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The hunchback of Notre Dame (Collins New classics series-no.552) Hardcover – Import, January 1, 1953

4.3 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Collins New classics series-no.552
  • Hardcover: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (January 1, 1953)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0000CIN1J
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Contrary to popular opinion the novel Le Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo is not primarily about the deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo. Quasimodo's role is actually surprisingly small in the story, which makes you wonder why the English translater's chose "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" as the translation for the title. Actually, as the original French title would indicate, it is the cathedral itself that is the focus of the book. This is why in the unabridged editions of this book you will find numerous chapters that seemingly have nothing to do with the plot of the story. This is the books weakest point, and it may turn many people away from the book. Once you get into the plot, however, it is iimpossible to put the book down. The characters are intriguing: composer Pierre Gringoire, archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, once a paragon of virtue now tormented by his corrupt love for a gipsy girl, L'Esmerelda, the naive gipsy dancer, Phoebus, the selfish, egotistical captain of the guards, and of course Qausimodo, a deaf, deformed bellringer. The relationships between these characters are complex and dark but they make an unforgettable story. The story is never, from front to back, a happy one, so if you are looking for a book that makes you "feel good" this is not the one for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a good book to read, that is unafraid to deal with the darker side of reality, I highly recommend "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
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Format: Hardcover
Victor Hugo never wrote a book titled THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. Some early translator gave it that name. What Hugo wrote was a book called NOTRE DAME OF PARIS (in French: NOTRE DAME de PARIS). This is not a book that is primarily about a hunchback named Quasimodo or a beautiful Gypsy girl named Esmerelda. It is a book narrowly focused on the Cathedral of Notre Dame situated on the Ile de la Cite in the center of Paris and, more broadly, on the 15th century city of Paris. This was a Paris where public executions or any form of punishment involving public humiliation were the highest forms of entertainment and drew the kinds of crowds that we would see at a major sports event today. If this book is not read with this in mind, the reader might well be disappointed because he came to it with a different sort of book in mind. I would like to congratulate the one previous reviewer who reviewed the book on the basis of its actual scope and intent.
Now to the human aspects of the novel, the plot so to speak: There are no perfect angels in this book. After all, Esmerelda was a part of a band of thieves who came to public gatherings for the express purpose of seeing what they could "gather" for themselves. Quasimodo was not a misshapen humanitarian. He had been known to carry out a dirty deed or two himself. As for the rest of the characters, there's not a role model in the bunch. To Hugo's credit, we really care about Quasimodo and Esmerelda, "warts and all." This is one indication of good writing.
The basic plot, devoid of any embellishments, is rather simple. Esmerelda, out of humanitarian instincts, comes to Quasimodo's aid in a small but meaningful way when he really needs a friend.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Walter J. Cobb's complete and unabridged edition of Victor Hugo's classic, the "Hunchback of Notre-Dame," is without a doubt the best to be found. His translation retains the original romanticism and tragedy so characteristic of the great novelist's works. One would search in vain to find a better edition than Cobb's full-throated rendition of this great masterpiece of French Literature.
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Format: Paperback
Somebody once wrote that great books inspire great minds. Hugo's novel of the deformed, ugly, despicable Quasimodo is a tale of love, hate, revenge, and of a man <as producer Irving Thalberg remarked>, "God Made Different." The book is too remarkable to put into words. Yes, it's long. Yes, it's difficult to modern readers more used to Danielle Steele and others of that ilk. But "the Hunchback of Notre Dame" earns its mantle as a "classic" because of it's themes, it's timeless tale of love and honor, and it's unforgettable plot and story.
Modern readers want slam-bang climaxes and chases. Modern readers want simple plotting, no charecterization, and little thought or planning.
Hugo defies that, and makes the reader think, makes the reader pause, makes the reader reflect; then Hugo delivers a tale of horror, of humor, of love, and of grand thought and whopping entertainment.
By the way, check out Lon Cheney's silent movie version.
BUT READ THE BOOK FIRST!
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Format: Paperback
Victor Hugo was, among other accomplishments, a dramatist. It shows in this book. He knows how to take his time, how to create background and setting, how to build tension and anticipation. Yet, when the denouement occurs (as several mini-climaxes do before the final one), it does so with shocking or stunning detail, effect, and speed. For all the meandering Hugo does before a climax, he is quite economical when he gets to the end. "Notre Dame" is, despite its length, a nail-biting, page-turning read.

But the dramatist also is evident in another way: dialogue. As has been mentioned by others, the dialogue seems stagey, two-dimensional, over the top (or under the bottom, if you wish). This, apparently, was typical of stage productions in Hugo's day. Claude Frollo, for example, in his last conversation with Esmeralda, is practically unbelievable. But he is not alone: Esmeralda herself stretches our credulity. (For one thing, we are never told why she seemed so sympathetic to Quasimodo on the pillory but repulsed by him in the cathedral.) She immediately falls in love with Phoebus, whom she only meets once briefly, and never changes her feelings, which is to say that she never learns, never grows, never seems aware. And this leads to the oft-repeated, central complaint about this book: the main players are not people; they are symbols, constant and unchanging.

For example, at one point, in describing Quisimodo and Esmeralda, Hugo writes, ". . . there was someting touching about the protection offered by a creature so deformed to one so unfortunate -- one condemned to death saved by Quasimodo. Here were the two extremes of physical and social wretchedness meeting and assisting each other." (Walter J.
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