Everything in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a fascinating juxtaposition of the grotesque and the sublime – the speech, the characters, the setting. IEverything in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a fascinating juxtaposition of the grotesque and the sublime – the speech, the characters, the setting. I felt like the whole point of the story was to show that architecture was the only good thing that came from the Middle Ages so for heaven’s sake, don’t tear those buildings down! We could never build something like that again! This book saved the Notre Dame Cathedral by giving people a reason to care about it and showing how Gothic architecture was beautiful even though it was different (which is a theme in the novel that applies to the characters as well). Victor Hugo likes lists that are very, very long full of even longer names and I found myself falling asleep a lot in the first half of the book. Then suddenly I get hit over the head by this steamy, passionate, action-packed, gruesomely violent second half of the novel complete with forbidden love. Didn’t see that coming. I found it surprisingly modern in that there are a lot elements in this story that are popular in novels, especially young adult ones, today. Though I can’t help but think that the girl would have been turned on by the whole forbidden/creepy love thing if it had been written today instead of her being horrified by it. And can I just say how shocked I was when he used the word “vampire” AND talked about Nicolas Flamel? There was some great sarcastic humor in here that had me smiling. This was Hugo’s first novel after writing plays and it reads like one. There are lots of action scenes and he writes an excellent mob. He almost makes me want to grab a pitchfork. I walked away from this book thinking about what beauty and love really are.
I was not expecting this classic novel about revenge to also be ironic, sarcastic, funny, witThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I was not expecting this classic novel about revenge to also be ironic, sarcastic, funny, witty, and based on a true story.The Count of Monte Cristo is about more than just revenge, especially in the unabridged edition that I read. As long as this story is, I really can't see how you would abridge it without losing something.
A few of my favorite funny moments were when this love sick guy talks about dying for love and the drunk guy responds, ‘There’s love, or I don’t know it (pg. 34).’ I also thought it was hilarious when Albert is trying to hook up in Italy and finds that Italian women are faithful in their infidelity and so not at all interested in him.
I'm pretty sure that this is the funniest line in the whole novel:
Do you think that, if I did, I would lead you to the answer inch by inch, like a dramatist or a novelist?
- Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (pg. 741).
There's nothing quite as funny as an author making fun of themselves.
The irony that shows up every now and then could be summed up in this one perfect line:
No one likes a free box as much as a millionaire.
- Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (p. 597)
Revenge shows up and not just from the Count. When I saw this line I just couldn't help hunting down a certain gif from the best movie ever.
“I am Giovanni Bertuccio! Your death is for my brother, your treasure for his widow: you can see that my revenge is more perfect than I could have hoped.”
- Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo p. 499
Every one talks about this plot being about revenge, but I found it interesting that the Count just kind of gives them a tiny, little nudge and they bring about their own destruction. I like the introduction's description of the Count as an early detective. All the Count really did was uncover the truth for justice to come about. Well, except for maybe the last revenge which was my favorite because it was very fitting and kind of funny.
Speaking of descriptions of the Count, I found the frequent comparison of him to a popular literary vampire hilarious. Vampires were popular in the 1820s. Who knew. I also found it interesting that there were numerous chapters and story lines where the Count of Monte Cristo was actually a side character. I don't know that I've ever seen that done before.
I found some of the themes and topics in this novel surprisingly modern. Chapter 31 was all about getting high. There's a lesbian character that says to heck with marrying who her father says and runs away instead. There's commentary on sexism and how men can be elevated by scandal and women ruined by the same scandal.
As modern as the themes were, I did have a few issues with predictability and writing that drove me nuts. It was obvious to me why a character got kidnapped which made it slightly tedious, but it was funny to see that characters reaction to it. I think every character went pale every other page. For shock, for illness, for fear, for kicks, for giggles etc. And it was stretching it a little too much when a man who can't move or speak could say "obey" with his eyes. This roll of my eyes means "give me a break."
Despite a few moments of bad writing (that could very well have been from the fact that this was a translation), I did enjoy the writing overall and it's many witty moments. The Count puts a pompous guy in his place with verbal sparring about noble titles that was perfect. And when the Count takes a tour of some apartments owned by another pompous idiot, he describes it as "characterized by tedious ostentation and expensive bad taste (pg 537)."
Overall, it was a great classic novel about much more than revenge with modern themes, humor, wit, and was enjoyable to read even unabridged.
Content warning: for a brief drug reference (hashish) and a scene describing his thoughts/feelings when high....more
I felt like William was a modern character in medieval times. Apparently, I wasn't the only one that thought that because he addresses it the post scrI felt like William was a modern character in medieval times. Apparently, I wasn't the only one that thought that because he addresses it the post script and says that the passages that most people find too "modern" are direct quotes from 14th century texts.
I thought the medieval attitude was well portrayed in this book. You could feel the attitude that the world is in decline and that the old days were better than they are now.
I like how he also mentions that there isn't a story that hasn't already been told. I've been studying Tolkien and he had this same attitude.