The Hunchback of Notre Dame

ISBN: 1556853904
ISBN 13: 9781556853906
By: Victor Hugo

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Reader's Thoughts

Laurele

A tour de force--a melodrama--the stuff of opera--how can one classify Victor Hugo's biography of a work of architecture and of that work's soul, a deformed man with a beautiful heart? The author moves with such a quick, sure foot through the tale with its multiple characters, from beggar to king, that believe him we must, at least with some part of our being. It is not a work to analyze, but certainly one to live.

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 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.

Ahmed

ببساطه احنا كبشر بنحتاج نمتلك الشفقه تجاه الغير الشفقه اللى ترضى غرورنا البشرى وترجع لنا جزء من انسانيتنا المفقودةوبراعة المبدع انه يكون من عالم مختلف وثقافة مختلفةوزمن مغاير لزمنك ويقدر يأثر عليك بالقدر الكافى.فيكتور هوجو مش محتاج ان حد يمدح فيه فهو من القامات الثابته فى مجال الادب ومن البشر اللى يسجلوا ف قائمة الارقى على الاطلاقواحدب نوتردامهى احب اعماله الى قلبى واكثرها تأثيرا عمل لا تستطيع ان تنسى اول مره قرأته فيه لانك ببساطه كيد بكيت فيه بدموعتسلسل الاحداث عبقرى ونهايته المأساويه اعطت للعمل خلود واسطوريه لا تقارن

Ben

First of all, forget everything you think you know about this story based on Disney films or other adaptions. This is a horrid account of death in the stylings of Shakespearean tragedy offset by brilliant and imaginitive prose.Victor Hugo craftily employs character contrast, metaphor, split narrative, etc to render "Hunchback". Without going to much into detail, I will say these are merely devices by which Hugo drafts the misunderstandings and tragedy that would ensue through the story: Esmerelda misunderstanding Phoebus' "love" and being wrongly accused for a death that did not happen, Claude Frollo misunderstanding how to express love and how to fill the void left in its absence, the parentage of several characters, the King's orders without proper information, etc.Quasimodo seems to be the only character in tune with his own quality, as ugly and mis-shapen as he is. And thusly, like the great cathedral herself, he watches this all unfold and reacts in a fairly dumb, child-like fashion. The final events of the story could have all been avoided had certain social or cultural qualities been eliminated, which is, I'm sure, Hugo's point.It is a fantastic read, but be warned - you will not put the book down feeling good about...anything.

Gaijinmama

Well, first and foremost, this is not a Disney movie!The title is a misnomer. The original French title is Notre Dame de Paris and the cathedral itself is the star of this show. The unfortunate hunchback is in maybea third of the scenes.I actually wept at the end of Hugo's Les Misérables so I was expecting the same level of brilliance and connection. It didn't happen. This one was sad and violent and just so terribly unfair, but the characters just did not touch my heart the way Jean Valjean did. In fact, more than anything, I found myself cheering for Djali the goat!That said, Hugo's detailed descriptions of his beloved city, the weird Fellini-esque Court of Miracles, and the cynical, verbose, always self-preserving Gringoire the starving poet, make this book worth reading.

Dustin

What am I, completely dense?? I can't believe that I literally just realized that Victor Hugo also wrote Les Misérables..

Amy

When I was in middle school, I'd watched and enjoyed the Disney animated version of the story, totally oblivious to how absolutely horribly Disney had "cleaned it up" for the children. Then one day, on the word of the day mailing list I'm subscribed to, one of the words had an example on its use pulled from the book. Just that one except was enough to totally floor me, I knew Disney really frelled with things, but I never remembered it being so extreme before. I had for some reason assumed the movie was more accurate than others because it was actually kinda dark for a Disney animation.This revelation in hand, I went and found myself an unabridged copy of the book to read. I had assumed that since Disney chopped it up so horribly and changed things so drastically, I couldn't trust anyone to edit the story down, and didn't know what I was getting in for. From the start, I was noticing tons of things that Disney either edited out all together or drastically changed. I do think that if I give it another read, I will consider picking up an abridged copy, just because all the detailed descriptions of Paris and its architecture was just a little bit more than I could happily handle. Between slogging through that, the actual storyline was good.The characters were interesting, it was easy to get frustrated with the ones you like because of the stupid mistakes they make, it's also easy to cheer with them if they manage something good. The book is dark, the ending sad, but I still highly recommend it. Don't be ashamed to grab the abridged version if you don't think you can handle chapters of nothing but geography and architecture in the city of Paris though, it was the only thing I regretted about reading the book.

Sanabel Atya

لقد صدق من صنفها مع روائع الأدب العالمي....واحدة من الروايات التي تعلق أدق تفاصيلها في الذاكرة،طويلاً وربما دائماً.تعليقي العام// ما هذه العدالة التي لا يهمها تفاصيل القضية،لا يهمها مُتهم أو ضحية..بقدر ما يهمها كبش الفداء أو ذاك القُربان الذي سيُقدم للمشنقة؟! سُحقاً لها من عدالة... إنها حقاً عصور الظلام، كيف كانت أوروبا وكيف أصبحت!! ولكني أرى أن العدالة لا زالت منقوصة ولو بمقدار أنملة!وصدق فيكتور حينما قال في سطور الرواية: " وباء إرهاب المشنقة،أخطر الأوبئة لأنه لا يأتي من الله بل من الإنسان!"لطالما كان الله عادلاً عادلاً عادلاً..وكان الإنسان ظلوماً جهولاً.لفت نظري أيضاً،تلك المناطق التي كانت للحماية في تلك العصور، لحماية الناس من التشريعات البربرية،، هذا ما كان سُكان العصور الوسطى محظوظون به،،فاليوم مثلاً..لا كنيسة ولا مسجد ولاأي مكان على وجه الأرض كفيل بحماية المظلوم من التشريع البربري ضده!كما وقد أثعجبت بالتاريخ الذي احتوته الرواية...سواء فيما يتعلق بذكر الأحداث العامة -الغريبة العجيبة- في العصور الوسطى،إلى فن العمار في تلك العصور، إلى وصف جميل رائع لأحياء من مدينة باريس،وإني لمن المُعجبين جداً بوصف المُدن!لا يكون البناء كاملاً في القرون الوسطى،ما لم يكن تحت الأرض مثيل له.لهذا كان للقصر والحصن والكنيسة آنذاكجذر مضاعف،ما لم تكن هذه الأبنية مبنية فوق مجموعة من الركائز ككنيسة نوتردام.لقد كان تحت الكاتدرائيات،كاتدرائيات أخرى،منخفضة،مظلمة،عمياء،خرساء،وقد تكون في الكاتدرائية السفلى مقبرة،بينما تكون الكاتدرائية العليا مفعمة بالضياء،تتموج فيها أصداء الأجراس في اليل والنهار.أما في القصور والحصون،فتكون الطبقة السفلى محابس وسجوناً،وقد تكون مقابر،أو تكون الاثنتين معاً.وهكذا يتبين لنا أن الأبنية التي تحدثنا عنها في غير هذا الفصل،ليست ذات أسس،بل ذات جذور، تنطلق متفرعة في الأعماق، غرفاً وردهات، وسلالم،كما هو الجزء الأعلى تماماً،بحيث يصبح جسد القصور والحصون والكنائس مغروساً في الأرض حتى وسطه.فتتشابه مع الأكوام الخارجية للبناء العظيم،كأنها الغابات والجبال التي تنعكس خيالاتها في مياه بحيرة قائمة تحت هذه الجبال والغابات"أما قصة الحبّ أو قصص الحبّ في الرواية،فقد كانت راقية جداً... وكما يقولون: رضىَ المُتيمُ في الهوى بجنونه...خلّوه يُفنى عُمرهُ بفنونه !ومن الحبّ ما قتل..وما هَبَل أيضاً !!

Tempo de Ler

Rico, poético, magnífico - assombrosamente soberbo - «Nossa Senhora de Paris» é uma obra absolutamente inesquecível. Com uma prosa magnífica, apurada ao extremo e manobrada com hábil controlo, Victor Hugo abre caminho por entre as histórias de Frollo, Esmeralda, Febo e Gringoire, todas convergindo para um trágico e inevitável final. A forma melodiosa e elegante com que o faz, adicionando inúmeras referências históricas, artísticas e literárias, faz valer a leitura só por si.Embora demorado, espesso e com divagações frequentes, mostrando uma extrema preocupação com a arquitectura, nomeadamente a perda de identidade dos monumentos, pintando as solenes linhas dos mesmos, o estilo de escrita de Hugo é irrepreensível. O autor mostra-nos de forma bastante cruel as lacunas e as virtudes do amor, as suas idiossincrasias, os seus caprichos. Se por um lado temos o amor doentio, obsessivo, egoísta e possessivo de Frollo, por outro lado, o lado de Quasímodo, temos o amor altruísta, caridoso e compreensível.Também a ilusão das aparências desempenha um importante papel nesta história; Febo, tão bonito por fora e tão oco por dentro, ao passo que o horrendo Quasímodo teria tanto para oferecer se lhe fosse dada essa oportunidade. Encontramos ainda uma boa dose de crítica nesta obra, mas eu prefiro pessoalmente o lado romântico e trágico de «Nossa Senhora de Paris», e fico-me por aí. Qualquer que seja o tipo de amor com que nos deparemos - doentiamente possessivo como o de Frollo, ingenuamente incondicional como o de Esmeralda ou puro e docemente eterno como o de Quasímodo - «Nossa Senhora de Paris» mostra-nos que compete a todos eles uma boa dose de loucura.

Emily Polson

*Sob*It's just too beautiful for words.

Martin

This has been on my 'to-read' list ever since I read "Les Miserables" 23 years ago. So glad I finally got around to it, but also glad I waited until I was well into adulthood so I could appreciate Hugo's lengthy descriptions of medieval Paris and his love of Gothic architecture. Living in a city (Los Angeles/Hollywood) where there has been massive building projects and urban reorganization in the last decade, I fully appreciate Hugo's lamentation about what has been lost through growth and disregard. Had I read this as a teen, I would have skipped past such chapters in order to focus strictly on the plot. However, these now thrill me as I recognize the artistry of a writer masterly describing a subject he loves (like Melville and whaling or Jeanette Winterson and the late-Industrial northern England). What to say about the plot and the characters? Phoebus and Gringoire are not as charming here as they tend to be in the film versions, but Claude Frollo is not quite as evil. He is terribly flawed and misguided, but he has had humanity in the past and nearly regains it in the end. Esmeralda is lacking, unfortunately, not quite as strong as I was accustomed to seeing in the movies. However, the plot's conclusion is incredibly disturbing and sad. I wish that Esmeralda had not been so blind (or deaf, since that is a recurring theme) to the fact that Phoebus is not a great guy. For me, it undercut her portrayal as acting with true Christian kindness and forgiveness (despite being the only non-Christian) that she continued to worship Phoebus and stayed wary of Quasimodo.I would have preferred the story to be more focused in the final third of the novel. Just as the plot is kicking into high gear, we have a long digression with Louis XI which I found frustrating. Because of this I almost gave the book 4 stars, but when I took into consideration that Hugo took me to another world which was also seen through the prism of the Catholic Reformation, the French Revolution and the July Revolution (and that I understood whichever axe he had to grind, despite the book being 183 years old), I had to give it 5 stars. I also appreciated Hugo's assertion that although most of the characters are orphans in some way, there are other forms of makeshift kinship that bond them. And I love how Quasimodo and Esmeralda end up inventing the world's first rape whistle.

Ali Sallam

من روائع الأدب الفرنسيتأخذك بشكل ساحر إلى باريس في العصور الوسطىفتحبس أنفاسك بين دوامة من مشاعر الخيانة والحب والأملبين كوازيمودو : قارع أجراس كاتدرائية نوتردام القبيحوكلود فرولو ؛ رئيس الشماسه المعذبوازميرالدا ؛ الراقصة الغجرية الفاتنةوالقائد فيبس ؛ الذي يخدع ازميرالدا ويوهمها بحبه لهامن روائع القصص العالمية

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 for the writing itself (lovely), but docked a point because it leaves me discouraged with everyone.

Wally

I suffered through Victor Hugo's Les Miserables in high school French, but I thought I'd take this on the airplane on my way to Paris, and I wasn't disappointed at all. The plot begins by following a somewhat minor character (who keeps popping up at crucial points and becomes something more major to the plot and theme), a poet who writes a morality play, fails utterly to perform it and get paid for it, and falls in with a crowd to thieves and vagabonds. On his descent, he encounters the innocent and beautiful Esmeralda (with her pet goat, who is even more enchanting), the pitiful and powerful Quasimodo, the shining knight Phoebus, and the conflicted archdeacon Claude Frollo: all the major characters. His story entwines with theirs as we learn their histories, their desires, and their deepening involvement with each other that can only end in tragedy. I loved how slowly the book built up the plot, revolving through each character and the occasional tangent into say, the history of medieval Paris, or a description of Notre Dame, before really taking off. The pacing is incredible: the first 300 pages are sort of set-up, and then the plot moves as the characters really encounter and react to each other, which is another 300 pages. The characters are completely indivduated, whether it's one of the main ones we see every other chapter, or a minor one, like the poet, or King Louis XI, or Frollo's younger brother, a gambler who steals church money to pay for his free-wheeling ways. The setting of medieval Paris (Hugo delayed writing the novel several times to continue his research) is so well described you might want a map to follow along when he describes a certain area of town that no longer exists (and didn't exist in 1830 when Hugo was writing).In short, a great book, highly recommended for people who like long books and have a certain kind of patience for the way novels were once written.

David

Talk about being seduced by a classic. I was really not enjoying this book at first, but slowly it grew on me. Notre-Dame de Paris, or "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" only becomes exciting in the last third of the book or so, but the first few hundred pages are a long, slow build-up that demands your patience and attention, and gradually you will realize what a masterful writer Victor Hugo was. The main character is not Quasimodo, nor is it Esmeralda, the beautiful gypsy dancer: it is the cathedral of Notre-Dame, which at the time Hugo wrote this novel was considered something of a medieval eyesore by the citizens of Paris. Hugo's book is part grand historical epic in the tradition of Sir Walter Scott, whom he admired, and part plea to his contemporaries to preserve the great architectural masterpieces of Paris.But you don't need that background to be sucked into the story. We are given a relatively modest cast of characters (there are probably a few dozen named characters, but less than a dozen have really important roles) and a few main plot threads which Hugo skillfully couples together. At the heart of the story is a priest, Dom Claude Frollo, whose passion is ignited when he first sees Esmeralda, a gypsy dancer, and he becomes so obsessed with her that he sends his minion, Quasimodo, a deaf and deformed hunchback whom he took in as a foundling, to abduct her. Quasimodo is foiled by Captain Phoebus of the King's Guard, who thus becomes a shining knight in Esmeralda's eyes. She is so taken with the handsome, dashing captain that even though he betrays and neglects her again and again throughout the novel, she remains hopelessly smitten with him to the end.Esmeralda is by turns kind and sweet and shallow and foolish; unlike some of the film versions, she's actually a young maiden of sixteen in the book. Quasimodo is hated and feared by the citizenry, which has turned him into a bitter misanthrope himself, but Esmeralda's kindness seduces him, too. However, this is no Beauty and the Beast. The entire novel is a story of misplaced and mixed loyalties, betrayals, ironies, and fatal misunderstandings. Besides commenting on history and architecture, Hugo also makes some sharp points about human cruelty and injustice, barbaric punishments, and the death penalty. He uses a surprising amount of humor, especially in the character of Pierre Gringoire, the poet-turned-Truand and Esmeralda's erstwhile husband of the broken crock. Captain Phoebus is also something of a comic figure, though I disliked him so much I never found him very funny, but the most comical figure of all is Louis XI, a king for whom Hugo paints a most unflattering portrait, even though he only appears personally in one chapter to set in motion the fatal events of the climax.I can't do this book justice in such a short review, but suffice it to say that I loved it, and that it is well worth wading through Hugo's occasional long expository passages (entire chapters about medieval architecture and long dialogs about taxes and speeches that go on for pages!) and seemingly unconnected subplots that go off on tangents. It all fits together in the end and is a great reward for the patient reader, who will be swept away by this powerful, passionate, sometimes grotesque and tragic novel. This was one of my biggest surprises of the year in my recent resolution to read more classics: I think The Hunchback of Notre-Dame has become one of my favorites. I didn't expect to love it like I love some British literature, but Victor Hugo is now rivaling Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Anthony Trollope for my literary affections.A long, slow read but easily a 5-star one. Do not settle for a movie version - they all suck compared to the book.

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