The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
- Rating: 9/10
- Genre: Gothic Literature
- Pages: around 300-500 (depending on the version)
- Topics: Tragedy, Romance, Outcasts, Christianity
- “The setting of this extraordinary historical novel is the medieval Paris: a city of vividly intermingled beauty and grotesquerie, surging with violent life under the twin towers of its greatest structure and supreme symbol, the catherdral of Notre-Dame. Against this background, Victor Hugo unfolds the haunting drama of Quasimodo, the hunchback; Esmeralda, the gypsy dancer; and Claude Frollo, the priest tortured by the specter of his own damnation. Shaped by a profound sense of tragic irony, it is a work that gives full play to the author’s brilliant historical imagination and his remarkable powers of description.”
R E V I E W:
Okay. First, I would like to state that I am not currently finished with this novel. I was very busy with my college work, and I couldn’t find enough time to finish reading 😦 However, I really really really wanted to do a review on this book for my November BOTM, because this story is perfect to read in fall/winter under warm blankets in front of the fireplace (#aesthetic). So my review will only be based on what I have read up to. So far, I have really enjoyed reading this book! Although I feel as if there is a lot of fluff and not enough plot (but that might change later when I read more lol). I was expecting to read more about Quasimodo, but so far there’s a lot more description and backstory about France and Dom Claude Frollo. The amount of description for one cathedral takes up about three to four pages, but it’s Victor Hugo so what do you expect? Now, I’m not saying that the fluff is irrelevant, because it’s honestly fascinating reading about how Victor Hugo describes each place in Paris. But like…..there is an entire book dedicated to describing France. If you dig descriptions and appreciate imagery, I highly encourage you to read any Victor Hugo novel, especially this one!
When a man understands the art of seeing, he can trace the spirit of an age and the features of a king even in the knocker on a door
Christianity also plays a ginormous role (this is obvious since Notre Dame is a cathedral). I’d say it’s one of the more important components that the reader has to keep in mind while reading Hunchback. For example, Claude Frollo is the archdeacon of Notre Dame, and much of the problems he creates stem from Christian beliefs. There’s also a romance aspect to this story as well…. but I haven’t really gotten into that much yet (but I’m really looking forward to it!), and knowing that this story is a tragedy…hmmm… I’m just going to leave it at that.
I have found that this novel is DEFINITELY not like the Disney adaptation, because the book is A LOT darker and realistic. Although, I have yet to learn the relevance of Pierre Gringoire… I literally have no clue why he’s in the story (either I’m really dumb and am missing something or his relevance comes later in the story). For most of the beginning, the narration follows Pierre, although it’s actually written in third person, perhaps even by a character in the story who is never introduced (which I find super cool). Up to where I have read (I’m on Book VI out of XI), there’s not much of Quasimodo, Esmeralda, or Phoebus, although I know they are going to appear later in the story. My overall verdict is that yes, this is definitely worth the read, even though it is lengthy. And although I am not finished with it and there are some confusing aspects that I don’t understand, I really am enjoying reading this book! Also, if you haven’t read at least one Victor Hugo novel in your life…then what are you doing?
P.S- The stage musical for this novel is absolutely flawless. The music is definitely worth listening to even if you aren’t into musicals!