Konain's Reviews > Notre-Dame of Paris

Notre-Dame of Paris by Victor Hugo
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Jan 09, 15

bookshelves: classic, drama

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo is a masterpiece in itself. Rising, by its masterful language and immense vocabulary, such poignancy and pathos as is rarely seen. Hugo has attempted to characterize only a few characters. Dom Claude, the monk; Quasimodo, the misshapen and hideous hunchback; and la Esmeralda, the pretty gypsy girl. It stands in marked contrast to Dickens, who invariably had a plethora of characters in his works. But, what Hugo does best and unique (as far as I understand) is to characterize the whole mass----the vagrants for example. Even some characters like Gringoire and Phoebus are described as representatives of whole communities.

And unlike Hardy, Hugo doesn’t describe the natural beauty, the landscape, the coming and going of seasons but equally powerful is his description of the architecture of the 15th century Europe. His description in this novel has centred on the Gothic Cathedral, Notre Dame and he has described it with such feeling and intensity that the picture of the massiveness and solidity of the cathedral is vividly picturised in the minds of the readers. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I doubt if any camera or brush would have done half the job of what Hugo did with his words. Quasimodo has been given the job of ringing the bell of the cathedral and who can forget the scene describing the bell and Quasimodo. How both of them are described as entwined and acting as if one.

Instead of a Prince Charming, Hugo has a hideously ugly and misshapen brute and yet how he has managed to make us love that devil! Quasimodo reflects the cathedral and the cathedral reflects him back. (view spoiler)

Even the goat of la Esmeralda does not seem out of place. It is used very effectively to bring out and strengthen the simplicity of la Esmeralda.

The novel is a bit heavy for the casual readers but for avid readers it is a must.
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