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The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831)

by Victor Hugo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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13,497172415 (3.93)4 / 393
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Immerse yourself in one of the classic masterpieces of Western literature. Victor Hugo's sweeping epic The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a timeless tale of unrequited love that also touches on themes of jealousy, passion, purity, social justice, and moral goodness.

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English (151)  Italian (5)  French (5)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Slovak (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (171)
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
Not sure how they made a Disney movie of this book, seeing as how the entire thing is about sex. Good book, though. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
3.5* based upon my unabridged Kindle edition:
Hugo will never be one of my favorite authors because, while I can tolerate his lengthy digressions, I don't really like them. I found myself surprisingly angry by the end of the book; I guess my tolerance for men obessessed with a woman and making it all her fault has substantially diminished.

It is an excellent book and the characters are all well portrayed - I think it is because Claude Frollo was so believable that he made me so mad! ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 27, 2023 |
One doesn't review a classic of this stature, but given how well known the story is from other media, here are a few things I didn't expect in the real thing, if you accept the Modern Library anonymous translation as representative of the source material, and some things I did expect.

Unexpected: the emphasis on architecture and city planning. Chapters of it. Comparing Paris of the 1400s, 1600s, and 1800s. The pages spent describing Notre Dame itself is but a fraction of what's covered. For the most part, this is not adjacent to the story, as is the lengthy descriptions of whaling in Moby Dick, it's just something Hugo wanted to write essays about. To that extent, it's like reading a Neal Stephenson book, but, for me, of way less interest.

Unexpected: the many chapters of black humor. This is as much a comic novel as something like Catch-22, with a similar emphasis on the crazy but deadly logic of the system of culture and government. Virtually all chapters with Pierre, the poet-philosopher, are comic and he appears more often than Esmeralda or Quasimodo. Literally at the peak of the violence in the assault by the Vagabonds on Notre Dame, Hugo inserts a chapter with the king going over the budget, then taking a tour of his expensive new jail cell, where he and others comment on its solid construction and what it cost, while the occupants plead for mercy to no avail. Then, back to the action.

Unexpected: the centrality of the archdeacon who lusts for Esmeralda. Pretty much everything that happens is the result of his actions. Beyond the obvious bit with Esmeralda, he adopted and placed Quasimodo at Notre Dame, he raised Jehan, a younger brother whose actions enable certain events at important points, he mentored Pierre the poet, who "marries" Esmeralda, and engineers the afore-mentioned assault, and he (the archdeacon) carries out several key action that dooms Esmeralda.

Unexpected: how clearly Esmeralda dooms herself with her love for someone purely because he is handsome and wears a uniform, and how clearly that captain never had any thought but to bed her and leave her. Calling this a romance misses that the only expressions of love present are twisted ones.

Expected: florid writing and overwrought passions. I had hopes when early on, with the following exchange after Esmeralda has rescued Pierre by her marrying him for four years by Vagabond custom. When she makes it clear they will not be bedmates,

"Then you will not have me for your husband?"
The damsel looked at him intently for a moment, and replied "No".
"For your lover?" asked Gringoire.
She pouted her lip and again replied "No."
"For your friend?" continued Gringoire.
She again fixed her eyes steadfastly upon him. "Perhaps" she said after a moment's reflection.

Sadly, most other dialog is much more ornate, and full of swooning and impassioned pleas, etc. The opening chapters almost stopped me in their tracks with a very boring extended sequence involving the crowd attending a mystery (passion play of sorts) at Notre Dame. Eventually our primary characters emerge from a host of names but it's pretty confusing and slow going.

Bottomline: despite chapters that made me wish for an abridged edition, I'm glad I took the time to read this epic tale. ( )
1 vote ChrisRiesbeck | Aug 28, 2022 |
What a power masterpiece of literature The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is to the French culture. Victor Hugo does a good job drawing you into the story and giving you emotions to Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Claude Frollo, Phoebus de Châteaupers, Pierre Gringore, Paquette la Chantefleurie, et. al. Before reading this I suggest skimming (no skipping) the long chapters on the histories of Paris and the Notre-Dame de Paris only because they aren't key to the storytelling but important to know Hugo wrote the novel to promote the beauty of Gothic architecture. Also keep in mind this is NOT suitable for children unless supervised due to the part where Frollo attempts to rape Esmeralda. Overall, this is one of the best novels I've read in the historical, romantic, and Gothic genres. ( )
  Jazz1987 | Aug 27, 2022 |
We know The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is Victor Hugo's classic masterpiece for a reason, but it did take me a while to understand why. It starts slowly, with several treatises embedded in the text. Hugo is particularly inflamed by the failure to maintain the Medieval architectural structures of France. In this regard, the Cathedral is itself a major character in his novel.

As for the story, it is a romantic tale of love, abuse of power, political and religious corruption, the moral state of humanity, the injustice of justice, the futility of love, the inability of man to see beyond the surface and love for what is beneath, and the fleeting effects of beauty on life. The only character who truly loves is the misshapen Quasimodo, who loves Esmeralda more than self. Because he has been conditioned to think himself beyond being loved by anyone, he takes all of his affections and heaps them upon the object of his desires without any expectation of any return.

Frollo the Archdeacon is a malevolent character, but this is tempered by what we know about him prior to his falling for Esmerelda's charms. It is he who has saved Quasimodo when no one else would have even considered doing so, and he has raised and cared for his worthless brother past all duty and obligation. At the same time, he is the poster child for those who lament "if I can't have you, no one can." To the bitter end, I hoped that his better nature would win out, but even in the face of knowing his soul was at stake, he persisted in feeding his evil character.

By its conclusion, the story has become a tragedy of great proportions. I was reminded of the final lines of Romeo and Juliet in which the Prince laments "all are punished." Goodness does not win any quarter for Esmeralda, who dies piteously and the only kindness given her mother is that she expires before she can see her daughter hanged. Both Frollos get what is coming to them and Quasimodo suffers the fate he chooses in the absence of saving his love. Only Djali can be said to have a happy end, Gringoire will doubtless make him a fine master.

Had someone asked me if I knew this story, I would have said "yes". I would have been wrong. I had many misconceptions about both the plot and the themes Hugo addressed. It is apparent why this story has survived time and still has impact and meaning for a modern audience: Love is often still unrequited for the wrong reasons; we still fail to see the quality in someone who presents an ugly face and make too much of those who are only pleasing outwardly; there is still great political corruption that feeds the pockets of those at the top and cares nothing for the everyday man; mobs still whip themselves into fury and reap havoc upon the wrong objects; and injustice can be found in every community and every system.

( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
Au point de sembler plus vraie que la vraie. Bref, un roman-cathédrale.
added by Ariane65 | editLire (Mar 1, 2002)
In Notre-Dame de Paris Hugo’s dreams are magnified in outline, microscopic in detail. They are true but are made magical by the enlargement of pictorial close-up, not by grandiloquent fading. Compare the treatment of the theme of the love that survives death in this book, with the not dissimilar theme in Wuthering Heights. Catherine and Heathcliff are eternal as the wretched wind that whines at the northern casement. They are impalpable and bound in their eternal pursuit. A more terrible and more precise fate is given by Hugo to Quasimodo after death. The hunchback’s skeleton is found clasping the skeleton of the gypsy girl in the charnel house. We see it with our eyes. And his skeleton falls into dust when it is touched, in that marvellous last line of the novel. Where love is lost, it is lost even beyond the grave...

The black and white view is relieved by the courage of the priest’s feckless brother and the scepticism of Gringoire, the whole is made workable by poetic and pictorial instinct. It has often been pointed out that Hugo had the eye that sees for itself. Where Balzac described things out of descriptive gluttony, so that parts of his novels are an undiscriminating buyer’s catalogue; where Scott describes out of antiquarian zeal, Hugo brings things to life by implicating them with persons in the action in rapid ‘takes’. In this sense, Notre-Dame de Paris was the perfect film script. Every stone plays its part.
added by SnootyBaronet | editObserver, V.S. Pritchett

» Add other authors (248 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hugo, Victorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aken, Jan vanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alger, Abby LangdonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Antal, LászlóTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bair, LowellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beckwith, James CarrollTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blake, QuentinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bo, CarloIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boor, GerdiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
BrugueraEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cobb, Walter J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dixon, Arthur A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gohin, YvesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hapgood, Isabel F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keiler, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kool, Halbo C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krailsheimer, AlbanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
La Farge, PhyllisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lang, AndrewIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laverdel, MarcelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Liu, CatherineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lusignoli, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maurois, AndréAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oorthuizen, WillemTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Panattoni, SergioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seebacher, JacquesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spitzers, AttieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stedum, Gerda vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sturrock, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swinburne, A. C.Appreciationsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Terpstra, BasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verhagen, InekeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vincet, ArthurNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
וולק, ארזTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Exactly three hundred and forty-eight 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.
Endlich neigte sich der geschworene Buchhändler der Universität, Meister Andry Musnier, zum Ohre des Kürschners der Kleider des Königs mit den Worten:

"Ich sage euch, Herr, das Ende der Welt ist nahe. Man sah nie solche Ausgelassenheit der Studenten. Die verfluchten Erfindungen des Jahrhunderts richten alles zugrunde, die Kanonen, Serpentinen, Bombarden und vor allem die Buchdruckerkunst, diese andere Pest aus Deutschland. Keine Manuskripte! Keine Bücher! Der Druck tötet den Buchhandel! Das Ende der Welt ist nah."
Stets dachte ich, werde es von mir abhängen, den Prozeß zu verfolgen oder fallen zu lassen. Doch jeder böse Gedanke ist unerbittlich und bestrebt, zur Tatsache zu werden; und da, wo ich mich allmächtig glaube, ist das Verhängnis mächtiger als ich. Ach, ach, das Verhängnis ergriff dich, überlieferte dich den furchtbaren Rädern der Maschine, die ich im Dunkel baute. Jetzt bin ich dem Ende nahe. (Claude Frollo)
Die Liebe gleicht einem Baum; sie sproßt von selbst hervor, treibt tiefe Wurzeln in unser Sein und grünt oft noch auf einem gebrochenen Herzen.
Dom Claude begann aufs neue: "Ihr seid also glücklich?" - Gringoire erwiderte mit Feuer: "Auf Ehre, ja! Zuerst liebte ich Frauen, dann Tiere; jetzt liebe ich Steine. Sie sind ebenso unterhaltend wie Tiere und Frauen, aber nicht so treulos."
Der Priester legte die Hand auf die Stirn. Es war seine gewöhnliche Bewegung; dann sprach er: "Wahrhaftig, Ihr habt recht!"
Peter Gringoire war so glücklich, die Ziege zu retten, und erlangte auch einigen Beifall im Tragödien-Dichten. Nachdem er, wie es scheint, alle Torheiten gekostet hatte, die Astrologie, Alchimie, Philosophie und Architektur, kehrte er zur albernsten Torheit, der Tragödie zurück; das nannte er: Ein tragisches Ende nehmen.

Auch Phoebus von Chateaupers nahm ein tragisches Ende: Er verheiratete sich.
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This is the major work for The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. Please do not combine with abridgements, adaptations, etc.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Immerse yourself in one of the classic masterpieces of Western literature. Victor Hugo's sweeping epic The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a timeless tale of unrequited love that also touches on themes of jealousy, passion, purity, social justice, and moral goodness.


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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140443533, 0451531515

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102111, 1400109035

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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