Disappointment right here. I thought that I would fill one of the many holes in my classic lit reading library and should have sought happiness in my ignorance.
Classic? It felt like young adult fiction to me. I wanted "Frankenstein" and ended up with "Goosebumps". That's not a good thing. I don't regret the $.50 that I spent at the book fair...it has more to do with the investment of my time.
"Every civilization begins in theocracy and ends in democracy."
Although this is the title used for the many film adaptations, the actual title is "Notre-Dame of Paris" and Quasimodo is one of many characters. If you know the films, the book is quite different: deeper, more complex, and ultimately darker. Hugo, who also wrote "Les Miserables," is a capacious creative artist, whose style embraces as much is can and the books is brimming with architecture, philosophy, history, theology, and allusions. But it's also a sweeping, exciting, and moving story and its themes of oppression, injustice, and the plight of outcasts still resonate today. If you've only seen the film adaptations, you really should pick this up. Make it a double feature with "The Phantom of the Opera."
I read the shortened version in French, nothing at all like the movie, excited to read. Must read.
Talk about depressing. I'm tempted to check out Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame to see how on earth they managed to take such a dreary book and turn it into a kid's movie.
As I read “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, I had the feeling that Hugo was ahead of his time in the characters he chose to bring to life and in the manner in which he depicted society of late 15th century France. But the story is not solely about the characters; it is also about the place. There are chapters that focus exclusively on the history and architecture of Paris. To the modern reader who is accustomed to a more balanced narrative (that includes dialogue, action, etc), these passages may seem a bit static and thus difficult to tackle. Forge on and in the end you will be rewarded with a pretty good read. (Review based on older edition)
Very surprised by this one, it completely blew me away. I felt I had a real grasp of this story being a big fan of the old movies (silent and 30s one). Hey, I even love the Disney musical. But I never anticipated the original novel to be sooo poignant, sooo heartbreaking, and sooo tragic. I didn't think it would be so drastically different from the old films, and immediately after reading I felt really surprised as to why that was. It's one of the most powerful stories I have ever read and I can't recommend it enough. Hopefully an accurate film will be made soon because it definitely deserves a correct depiction (maybe there's a french version somewhere?)
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.
It's difficult to even think of a review for this novel, because I still feel fatigued from reading it...It took months, on and off, for me (I'm fifteen) to finish the book, something I was inspired to do because of the musical of the same name. I don't know if I would recommend the book for other people my age, just because it's extemely complicated and takes a lot of time to finish. However, all of what I just wrote, being tired of it and all, doesn't mean that I didn't like it. It's an extraordinary novel, with a fantastic, if a bit depressing, story. When Victor Hugo writes conversations, and descriptions of characters, the book is at its strongest. The parts that are more complicated to read are the descriptions of other things, such as Paris. I came to a point when I started calling them "Victor's rants". All in all though, if you like a challenge, this is one of the best books to read. Next, Les Miserables...
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