The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

by Victor Hugo

Hardcover

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Overview

Outcast by society because of his hideous appearance, Quasimodo lives under the protection of Claude Frollo and the cathedral of Notre-Dame. His world revolves around the bells, but once the beautiful gypsy girl, La Esmeralda, enters their lives, things can never return to the way they were before.

An epic tale of beauty and sadness, The Hunchback of Notre Dame portrays the sufferings of humanity with compassion and power.

The book is translated by Isabel Florence Hapgood, a major U.S. translator of French and Russian literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780760703373
Publisher: Sterling Publishing
Publication date: 09/02/1996
Pages: 416

About the Author

Victor Hugo (1802-1885), novelist, poet, and dramatist, is one of the most important of French Romantic writers. Among his best-known works are The Hunchback of Notre Dame(1831) and Les Miserables(1862).

Date of Birth:

February 26, 1802

Date of Death:

May 22, 1885

Place of Birth:

Besançon, France

Place of Death:

Paris, France

Education:

Pension Cordier, Paris, 1815-18

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER I

The Great Hall of the Palace of Justice 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 early 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 Hôtel de Bourbon with “very elaborate morality plays, mummery, and farce,” while pouring rain drenched the magnificent tapestry at his door.

On the sixth of January, what moved the entire population of Paris was the double solemnity, as Jehan de Troyes describes it, united from time immemorial, of the Epiphany and the Festival of Fools.On that day there were to be fireworks on the Place de Grève, a may tree planted at the chapel of Braque, and a play performed at the Palace of Justice. Proclamation had been made to this effect on the preceding day, to the sound of trumpets in the public squares, by the Provost’s officers in fair coats of purple camlet, with large white crosses on the breast.

That morning, therefore, all the houses and shops remained shut, and crowds of citizens of both sexes could be seen wending their way toward one of the three places mentioned above. Each person had made a choice, for fireworks, may tree, or play. It must be observed, however, to the credit of the taste of Parisian riffraff, that the greater part of the crowd was proceeding toward the fireworks, which were quite appropriate to the season, or the play, which was to be represented in the great hall of the palace, which was well covered and protected, and that the curious agreed to let the poor leafless may tree shiver all alone beneath a January sky in the cemetery of the chapel of Braque.

All the avenues leading to the Palace of Justice were particularly crowded, because it was known that the Flemish ambassadors, who had arrived two days before, planned to attend the performance of the play, and the election of the Pope of Fools, which was also to take place in the great hall.

On that day, it was no easy matter to get into this great hall, though it was then reputed to be the largest covered space in the world. (It is true that Sauval had not yet measured the great hall of the Château of Montargis.) To the spectators at the windows, the palace yard crowded with people looked like a sea, into which five or six streets, like the mouths of so many rivers, disgorged their living streams. The waves of this sea, incessantly swelled by new arrivals, broke against the corners of the houses, projecting here and there like promontories into the irregular basin on the square. In the center of the lofty Gothic facade of the palace, the crowds moved relentlessly up and down the grand staircase in a double current interrupted by the central landing, and they poured incessantly into the square like a cascade into a lake. The cries, the laughter, and the trampling of thousands of feet produced a great din and clamor. From time to time this clamor and noise were redoubled; the current that propelled the crowd toward the grand staircase turned back, grew agitated, and whirled around. Sometimes it was a push made by an archer, or the horse of one of the Provost’s sergeants kicking and plunging to restore order—an admirable tradition, which the Provosty bequeathed to the constablery, the constablery to the maréchaussée, and the maréchaussée to the present gendarmerie of Paris.

At doors, windows, garret windows, on the rooftops of the houses, swarmed thousands of calm and honest bourgeois faces gazing at the palace and at the crowd, and desiring nothing more; for most of the good people of Paris are quite content with the sight of the spectators; a blank wall, behind which something or other is going forward, is to us an object of great curiosity.

If we could, mortals living in this year of 1830, imagine ourselves mixed up with those fifteenth-century Parisians, and if we could enter with them, shoved, elbowed, hustled, that immense hall of the palace so tightly packed, on the sixth of January, 1482, the sight would not be lacking in interest or in charm; and all that we should see around us would be so ancient as to appear absolutely new. If the reader pleases, we will endeavor to retrace in imagination the impressions that one would have experienced with us on crossing the threshold of the great hall, in the midst of this motley crowd, coated, gowned, or clothed in the paraphernalia of office.

In the first place, how one’s ears are stunned by the noise! How one’s eyes are dazzled! Overhead is a double roof of pointed arches, with carved wainscoting, painted sky blue, and studded with golden fleurs-de-lis; underfoot, a pavement of alternate squares of black and white marble. A few paces from us stands an enormous pillar, then another, and another; in all, seven pillars, intersecting the hall longitudinally, and supporting the thrust of the double-vaulted roof. Around the first four pillars are shops, glittering with glass and jewelery; and around the other three, oak benches worn and polished by the hosiery of the plaintiffs and the gowns of the attorneys. Along the lofty walls, between the doors, between the windows, between the pillars, is ranged the interminable series of all the kings of France ever since Pharamond: the indolent kings with pendant arms and downcast eyes; the valiant and warlike kings with heads and hands boldly raised toward heaven. The tall, pointed ogival windows are glazed with panes of a thousand hues; for exits there are rich doors, finely carved. The whole thing—ceiling, pillars, walls, wainscot, doors, statues—is covered from top to bottom with beautiful blue and gold paint, which was already somewhat faded at the time we are looking at it. It was almost entirely buried in dust and cobwebs in the year of grace 1549, when du Breul still admired it by tradition.

Now imagine that immense oblong hall, illuminated by the pale light of a January day, invaded by a motley and noisy crowd, pouring in along the walls and circling the pillars, and you will have a faint idea of the general whole of the picture, the curious details of which we shall endeavor to sketch in more precisely.

It is certain that if Ravaillac had not assassinated Henry IV there would have been no documents of his trial deposited in the Rolls Office of the Palace of Justice, and no accomplices interested in the destruction of those documents; consequently no obligatory fire, for lack of better means, to burn the Rolls Office in order to burn the documents, and to burn the Palace of Justice in order to burn the Rolls Office; therefore, there would have been no fire in 1618. The old palace would still be standing with its old great hall; and I might then say to the reader, “Go, look at it,” and thus we should both be spared trouble, myself the trouble of writing, and the reader that of perusing, a banal description. This demonstrates the novel truth—that great events have incalculable consequences.

It is, indeed, possible that Ravaillac had no accomplices and that even if he did, these accomplices had no hand in the fire of 1618. There are two other plausible explanations: first, the great “star of fire, a foot broad, and a foot and a half high,” which fell, as everybody knows, from the sky onto the Palace on the seventh of March, after midnight; second, this stanza of Théophile.

Certes, ce fut un triste jeu,
Quand à Paris dame Justice,
Pour avoir mangé trop d’épice,
Se mit tout le palais en feu.


Whatever one may think of this threefold explanation, political, physical, and lyrical, of the burning of the Palace of Justice in 1618, the fact of which we may unfortunately be certain is that there was a fire. Owing to this catastrophe, and, above all, to the successive restorations that have swept away what it spared, very little is now left of this elder Palace of the Louvre, already so ancient in the time of Philip the Fair that one had to search there for the traces of the magnificent buildings erected by King Robert and described by Hegaldus. Almost everything has vanished. What has become of the Chancery Chamber, where Saint Louis consummated his marriage? The garden where, reclining on carpets with Joinville, he administered justice, dressed in a camlet coat, an overcoat of sleeveless woolsey and, over all of this, a mantle of black serge? Where is the chamber of the Emperor Sigismond? That of Charles IV? Or that of Jean sans Terre? Where is the flight of steps from which Charles VI announced his edict of amnesty? The slab upon which Marcel murdered, in the presence of the Dauphin, Robert de Clermont and the Maréchal de Champagne? And the wicket where the Anti-Pope Benedict’s bulls were torn into pieces, and from which those who had brought them were seized, coped, and mitered in derision, and carried in procession through all Paris? And the great hall, with its gilding, its azure, its pointed arches, its statues, its pillars, its immense vaulted ceiling, broken up by and covered with carvings? And the gilded chamber? And the stone lion at the gate, kneeling, with head lowered and tail between his legs, like the lions of King Solomon’s throne, in the reverential attitude that befits strength in the presence of justice? And the beautiful doors? And the stained glass windows? And the wrought iron that discouraged Biscornette? And du Hancy’s delicate woodwork? What has time, what have men, wrought with these wonders? What has been given to us, in exchange for all this—for the history of the Gauls, for all this Gothic art? For the heavy, low arches of Monsieur de Brosse, for the clumsy architecture of the main entrance of Saint-Gervais? So much for art! And as for history, we have the voluble memory of great pillar, which still reverberates with the gossip of the Patrus.

Copyright 2002 by Victor Hugo

Table of Contents

Festival of fools — Attack! — Cruelty and kindness — Esmeralda on trial — Rescue — In the cathedral — The bitter end.

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Hunchback of Notre Dame 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amazing book. It was rather boring in the beginning, but later on it really adds to the novel. The story was so vivid and heartbreaking once I started I couldn't put it down. It isn't a happy book, so be warned. But it is a masterpiece and will always be one of my favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so far the best book yet classic ive ever read. But when disney made this into a film. Of course thell be some minor changes but disney always has to do a happy ending. Spoiler alert!!!!! For example the lovely esmeralda gets to be hanged along with the archeadon who falls and quasimodo who apearently jusr died from a heartbreak that esmeralda has caused. But no disney has to make phoebus and esmeralda fall in love. Quasi finally is welcomed to the town and of course dom claude dies from falling. Still love the book ok w the movie
MissBoyer3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Contrary to popular opinion the novel Le Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo is not primarily about the deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo. Quasimodo's role is actually surprisingly small in the story, which makes you wonder why the English translater's chose "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" as the translation for the title. Actually, as the original French title would indicate, it is the cathedral itself that is the focus of the book. This is why in the unabridged editions of this book you will find numerous chapters that seemingly have nothing to do with the plot of the story. This is the books weakest point, and it may turn many people away from the book. Once you get into the plot, however, it is iimpossible to put the book down. The characters are intriguing: composer Pierre Gringoire, archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, once a paragon of virtue now tormented by his corrupt love for a gipsy girl, L'Esmerelda, the naive gipsy dancer, Phoebus, the selfish, egotistical captain of the guards, and of course Qausimodo, a deaf, deformed bellringer. The relationships between these characters are complex and dark but they make an unforgettable story. The story is never, from front to back, a happy one, so if you are looking for a book that makes you "feel good" this is not the one for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a good book to read, that is unafraid to deal with the darker side of reality, I highly recommend "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
Wanderlust_Lost on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. It\'s more about the conflict of old vs. new, of architecture vs. literature, than it is about man vs. man. It\'s beautifully written and deeply tragic. I loved it.
Dufflepuds on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good classic but somehow drifted off away from the real plot. I know that the descriptive language was suppose to make you imagine that you're in that place but somehow I find that less enjoyable.
RebeccaAnn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The infamous story of the disfigured bell ringer and his guardian, the priest, who both fall in love with a beautiful, young gypsy. When Quasimodo tries to save Esmerelda from the gallows, the story ends in tragedy. Disney immortalized these characters and their lives, but Disney got it wrong. There isn't just one bad guy and bunch of good people. Here, no one's innocent and no one gets a happy ending.The name of the book is a bit misleading, I think. Having seen the Disney movie, I figured the protagonist would be Quasimodo. As odd as it is, though, the book doesn't really have a protagonist. Hugo kind of flits you from character to character in what seems an almost random pattern, often leaving one character at a vital point of the story to go visit the King and his clerk as they discuss how much everything costs. It can be very odd at times and honestly, it wasn't really a style of writing I wholly enjoyed. But then again, I was well aware of Hugo's tendency to go off on tangents before I started the book so it didn't come as a shocker and for the most part, it didn't detract too much from the story.One thing I wasn't expecting going into the book, however, was an approximate 100 page discription of Paris about a third of the way into the book. Hugo's prose is delightful, but even so I had a hard time getting through this section. However, I could see the relevence before I'd even finished the book. Paris is described as a huge city, branching out from a central location with random buildings connected to other random buildings of little to no similarity. Hugo jumps from one building to another to another, and in the end, he sums the entire description up nice and tidy in about a page. This is the same relationship as the characters. All the characters, who seem to have no relation to the others for the most part, are all connected and each character affects the fate of the others. They all interlock, even though they don't see it themselves. It's very impressive when you sit back and view the grand scope of the story.All in all, I heartily enjoyed this book and will be purchasing it for myself at some point in the near future. I recommend reading it, but don't expect to walk away feeling happy. The end is tragic (and a few scenes - namely one particular death scene - are very disturbing), no one gets their perfect, Disney ending, and the gargoyles, sadly, do not sing and dance ;-)
sariebearie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Extremely underrated. Hugo's most famous work is without a doubt Les Mis but I can never figure out why. Hunchback is beautiful and tragic and lovely and heartbreaking. Richly detailed but not to the point of tedium. Dramatic characters but still beleivable. It's a kaleidoscope of emotion and fulfills everything you could want in a book. My all time favourite.
xvpatchvx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great! Fast paced and terrific! See and then watch the movie for a different interpretation!
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Notre-Dame de Paris¿, the actual title of this book, is from Hugo¿s early phase; it was published in 1831 when he was only 29. Quasimodo the hunchback, La Esmeralda the gypsy dancer, and Claude Frollo the archdeacon are all unforgettable. Bear with it in the beginning, as Hugo takes his time setting the stage of Paris in 1482. Less philosophical and learned than his later works, but enjoyable nonetheless.Just one quote, on love:¿That little brother, without father or mother, that infant which dropped all at once from the sky into his arms, made a new man of him. He perceived that there was something in the world besides the speculations of the Sorbonne and the verses of Homer; that human beings have need of affections; that life without love is but a dry wheel, creaking and grating as it revolves.¿
johnthefireman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautiful and tragic book.
loralu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yet another great read by victor hugo. So much underlying meaning that still transforms to today alongside a great story on the surface. The struggles of inner vs outer beauty and acceptance will always be relatable, no matter the generation.
aikon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like the fiction but I don't like the story because it was sad and I couldn't understand the mind.However, I want the person who I can love as Quasimodo.
SaraPrindiville on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some parts were tough to get through, especially the chapter called "Bird's Eye View of Paris". Good, compelling story. How it was made into a Disney movie is beyond me though. It's about "forbidden love" of a priest for a 15 year old girl who he kills for. The emotions of the characters could have been pursued farther, but a good story.
Ricky21 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I reallly liked this book, despite the fact that the ending was so sad, and completley not what I expected or wanted to happen. I loved the Disney version of it, but I knew that the book would not end like the movie. The writing was well written, and the story pulled me in. I liked Quasimodo. He was made to be a repulsive creature that no one could love, but he was kind of endearing. He just wanted to love and be loved by someone. Esmeralda was kind and beautiful, but kind of stupid. All she could think about was Pheobus, who didn't even love her back. Pheobus was a ladies man, and basically didn't care about anything. All in all, the book was very good. I just didn't like the ending. The only good thing was Pierre saved Djali
deebee1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A hunchback, a gypsy, a mad priest. A church and a scaffold. Paris is not exactly the city of lights. Peopled by colourful characters, depraved creatures, hopeless beings, the architecture of the city, however, is a sight to behold. And the church of Notre Dame is the most magnificent of all.I enjoyed very much Hugo's writing, including the digressions on the evolution of architecture as a form of ¿writing¿ and immortality, as well as the portrayal of the center of the city, street by street. I didn't enjoy the story very much, though ¿ it was carrying martyrdom too far. The priest was vile, the soldier petty, and Esmeralda not just cloying but downright foolish, too. Quasimodo, however, made up for all that ¿ pity he didn't live a happier life. Though it doesn't hold a candle to Les Mis, I'm still glad to have read this, as I greatly admire Hugo's ability to paint images with words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My niece is reading the classics again, and wanted to read this. Had to buy The Hutchback of Notre-Dame so that she could read it again and again. That is how we enjoy the classics. A must read for teens as well as adults.
Tryion on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very detailed and hard to get through at times. Great ending!
Crewman_Number_6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could this book be anymore slow and boring? I think it took about 4 chapter just for him to walk down the street. Maybe I am just a victim of the modern literary style, but I like the author to get to the point. If I wanted to know every last detail of Paris, I would read a history book.
Irisheyz77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hugo is too long-winded and overly detailed. I was majorly bored with his heavy detail on a building or a road...so many details that they often detracted from the story.
daizylee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my all-time favorites. Sadly underrated and overlooked. I think it's Hugo's best, most full work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am literally still wiping the tears from my eyes after reading this book. My review will not do it justice. So many thoughts....in summary I don't think the theme is so much about FATE, but rather an expose on the ridiculousness of humanity and what I would describe as a 'comedy of errors'. I laughed, I cried, I groaned and hung on every word, finishing the entire text in 2 days!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the disney movie, youd think Quasimodo woukd sound.. more deformed. Instead he sounds like a perfect person. Like if you heard his voice but you couldnt see him, youd picture a normal person but when you saw him you'd be all,"Wwho is he! He's ugly." I like the "Hellfire"song from the movie. Frollo sounds like a total jerk and i wanna slam his face in the mud. Luckily he dies in the end. :) If you agree with anything in this post, speak out! - #DRAGONIA :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago