourning fade. The heart remains black as ever." (p.338) - "Nobody had noticed in the gallery of the royal statues, immediately above the pointed arches of the entrance, a strange-looking spectator, who had till then been watching everything impassively, head so outstretched, visage so deformed that, except for his apparel, half red and half purple, he might have been taken for one of those stone monsters out or whose mouths the long gutters of the cathedral have for these six hundred years disgorged themselves." (p. 354) - "He ran through the fields until nightfall. This flight from nature, from life, from himself, from man, from God, from everything, lasted till evening. Sometimes he threw himself on his face on the earth and tore up the young corn with his fingers; at other moments he paused in some lone village street, and his thoughts were so unbearable that he grasped his head with both hands and tried to wrench it from his shoulders in order to dash it against the ground." (p. 360) - "The night was cold. The sky was covered with clouds, the large white masses of which, overlapping each other at the edges and being compressed at the corners, resembled the ice of a river that has broken up in winter. The crescent moon, embedded in those clouds, looked like a celestial ship surrounded by aerial sheets of ice." (p. 367) - "The round room was very spacious, but the tables were crammed so close together, and the customers so numerous, that all the contents of the tavern, men and women, benches and beer jugs, those who were drinking, those who were sleeping, those who were gambling, the able-bodied and the cripple, seemed to be tumbled together chaotically, with just as much order and harmony as a pile of oyster shells." (p. 407)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    I don’t know about you, but I think about obsessional crimes and stalking as modern phenomena, exacerbated by life in huge cities. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame demonstrates that there is truly nothing new under the sun. Victor Hugo wrote this tale of obsession in the 1800s. The gypsy girl, La Esmeralda, has the misfortune of attracting the obsessional gaze of two men, the archdeacon Claude Frollo and his protégé, the deformed bell-ringer of the cathedral, Quasimodo. She, in her turn, is fixated o I don’t know about you, but I think about obsessional crimes and stalking as modern phenomena, exacerbated by life in huge cities. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame demonstrates that there is truly nothing new under the sun. Victor Hugo wrote this tale of obsession in the 1800s. The gypsy girl, La Esmeralda, has the misfortune of attracting the obsessional gaze of two men, the archdeacon Claude Frollo and his protégé, the deformed bell-ringer of the cathedral, Quasimodo. She, in her turn, is fixated on handsome Captain Phoebus, who couldn’t care less about her although he is willing to take advantage of her when an opportunity presents itself. None of these people actually know one another—they have only observed from afar and projected their own fantasies onto other people. Quasimodo has the most reason for his adoration of La Esmeralda—she brought him water while he was incapacitated at the pillory during an undeserved punishment. Earlier, we see La Esmeralda save Pierre Gringoire, the unsuccessful playwright, from hanging by accepting him as a temporary husband. Pierre is somewhat disappointed when he discovers that she intends a platonic relationship, but is sensible enough to appreciate that her kindness has spared his life. La Esmeralda is presented as a kind, good person. But like many women, she finds herself the focus of unwanted male attention. We often think of stalking in relation to celebrity, but in reality many ordinary citizens find themselves the object of obsession of other “regular” people. A waitress may, by serving a cup of coffee, unwittingly launch an obsessive on a mission to “own” her. Having had a small brush with such behaviour myself, I have realized how startlingly easy it is to become involved in such situations. There are so many lonely people living in our cities, who are used to being ignored while resenting it. If your job requires you to be polite and helpful, these folks may misinterpret your intentions. The crumbs of attention that they receive from you may trigger that hunger for more, beginning something that you never meant to start and which you feel powerless to stop. At the same time, La Esmeralda is guilty of a similar behaviour—she knows nothing about Phoebus except that he is handsome and wears a beautiful uniform. She is very young and it is like a young woman today becoming enamoured of a celebrity. Unlike many, La Esmeralda has the opportunity to meet her crush and is only prevented from consummating her desires by her stalker, Archdeacon Frollo. None of this can end well. Modern instances of stalking are liable to end in death, either of the pursuer or the pursued. The HoND deals with these apparently timeless topics—I’m reminded of Shakespeare’s tragedies, especially Othello. Victor Hugo’s tale definitely deserves its reputation as classic literature.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rinda Elwakil

    “God helps the outcasts.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte May

    A really tough slog for me I found.... maybe I'll try it again in the future, but I really had to push myself to finish this.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    When approaching and reading this fascinating narrative, the reader is well advised to try and forget the silly Walt Disney film based on the story. This work is far more finely wrought, more complex and subtle, more emotionally wrenching and profound than that ridiculous movie suggests. As with Les Miserables, attempts to dramatize such a long and multi-plotted work inevitably fall short and are best forgotten when one turns to the books themselves. Many historical personages are mentioned in th When approaching and reading this fascinating narrative, the reader is well advised to try and forget the silly Walt Disney film based on the story. This work is far more finely wrought, more complex and subtle, more emotionally wrenching and profound than that ridiculous movie suggests. As with Les Miserables, attempts to dramatize such a long and multi-plotted work inevitably fall short and are best forgotten when one turns to the books themselves. Many historical personages are mentioned in this novel. It is not necessary to know who these people were, but it does enhance the verisimilitude of the narrative and adds to the interest. The work is after all an historical novel, and some knowledge of the times in France is helpful. The dedicated reader might want to review French history in 1482, during the reign of Louis XI, to get a flavor of what the story is about. Few authors have been able so evocatively to conjure a sense of place as Hugo’s late 15th century Paris (many places are very recognizable to today’s reader who has been to Paris and walked its streets). Paris is a primary character in this narrative, and at its center is its omphalos, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in all its shabby grandeur, its mouldering deterioration (Hugo’s description of the cathedral apparently did lead to its restoration later in the 19th century). Everything revolves around the building and its site, and it is an orienting and a brooding presence throughout the novel. The French title for this book is, of course, Notre-Dame de Paris. Hugo has long interpolated chapters in which the author speaks directly to the reader, commenting not only on the action to date but also digressing to speak more philosophically about human trends and human progress, as in a chapter where he discusses the gradual demise of the preeminence of architecture as the mode of human expression and teaching and the rise of literature as the printing press appeared. This transition and transformation was both the product of and also enabled the rise of the democratic and Enlightenment spirit as power and control shifted from the Church and the aristocracy to the populace. Some readers might be impatient with these interruptions; I found them fascinating not only as philosophical ruminations but as reflections of the ideas emerging and coalescing in the early 19th century, an example of the philosophy of ideas continually mutates and evolves. Hugo’s exquisite sense of pace and timing, alternating chapters in such a way that the reader cannot turn aside but submits to the author’s choice of topic and emotional tenor as the strands of the plot unravel one by one, enhances rather than detracts from the novel. The complex plot, which I will not attempt to summarize here, involves the gypsy girl Esmeraldo, the unworthy soldier whom she loves, Captain Phoebus, and the two men who love her, the complex and ultimately maleficent Archdeacon Claude Frollo and the deformed Notre Dame bellringer Quasimodo. Suffice it to say, almost everyone comes to a bad end. Hugo is capable of including almost unnoticed details throughout the course of the text that symbolically tie the narrative together. A single example is Esmeralda’s tiny embroidered infant shoe at the beginning of her life of joy and hope, and the buskin of torture that is the emblem of her fate and death. On the other hand, his control of dialogue, sometimes astute and skillful, can also falter badly. The love talk between Esmeralda and Phoebus sounds stereotyped and stilted, symptomatic of times in the narrative when I felt the tone was unconvincing. Many of his dialogues are weak, out of character for the individuals into whose mouths he puts them or unconvincing in the context of the immediate action. Psychologically he can be more astute, for example in the development of Frollo’s character, a case of asceticism trying to overcompensate for the attractiveness of sensuality. Why is sex always so demonized? Is it due to the apparent loss of control that it produces? Humankind has difficulty letting go, and yet letting go is what ultimately each of us must do, for that is what aging and death cause and require. It is no wonder that the French call orgasm “la petite mort.” In Frollo, Hugo paints a picture of progressive and total alienation from the self, despair that utterly unhinges reason, the sickness unto death. Is Hugo’s depiction essential anti-clerical or can it be generalized beyond that? Certainly the latter. Hugo, in his descriptions and his dialogue, can be frenzied and impassioned, histrionic and wrenching. He can be psychological penetrating and astute, and he can be both subtle and moving. He can also sometimes be maudlin and almost silly, excessive in the detail and the imaginativeness of his descriptions of place, emotions, and behavior. At such times he runs the risk of losing the reader, of causing the reader to recoil from engagement with the narrative and to respond with skepticism. It is a fine line that he treads, and sometimes he steps over it, breaking the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief. Is this always the danger in Gothic historical romance novels? It need not be, I think, but the risk is real. The narrative is an exploration of love, love in all its varieties and dimensions, its tenderness and loveliness, its anguish and extremes and perversions. Each kind of love is personified in one of the story’s main characters, and it is interesting to see such a global emotion or impulse dissected, examined in one dimension or another. Is any character, however, complete? Does any contain all these dimensions within himself or herself in the way each of us truly does? Or does each character simply present himself or herself as a caricature in this novel, rather than as a rounded personality? Perhaps Claude Frollo is the most fully realized character, the character most psychologically complex, the character who develops most dramatically during the narrative. Perhaps even more than love, Hugo’s obsession is with Fate, the Ananká he describes having seen written on an interior wall of Notre Dame. Writing at a time when his political hopes have been disappointed, he turns to the writing of literature to express his understanding of life, its twists and turns. His characters play out this theme, almost all tragically. In this novel, Hugo has woven a tale that is compelling, not a flawless work but one that engages the reader and is hard to forget.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    How strange it felt to read the scene about the fire on Notre-Dame, imagining it, the colors and all, and to learn, at the same instant, that the real cathedral was actually on fire; I felt like an abominable witch! And stopped reading while watching tv, disbelieving. But let's concentrate on the book. What I love about Hugo's books is the writing. It's so beautiful, it flows, it's agreeable to read, and the novel doesn't feel long thanks to it. The reader can find many gorgeous quotes about dif How strange it felt to read the scene about the fire on Notre-Dame, imagining it, the colors and all, and to learn, at the same instant, that the real cathedral was actually on fire; I felt like an abominable witch! And stopped reading while watching tv, disbelieving. But let's concentrate on the book. What I love about Hugo's books is the writing. It's so beautiful, it flows, it's agreeable to read, and the novel doesn't feel long thanks to it. The reader can find many gorgeous quotes about different topics, be it architecture, books, or friendship, love, family. The thing I really don't like about Hugo's books is the multiple digressions. It can drive the reader mad, as it cuts the story, sometimes completely, to focus on things the reader often doesn't care about. Don't get me wrong: I loved some of the digressions, mostly the ones about architecture, the one about its "struggle" against printing was my favorite. But all the historical references which have nothing to do with the actual story were sometimes tiresome. I wanted to go back to the characters and what was happening to them!! (they are also introduced quite late in the book I thought!) The story itself was - I want to say as usual, but I have not read all of Hugo's books, so … - very cruel. All the characters are brokenbefore the book starts, or will be broken along the pages. It's depressing; the reader despairs for the characters. No happy ending, which is not surprising - I was still shocked, I wasn't prepared for this! The ending is heartbreaking, so cruel it seems impossible. Now, the characters. Oh, I have feelings!! - Esmeralda: I was incapable to love her fully, and to really grow attached to her because she is so superficial. She only sees and watches the surface of things: (view spoiler)[because Quasimodo is ugly, she doesn't seem to feel gratitude, or real pity; she doesn't care about him, and she seems super cold-hearted! She goes as far as to forget his existence! And she can think of nothing but Phoebus!! Because he is handsome!! And, therefore, chivalrous, like a fucking Prince Charming!! And because he swore he loved her!! ARE YOU SERIOUS GIRL?!!! (hide spoiler)] - Quasimodo: a really moving character even if I'm not sure it was what the author wanted. He is described as awfully ugly, and the narrator explains that, because of his appearance, he can't be but an half-formed being, an half-formed soul, an imperfect soul. I thought it was borderline. He broke my heart to pieces. He is my favorite character, without a doubt! Misunderstood, mistreated, despised, he defends himself as best he can, but he is completely submitted to two characters who play with him. - Frollo: definitely an interesting character. I felt pity for him, but also "hatred" of a kind, aversion. He can't do anything against what he feels, but it isn't really love (or INSTA-LOVE: great negative point of the entire book); it's more like desire, passion. He can't control it; he isn't himself anymore, he is completely lost in the twists and turns of a feeling he wasn't ever suppose to feel, a feeling he is discovering, and one that frightens him. It can leave the reader to think about the priests' chastity in the Catholic Church… Some of my favorite scenes involved him! - Phoebus: ah! A new addition to the list of my most hated characters! I can't bear him: a seducer, a coward, indifferent to anyone but him. (view spoiler)[He knows Esmeralda was condemned for his murder: he is alive, and he knows it was her but the priest he let enter in the bedroom where they were supposed to have sex; he knew the other one would watch it all!!!! Rah, how I hate him!! And how I'm frustrated with Esmeralda, who doesn't understand he is a coward!! (hide spoiler)] So, it was a great read, but I don't like everything about this book. It's definitely worth the read!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Melodramatic historical novel set in late medieval Paris. Read it once some years ago, it was a Christmas gift, and was disappointed by it - I was expecting something different I suppose, in my innocence I could not even conceive then that Victor Hugo was none other than the fabled Mr Melodrama himself, which is possibly why in his house on Guernsey he had carpet on the ceiling. On the one hand the elder brothers infatuation I felt should have lead to something more psychologically intense while Melodramatic historical novel set in late medieval Paris. Read it once some years ago, it was a Christmas gift, and was disappointed by it - I was expecting something different I suppose, in my innocence I could not even conceive then that Victor Hugo was none other than the fabled Mr Melodrama himself, which is possibly why in his house on Guernsey he had carpet on the ceiling. On the one hand the elder brothers infatuation I felt should have lead to something more psychologically intense while on the other the description of the bandits and of the King with his captives kept in cages hanging from the ceiling of his great hall had more of a comic tone. I felt the book was stuck somewhere uncomfortable between the irrepressible exuberance of Robert Louis Stevenson and the Romantic tartan nostalgia of Walter Scott. Mind you I also disliked Les Miserables, at some point you do need to learn from your own reading experiences. Something you have to be at the right age or in the right mood to read possibly.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The writing is brilliant, the plot is unusual. But-- perhaps like in life-- where are the good guys? Esmerelda doesn't say much other than "Oh Pheobus!" She's a very flat character, imho. The book seems to be a study in love gone wrong-- romantic love, parental love, all gone wrong. There are examples of charitable love toward Quasimoto, and in the end he performs a selfless act for Esmerelda, but overall it was a very depressing look at love vs lust, and a study in what not to do. five stars fo The writing is brilliant, the plot is unusual. But-- perhaps like in life-- where are the good guys? Esmerelda doesn't say much other than "Oh Pheobus!" She's a very flat character, imho. The book seems to be a study in love gone wrong-- romantic love, parental love, all gone wrong. There are examples of charitable love toward Quasimoto, and in the end he performs a selfless act for Esmerelda, but overall it was a very depressing look at love vs lust, and a study in what not to do. five stars for the writing itself (lovely), but docked a point because it leaves me discouraged with everyone.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Sorbello

    I appreciate what this novel has accomplished, it’s truly an impressive feat. But it was a massive slog to get through, it put me to sleep and gave me headaches on multiple occasions. It’s less of a story and more of a study on gothic architecture. I love gothic architecture as much as the next guy, but 600 pages of repetitive, long-winded descriptions of it? I can only handle so much before I want to rip my eyes out. I enjoyed the bits of plot here and there, the elements of tragic irony especi I appreciate what this novel has accomplished, it’s truly an impressive feat. But it was a massive slog to get through, it put me to sleep and gave me headaches on multiple occasions. It’s less of a story and more of a study on gothic architecture. I love gothic architecture as much as the next guy, but 600 pages of repetitive, long-winded descriptions of it? I can only handle so much before I want to rip my eyes out. I enjoyed the bits of plot here and there, the elements of tragic irony especially. But it was hard to fully appreciate these moments as I was frustrated and exhausted with reading through the dry descriptions by the time I finally got to them. I’m glad I read the book, but I can’t say I got much enjoyment from it. I had similar feelings about The Mysteries of Udolpho.

  29. 5 out of 5

    lydia

    “Homo homini monstrum.” When I was fourteen years old, I decided to read this book, because I loved the Disney movie and I thought it was about time to find out more about the original story. At first I was very excited, but soon Hugo's long descriptions put me off and I didn't manage to finish it. Six years later, I found myself reading the book again and actually enjoying it this time, maybe due to the fact that I am now a more patient reader and I wasn't so easily discouraged by the extended p “Homo homini monstrum.” When I was fourteen years old, I decided to read this book, because I loved the Disney movie and I thought it was about time to find out more about the original story. At first I was very excited, but soon Hugo's long descriptions put me off and I didn't manage to finish it. Six years later, I found myself reading the book again and actually enjoying it this time, maybe due to the fact that I am now a more patient reader and I wasn't so easily discouraged by the extended portraiture of medieval Paris. It's true that modern novelists, more often than not, prefer to focus on the plot rather than give a detailed description of the surroundings, but that wasn't always the case. Classic novels are usually more slow paced and the authors tend to concentrate on portraying the society that surrounds their heroes. In my opinion, they tried to educate their readers through their stories, not only to entertain them. So if you are looking for sheer entertainment, you should pick the Hunger Games and not this book (don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the Hunger Games). While reading The Hunchback of Notre-Dame you will come across a vast amount of information about medieval times, about how society suffered from prejudice and fear and how the judicial system controlled by the king and the church only managed to make things worse. It's not “Les Miserables”, but Hugo manages to create characters tormented by everything wrong in their times in this book as well; Esmeralda is accused of being a witch only because she is a gypsy, Quasimodo is shunned by everyone due to his deformity, and Frollo, having grown up in a deeply theocratic and conservative society, is terrified in the face of lust and passion- feelings so deeply connected with the human nature but which were also considered great sins. That belief is what led him to his downfall. When it comes to the characters most of them are well built and realistic, with the exception of Esmeralda. The only thing we really get to know about her is that she is extremely beautiful- apart from that she spends her time dancing or crying or mumbling Phoebus's name. She was such a disappointment, maybe because I was expecting her to be more like the quick witted and fiery Esmeralda from the Disney movie. It's true that she is only sixteen in the book, but still her naivety and blindness to what was really going on made me want to slap her. Frollo, on the other hand, although supposedly a bad guy, is actually one of the most complicated and troubled characters I've ever came across, and I couldn't help but sympathise with him. After years of trying to distance himself from the human world, lost into his big books, suppressing his emotions he is a bomb ready to explode- and this is exactly what happens when he sets eyes on Esmeralda. She is not only a woman to him, she is the incarnation of all his repressed needs and desires and this is why he becomes so obsessed with her and violent. All in all,it is a great book, heartbreaking and shocking, as it captures perfectly what a human being is capable of doing when desire takes control. Lust-and not love- destroyed Frollo, but the same applies to Quasimodo, Esmeralda (her obsession with Phoebus led her to some kind of apathy and made her fate inevitable), even Frollo's younger brother, a funny lad who never learnt the importance of putting reason before the gratification of every desire.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lance Carney

    Poor, tragic Quasimodo. For the third book of my insomnia series (behind War and Peace, Don Quixote) I decided to read a story I was familiar with through the films. Quasimodo’s love for the gypsy Esmerelda is there, but Captain Phoebus’ love for her is of a different variety and he is certainly no hero (would Phoebus be the next sexual predator outed in this day and time?) And there is certainly no happy ever after for Esmerelda at the end (of a rope). On a positive note, the lengthy description Poor, tragic Quasimodo. For the third book of my insomnia series (behind War and Peace, Don Quixote) I decided to read a story I was familiar with through the films. Quasimodo’s love for the gypsy Esmerelda is there, but Captain Phoebus’ love for her is of a different variety and he is certainly no hero (would Phoebus be the next sexual predator outed in this day and time?) And there is certainly no happy ever after for Esmerelda at the end (of a rope). On a positive note, the lengthy descriptions of Paris and architecture throughout the book helped cure my insomnia on those nights. I also found some great quotes: “Time is a devourer; man, more so.” and when Esmerelda is ignoring him for Phoebus, Quasimodo says, “Damnation! That is what one should be like! ‘Tis only necessary to be handsome on the outside!” So, let the myriad bells of Notre Dame, with their little copper tongues, peal loud and long. Ring on, Quasimodo, ring on.

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