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2011 Group Reads - Archives > The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Book 1

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message 1: by Silver (new)

Silver We shall begin our discussion of The Hunchback of Notre Dame starting with Book One which consists of the chapters:

1. THE GRAND HALL.
2. PIERRE GRINGOIRE.
3. MONSIEUR THE CARDINAL.
4. MASTER JACQUES COPPENOLE.
5. QUASIMODO.
6. ESMERALDA.

Please remember not to give away in spoilers for anything that happens after Book 1.


message 2: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 11, 2011 10:58AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments One of the first things to be mentioned in HND is that The Feast of Fools is taking place in Paris and the streets are thronged with a 'rustic rabble'. This was the medieval equivalent of the Roman Saturnalia and took place early in the New Year. Apparently 'Parisians had a particularly infamous reputation. By the 15th century, an embarrassed Catholic Church finally clamped down on the "monstrous" celebrations in which, centuries later, Victor Hugo wrote of (view spoiler) the King of Fools in Hunchback of Notre Dame.'

http://www.newyorkcarver.com/feastoff...

The culmination of the ceremony in 1482, according to Hugo, was the election of the Pope of Fools, which was to take place in the gothic Grand Hall of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the largest covered enclosure in the world'; there is 'a buzzing in the ears, a dazzlement in the eyes. Above our heads is a double ogive vault, panelled with wood carving, painted azure, and sown with golden fleurs-de-lis; beneath our feet a pavement of black and white marble, alternating. A few paces distant, an enormous pillar, then another, then another; seven pillars in all, down the length of the hall, sustaining the spring of the arches of the double vault, in the centre of its width:-

http://0.tqn.com/d/cruises/1/0/E/R/3/...

'Let the reader picture to himself now, this immense, oblong hall, illuminated by the pallid light of a January day, invaded by a motley and noisy throng which drifts along the walls, and eddies round the seven pillars, and he will have a confused idea of the whole effect of the picture, whose curious details we shall make an effort to indicate with more precision.' (There is a nice virtual tour and 360o panorama in the Background thread.)

What a great beginning - we are there! Pushing and shoving with the crowd!


message 3: by Silver (last edited Jul 11, 2011 06:11PM) (new)

Silver I was a bit surprised by the Festival Of Fools that they were even allowed to have such a celebration particularly with the the focal point surrounding around the nomination of the "Bishop of Fools" which I would have thought would have been seen as blasphemous as such an outright mockery of the Church.

This is my first time reading Hunchback and well for that matter it is also my first Victor Hugo, one of the things which surprised me about this book was the humorous aspects of it (or at least what I perceive to be humours) as from what I do generally know about the story I had not expected that. But for me Gringoire is a very comic character. In some ways he himself feels like the real fool, the way in which he takes himself so seriously while it seems like everyone else is laughing at him and with the failing of his "grand" play which ended up being made a mockery of.

One of the things I was curious about and I do not know if it just the way my version translated the word, or if the word had a different implication and meaning at the time. But I wondered why was Gringoire's play was referred to as being a "mystery"


message 4: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Silver wrote: "One of the things I was curious about and I do not know if it just the way my version translated the word, or if the word had a different implication and meaning at the time. But I wondered why was Gringoire's play was referred to as being a "mystery" "

Mystery plays were popular in Medieval times. They took their stories from the Bible and usually had some kind of lesson or morality behind it.

But in this mystery play, the primary characters are Nobility, Clergy, Labor and Merchandise. From what I'm reading - and I'm still researching - they represent the players in the French Revolution. Hugo is using the past to comment on the present.


message 5: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments While I'm enjoying the book, it is a bit frustrating because I don't know French history that well. Obviously I know about the French Revolution, but not as well as I know American or even British history.


message 6: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) Silver wrote: "This is my first time reading Hunchback and well for that matter it is also my first Victor Hugo, one of the things which surprised me about this book was the humorous aspects of it..."

Without humor, Hugo wouldn't be Hugo, he would be Ugo. :) I've read a few of Hugo's novels, and almost all of them have great humor. It's probably true of all great literature for that matter.


message 7: by Silver (new)

Silver Nemo wrote: Without humor, Hugo wouldn't be Hugo, he would be Ugo. :) I've read a few of Hugo's novels, and almost all of them have great humor. It's probably true of all great literature for that matter.."

It is surprising to me how the humorous side of so many books seems to be so underestimated or not as valued as other aspects of the book. I am always surprised to find certain books to be quite comical in which no one ever seems to remark upon. Everyone seems to only focus on the more dramatic, serious, somber parts of a book.


message 8: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 12, 2011 01:08AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments "While I'm enjoying the book, it is a bit frustrating because I don't know French history that well. Obviously I know about the French Revolution, but not as well as I know American or even British..."

You will find a couple of summaries of French history, particularly the history of medieval Paris, in the Background thread Lynn.

But I wondered why was Gringoire's play was referred to as being a "mystery" "

The Mystery plays are a series of plays 'dealing with all the major events in the Christian calendar, from the Creation to the Day of Judgment'. They are 'mysteries' because they deal with 'a religious truth that is incomprehensible to reason and knowable only through divine revelation'.

Originally they were performed in churches and the clergy took prominent parts in them but they became so popular and somewhat scatalogical that in 1210 the Pope forbade the clergy from taking part in them. Theatrical guilds were then formed, vernacular texts replaced Latin, and non-Biblical passages were added along with comic scenes. I think the church permitted them because these 'holy days', like the Ephiphany, were days of celebration for the populace and watching morality plays helped to keep those celebrations within bounds and showed that the church had a lighter, more human, side.

They are still widely performed as street and pub entertainment in England, indeed I will be seeing some when I attend an International Folk Festival in August. In York they have been performed since the 14C and are now performed on a series of wagons which parade through the streets every four years. This one on the Crucifixion shows their scatalogical nature:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIImNn...

This one shows scenes from Noah's Deluge, performed by semi-professional actors within the grounds of a Yorkshire priory:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMAFgS...


message 9: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments BTW I read today that the title of HND is a misnomer, since the protagonist of the story is really the cathedral itself, as the original title (Notre Dame De Paris) suggests. Victor Hugo strongly protested against the English title, as it turns the focus from the cathedral onto the characters.


message 10: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments MadgeUK wrote: "BTW I read today that the title of HND is a misnomer, since the protagonist of the story is really the cathedral itself, as the original title (Notre Dame De Paris) suggests. Victor Hugo strongly p..."

Good point, Madge. While Qasimodo is an important character, the novel isn't "about" him. It's odd when you think that in translation Hugo's Les Miserables retained its original title. I'm guessing that the decision to change the title was made by the first English language version publisher with a view to sales figures. Maybe "Notre Dame of Paris" sounded a bit dull.


message 11: by Bea (new)

Bea | 13 comments I just finished Book 1 and am enjoying the read. It's my first Hugo and seems to flow beautifully. I am particularly enjoying his descriptions which bring everything to life. I agree with others about the humor. From seeing the Charles Laughton film version, I had thought this would be very heavy and tragic. On the contrary I am finding the book surprisingly light, though I expect it will become more tragic as we go along.


message 12: by Hedi (new)

Hedi | 950 comments MadgeUK wrote: ""While I'm enjoying the book, it is a bit frustrating because I don't know French history that well. Obviously I know about the French Revolution, but not as well as I know American or even Britis..."

I read that too, and interestingly this is not only the case with the English title, but also in German and Dutch, in which the title is literally translated "The ringer of Notre-Dame". In Spanish however, "Notre Dame de Paris" was translated literally to "Nuestra Senora de Paris".

It seems to me that Victor Hugo loved Paris very much, which shows in his detailed descriptions of the architecture and his comments about the changes being made to this wonderful city during his lifetime.

I was also wondering whether he wanted to point a little to the political situation of that time in his "mystery", as the King of France was supposed to marry Margaret of Flanders (which actually did not happen, they got engaged when she was 3 years (!!!) old in 1483, and she was brought up in the French Court, but the engagement was cancelled 10 years later). The Flemish were well-known tradesmen and merchants.


message 13: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Great points Heidi!


message 14: by Kim (last edited Jul 13, 2011 03:44PM) (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments Seeing as we are reading a French novel, I thought that I would take the opportunity to send you all Bastille Day greetings, although I appreciate that where many of you are it is still only the 13th.

Bonne fête du 14 juillet à tous!

In relation to my reading of Hunchback so far, I am interested in the voice of the narrator, which is used so differently to the way in which Bronte used it in Jane Eyre. Hugo appears to use his authorial voice partly in order to blur the line between fact and fiction - to give the impression that the novel is history, rather than just a work of the imagination.


message 15: by Silver (new)

Silver Kim wrote: In relation to my reading of Hunchback so far, I am interested in the voice of the narrator, which is used so differently to the way in which Bronte used it in Jane Eyre. Hugo appears to use his authorial voice partly in order to blur the line between fact and fiction - to give the impression that the novel is history, rather than just a work of the imagination. "

I was curious to know what people thought of the narrative voice of this story but I thought perhaps I should wait until people have read more of the book before discussing it. But if course if anyone does want to speak of it now as long as no spoilers are given to later in the book you are free to do so.

I myself find I have mixed feelings about it. I do think it is an interesting approach to the story but at times I find it can be a bit confusing, mostly because it is like juggling so many different time periods. As when the narrator speaks of "today" I have to remember that he is speaking of the 1800's.

Also at times it feels a bit intrusive. I will be going along just getting into the story and getting caught up within the actual story when he will break in and thus turn my attention away from the story and intruder my reading to remind me of his active presence and in way this does offer a buffer between the reader and a direct relation/connection to the story itself because he maintains the role of being your active guide into this period of history instead of letting you explore it upon your own.


message 16: by Diana (new)

Diana | 21 comments Silver wrote: "Kim wrote: In relation to my reading of Hunchback so far, I am interested in the voice of the narrator, which is used so differently to the way in which Bronte used it in Jane Eyre. Hugo appears to..."

I have the same problem with the narrative voice!


message 17: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes, it really is a case of having to 'suspend our disbelief' but perhaps not so different as JE telling us 'Dear Reader, I married him'?


message 18: by Silver (last edited Jul 13, 2011 11:46PM) (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "Yes, it really is a case of having to 'suspend our disbelief' but perhaps not so different as JE telling us 'Dear Reader, I married him'?"

I think one of the things which might make a difference is the issue of the different time periods factor. In JE of course she is speaking of her own present time and as in the statement above it is actually Jane Eyre speaking to the reader and not Charlotte Bronte.

While in the case of Hunchback the narrator draws the readers attention to the fact that he is writing of past events from a different period of time when he does make references to what Paris is like within his own time, and the differences between than and now, he bounces the reader back and forth between time periods which does make the reading less fluid.

Than reading it from our period of time it is further withdrawing from the story when we have to recall that the fact that the narrator truly is not addressing us today but he is address his contemporaries, for the changes of the city that he speaks of would be even greater for us since Paris as Hugo knew it no doubt equally no longer exists.


message 19: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes, it is all rather confusing. I wonder if his narrative style will change?


message 20: by Silver (new)

Silver I was hoping that after he did set the stage so to speak for the story the narrative voice might back off a bit and just let the story run its course as it were without so much direct interruptions.


message 21: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments I haven't finished reading Hunchback yet - and no spoilers - but the narrator's voice does continue to be present past Book 1. It's not necessarily intrusive (although that's a matter of taste and opinion, I guess), but it's still there. I think that it's very much part of the novel's style.


message 22: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 14, 2011 06:44AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments This blogger makes the point that in Les Miserables Hugo shows his own conceit and sense of self worth - his narration is like the man himself. Other points about his style of narration are also made and the comments are also applicable to HND, perhaps to all his work:-

http://thelectern.blogspot.com/2011/0...

I think Andreea might also say that it is part of the Romantic style she posted about in the Background thread.


message 23: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 14, 2011 07:47AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments La Esmerelda is first mentioned, somewhat mysteriously, in Chapter I:VI. I have put some images and information about her on the Background thread. The Romantics were intrigued by the idea of travelling gypsies (Romanis) and were both frightened and fascinated by them. They are descended from an ethnic group originally based in the Punjab region of India who migrated West between AD 500 and AD 1000 but people thought they were from Egypt so called them 'gypsies'. In Europe they have followed traditional trades like fruit picking and knife grinding and, of course, fairground workers and dancing, as famously portrayed in Bizet's opera Carmen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPVpDi...

Here are some pics of their lovely traditional wagons now sadly replaced by modern caravans!

http://gypsywaggons.co.uk/varhistory.htm

They have always been a very persecuted race and thousands were killed in Hitler's gas chambers. Hugo's novel reflects some of the prejudices medieval Parisians had against them, such as associating them with witchcraft:(.


message 24: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: Hugo's novel reflects some of the prejudices medieval Parisians had against them, such as associating them with witchcraft:(.

Giving Esmeralda a goat for a companion (familiar?) I think is quite symbolic of those negative associations and the stigma which surrounded gypsies, and reflective of the way others saw them. Being that goats (along with other horned animals)in many different cultures are old Pagan fertility icons and associated with various different Pagan deities, and because of that, the goat being commonly connected with Satan. As the most common popular image of Satan as being cloven hoofed and horned was structured after these old Pagan idols.

There is also the image of Baphomet which first began to pop up around the middle ages and though is not a true Pagan icon, had become associated with and symbolic of witchcraft. The image of Baphomet, who is depicted as a goat headed devil revived within the 19th century as symbolic of the occult and Satanism.

One of the most well known images of Baphomet was created by a French magician Elipahs Levi in the 19th century.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia...


message 25: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Thanks for that info Silver - very useful.


message 26: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I usually like the authorial voice because it means less dialogue between the characters. I much prefer descriptive prose to dialogue. So HND fits that bill for me.


message 27: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "I usually like the authorial voice because it means less dialogue between the characters. I much prefer descriptive prose to dialogue. So HND fits that bill for me."

I have to admit I am a bit the opposite. I am not usually a huge fan of very long descriptions. I prefer books in which it seems there is acutally something happening. My favorite chapters in this book are the ones that do deal with the actual characters.


message 28: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 16, 2011 12:51AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I love the descriptions of the crowd, their surroundings and of the Notre Dame, which is the main 'character':

'In the centre of the lofty Gothic façade of the palace, the grand staircase, incessantly ascended and descended by a double current, which, after parting on the intermediate landing-place, flowed in broad waves along its lateral slopes,- the grand staircase, I say, trickled incessantly into the place, like a cascade into a lake. The cries, the laughter, the trampling of those thousands of feet, produced a great noise and a great clamor. From time to time, this noise and clamor redoubled; the current which drove the crowd towards the grand staircase flowed backwards, became troubled, formed whirlpools.'

I am the reader '...[picturing] to himself now, this immense, oblong hall, illuminated by the pallid light of a January day, invaded by a motley and noisy throng which drifts along the walls, and eddies round the seven pillars....'


message 29: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Silver wrote: "I am not usually a huge fan of very long descriptions. "

It depends on the description. I find descriptions of landscape tiresome (unless it is a book that focuses on nature; i.e., Edward Abbey's novels), but I do enjoy historical background information. For example, I just finished A.S. Byatt's "The Children's Book," and she gives detailed information about the time period (late 1800s/early 1900s). I just loved it; all about the socialist movement, the Fabians, the artist movements of that time, WWI, etc. (From what I've read in readers reviews, it is, however, the part of the novel that annoys others the most about the book.)

What I really enjoy is dialogue - particularly witty dialogue (as with Dickens) - that reveals the true nature behind the character.


message 30: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments I've been fascinated with the mystery play, and the interactions between Labor, Clergy, Nobility, and Merchandise. Sadly, I haven't found much research on it (at least that I could read because most of it is in French, a language that I know but not fluently enough to read scholarly research).

Labor and Merchandise wed; Clergy and Nobility wed.

Labor and Clergy quarrel; Nobility and Merchandise quarrel.

It is the usual. Clergy, who are supposed to represent the people and in particular the poor, have long been criticized for their marriage to Nobility, the rich and those in power. A marriage that has been criticized from as far back as Chaucer. Clergy should support Labor - the working class - but instead, they quarrel.

Also, there have historically been tensions between the old rich (Nobility) and the new rich (Merchandise). Although obviously today, those designations are long gone; there is only the wealthy, who generally make their money through commerce.

But has there really ever been a marriage between Labor and Merchandise in the real world? To me, Labor tends to always stand alone.


message 31: by Lynnm (last edited Jul 16, 2011 07:08AM) (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments I also thought that the idea of "celebrity" and the masses was interesting. The masses tend to be shallow, enjoying the spectacle of the wealthy and powerful. Also, they are enthralled with the silly and ridiculous - usually people of their own class trying to get the spotlight - rather than what is important. (Some things never change; i.e., the focus on celebrity and reality shows today). I would have been amazingly bored in that audience. After the first couple of people making faces, I would have left. lol!

Since Hugo is commenting on the French Revolution in the novel, what is he saying about the masses? They aren't to be trusted? They don't have the intellect?


message 32: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 16, 2011 11:40AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments HND was written during the 3 day 1830 revolution, the 'war of the barricades', not the main 1789 one. Both Les Miserables and HND combine the ideas of the revolutions of 1830, 1832 and 1848 - Liberté, égalité, fraternité,

I don't think Hugo was critical of the masses. He was a democrat, a republican and a popular champion of the people. He had to flee into exile when he opposed the coup d'etat of Louis Napoleon, who was elected President of the Second Republic but took over power as King-Emperor Napoleon III. Hugo did not return until the Napoleon III was overthrown and the republic was re-established in 1871. In the 1848 revolution Hugo had attempted to form a resistance committee and tried to rally popular support in Paris for a new round of barricades. Because of his lifelong support for republican causes, he became a hero of the French people, was given a state funeral and entombed alongside Alexandre Dumas and Emile Zola in The Pantheon, Paris.

'Hugo's novels more so than his autobiographical and realistic writings such as Choses vues and his Mémoires, capture the revolutionary process in 1848. He illuminated for Paris, as Agulhon and Margadant did for the provinces, the cultural and social processes by which republicanism spread. His focus on sociability and festivity thus complemented the work of the most innovative historians of the past thirty years on the 1848 revolution. It also revealed that romantic empathy led many writers to the left during this revolution was not simply sentimental but also sober.'

The people in HND are attending the Festival of Fools to elect a Lord of Misrule so are being foolish by mocking the clergy and the church, which is part of the element of misrule attached to the festival. Significantly this all takes place during the medieval reign of King Louis XI, whilst Hugo is writing during the revolutionary attempt to dethrone King-Emperor Louis Napoleon in 1830.


message 33: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments MadgeUK wrote: "HND was written during the 3 day 1830 revolution, the 'war of the barricades'; not the main 1789 one. Both Les Miserables and HND combine the ideas of the revolutions of 1830, 1832 and 1848 - Libe..."

I realize that. But the legacy of the French Revolution is still relevant in Hugo's writings.


message 34: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 16, 2011 12:25PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes indeed but the 1830, 1832 and 1848 ones were more immediate to him and the 1848 especially because it restored the republic. He saw the reign of Louis Napoleon as being a time of 'misrule.

BTW King Louis XI was thoought to be ugly and was known as The Universal Spider because of the webs of intrigue he spun - Quasimodo is likened to a spider and there are quite a few references to spiders and webs in HND.


message 35: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Silver wrote: "Kim wrote: In relation to my reading of Hunchback so far, I am interested in the voice of the narrator, which is used so differently to the way in which Bronte used it in Jane Eyre. Hugo appears to..."

Silver - I have to agree with you. This is my first time with Hugo and first time reading this book. Some of it is funny, but some chapters are making me crazy and I feel like I'm not sure what point Hugo is making. Is it about the architecture, the people, the traditions?


message 36: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
I'm reading both this book, and Madame Bovary. Both have limited dialog in them, but I'm finding Madame Bovary to be an easier read for me. Hugo's constant interruptions breaks up the reading for me and I end up confused - having to re-read what I just read. So far, it's not a favorite for me, but I'm hoping my opinion will change. Normally I enjoy the dialog and thought I would really miss it. I do here, but not in Bovary.


message 37: by Georgie (new)

Georgie | 107 comments Deborah wrote: "I'm reading both this book, and Madame Bovary. Both have limited dialog in them, but I'm finding Madame Bovary to be an easier read for me. Hugo's constant interruptions breaks up the reading for..."

I know exactly what you mean Deborah, but I think you need to plough on sometimes because the denser descriptive sections create important background and prepare you for some astounding moments. I guess Hugo makes you work for them though!


message 38: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 17, 2011 09:07PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes, he is setting the scene and showing how important the building and the architecture are to the story. He wants us to know the building well before he introduces the characters who will be moving around in it. His descriptions are like a map but more beautiful.


message 39: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments I don't have a problem with the authorial voice or the lack of dialogue (although I generally like writers who do good dialogue). As I indicated earlier, the authorial voice seems to blur the divide between fiction and fact, which is quite a clever use of the device. It also gives Hugo the ability to go off on tangents which may not have anything obviously to do with the narrative, but so far I've enjoyed those tangents. I particularly love the description of Notre Dame. I have bit of a thing for Gothic cathedrals and listening to Hugo's description makes me feel the awe and wonder I felt when I first saw that amazing building.

I'm primarily reading Hunchback by listening to it on audiobook in French. This is something of challenge, because I don't understand every word. However, I understand well enough to follow the narrative and any sections I struggle with I read over in English.

What does confuse me a bit is the size of the cast. There seems to be lots of bit-players whose names I forget as soon as they are introduced. Forgetting names is nothing new to me, though. I do that all the time in real life. The audiobook format makes it harder to deal with, as I can't easily flick back a few pages!


message 40: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 17, 2011 09:06PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I guess it must help you with the descriptions if you have been inside the Notre Dame Kim. I have only seen it from the outside. There is a virtual plan of it in the Background thread, with a nice panorama of the Bell Tower.


message 41: by Georgie (new)

Georgie | 107 comments Kim wrote: "I don't have a problem with the authorial voice or the lack of dialogue (although I generally like writers who do good dialogue). As I indicated earlier, the authorial voice seems to blur the divid..."

Kim, can you tell me whether you download the audiobook in French, or do you have to buy the CDs? I like listening to audiobooks on my Kindle in the car and would quite like the challenge of listening to one in French (although I imagine I would only understand the odd word!)


message 42: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments Georgie, it was downloaded onto my iPod from a free internet site. I also have it in French on my kindle (the French language version was either free or super-cheap), but I don't know if the kindle voice activation thing would work on that version. I will check tonight and let you know. Do you have an mp3 player? If so, I will also find the website that I got the audiobook from.


message 43: by Georgie (new)

Georgie | 107 comments Kim wrote: "Georgie, it was downloaded onto my iPod from a free internet site. I also have it in French on my kindle (the French language version was either free or super-cheap), but I don't know if the kindle..."

Thanks Kim, I'd appreciate that. I've been getting some audio books from the Audible site but I don't think they have French language ones. I do have an mp3 player that I could use.


message 44: by Mo (new)

Mo MadgeUK wrote: "Yes, he is setting the scene and showing how important the building and the architecture are to the story. He wants us to know the building well before he introduces the characters who will be movi..."I haven't started Hunchback yet, but I just finisher Les Miserables yesterday. I would agree wholeheartedly with your comment, "His descriptions are like a map but more beautiful." Well put!


message 45: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments Georgie wrote: "Kim wrote: "Georgie, it was downloaded onto my iPod from a free internet site. I also have it in French on my kindle (the French language version was either free or super-cheap), but I don't know i..."

Georgie - here's the link for the audiobook:

http://www.litteratureaudio.com/livre...

I've loved listening to it - the narrator is great.

This is the link to the kindle version that I have. However, a review on the Amazon site indicates that the audio is useless because the pronunciation is wrong.

http://www.amazon.com/Notre-Paris-Fre...


message 46: by Georgie (new)

Georgie | 107 comments Kim wrote: "Georgie wrote: "Kim wrote: "Georgie, it was downloaded onto my iPod from a free internet site. I also have it in French on my kindle (the French language version was either free or super-cheap), bu..."

Thanks Kim - I'll have a look at them both.


message 47: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4460 comments Mod
Georgie wrote: "Deborah wrote: "I'm reading both this book, and Madame Bovary. Both have limited dialog in them, but I'm finding Madame Bovary to be an easier read for me. Hugo's constant interruptions breaks up..."

Georgie - Have no fear, I'll definitely plow on. Sometimes it's not even the writer or book - just not the right time for the reader to pick it up. I almost always finish what I've started so I'm plowing.

I've been to Notre Dame (the one that exists today) so I can get a feel for the architecture. I just think it's a little overdone - the writing not the architecture.


message 48: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2063 comments Mod
fyi - there's an app for the ipad called Audiobooks that has books in a number of languages, including French and including Hugo, but unfortunately not ND. I think there was a small cost for that app of 1.99. I also have a free app called Megareader which provides free ebooks in many languages. They are books in public domain, therefore many classics and they do have ND in French as well as English. I am using that method to read Pickwick now & plan to go through all of Dickens with it.


message 49: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Yarbrough (mkyarbrough) | 2 comments If Victor Hugo wrote the Hunchback today, no one would read it. He breaks all the modern rules--author intrusion, showing not telling, elaborate scenic detail, but that's what makes this novel so interesting--the details, the explanation, the taking us into another time and place. Because of his writing style, this is not a fast read, so we have to transport ourselves into his time, slow down and journey back a couple hundred years and enjoy the story as it unfolds.


message 50: by Historybuff93 (last edited Jul 19, 2011 07:12PM) (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments Marilyn wrote: "If Victor Hugo wrote the Hunchback today, no one would read it. He breaks all the modern rules--author intrusion, showing not telling, elaborate scenic detail, but that's what makes this novel so i..."

Great point!

I've found that a lot of romantic writers are like that (Hugo's writing style).

I wonder part of authors like Hugo (Dickens comes to mind too), in terms of all these "extra" things, was the time they were writing in. In those days, reading was the major form of entertainment, so perhaps the extra details could be compared to a film-maker having lots of shots which put us into that world.


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