The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 27 Jun 1996
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This book contains the story of Quasimodo, the hunchback bellringer of Notre-Dame cathedral and his devotion to the beautiful gypsy dancer Esmeralda. When the demented archdeacon Frollo sets out to abduct Esmeralda, he uses Quasimodo to do the evil deed on his behalf. However, Quasimodo turns from captor to saviour.
About the Author
Victor Hugo was born in Besançon, France in 1802. In 1822 he published his first collection of poetry and in the same year, he married his childhood friend, Adèle Foucher. In 1831 he published his most famous youthful novel, Notre-Dame de Paris. A royalist and conservative as a young man, Hugo later became a committed social democrat and was exiled from France as a result of his political activities. In 1862, he wrote his longest and greatest novel, Les Misérables. After his death in 1885, his body lay in state under the Arc de Triomphe before being buried in the Panthéon.
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Hugo can be prolix. For what Dickens will say in a sentence, and Dostoevski in a paragraph, Hugo will employ a chapter, when the mood takes him. I hate the idea of abridgements and I would normally never recommend skipping or skimming any part of a great work, but Hugo is a possible exception. The thirty-odd pages devoted to A Bird's Eye View of Paris can be safely skipped over, unless you are a bird. Everything else is essential, or at least worthwhile. Neither does the author skimp on the use of coincidence, and the plot relies on one 'who-should-it-be-but' coincidence in particular which is so convenient and unlikely that most readers will groan when they realize what it is. The charitable interpretation is that the book is after all about Fate and its inevitability.
Despite those quibbles, the novel is a resounding 5-star must-read. It is astonishingly imaginative and includes scenes, especially those in the prison, and at the very end, that are as powerful, disturbing and memorable as anything in literature. I will say no more about them, because I hate spoilers even more than I do abridgements. Needless to say, if you think you know the story from movie versions, you don't.
If you are dull witted and have no patience, read something modern.
Sorry, that should have been 'if you want a book that gets straight to the point and has a "tighter" structure, you'd be better off reading something more modern'.
If you don't want a book that 'gets straight to the point' you should definitely read this novel. A good book definitely should not get straight to the point; characters and plots should ferment in their own time, allowing one to become completely immersed in the world created by the author. Thank God that Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Daniel Defoe, Balzac, and the myriad other authors who are unafraid of writing complicated works that challenge the reader did not come directly to the action; if they had, the world would be a homogenised, Dan Brown filled nightmare.
This story has an abundence of brilliant, three dimensional characters who you are interested in and will follow to the last page. It is not, however, for the faint hearted as it is certainly one of the most profoundly dark books I have ever read.
In short, don't be put off be long, seemingly never-ending sentances, plot twists and three dimensional chracters. After all, are they not what makes Literature a thing of beauty.
The main problem is the book's structure which fails to transport the reader. Admittedly there are some good scenes but three spandrel's do not make a rolo.
Death on Credit (Oneworld Classics)