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The Hunchback of Notre Dame
First published in 1831.
This translation by Isabel F. Hapgood.
Contrary to the English title of the book (which, in fact, Hugo disliked preferring his own, more accurate french title, Notre Dame de Paris) this book is not just about an ugly hunchback that stalks the dark towers of Notre Dame. It is more, much more. It is about the Cathedral of Notre Dame and how the lives of some random strangers are connected together in an intricate web of love, hate and despair. It is about the curse of love and how it comes to consume us and destroy us and elevate us and beautify us. It is about the power of the printed word and the transformation of human communication and expression. It is, as all books most certainly are in some small way, about life. There is a caveat however, that an iron patience is a necessity to enjoy this book. (Many times I found myself saying "O you gods, Give me that patience, patience I need"). A long book, "Notre Dame de Paris" has a patient author. Hugo takes his time developing the characters, coloring them with humanity and emotion, delaying the action to develop or introduce another character, creating a believable, realistic setting, until finally when the characters are so developed that they seem to be breathing off the pages, he brings in the La Guillotine. One should take care to know that the book is a tragedy and there will be no happy endings (unlike the loathsome Disney monstrosity) so if you have tears prepare to shed them in this book.--Submitted by Shihab Dider.
For though he was gentle and kind, it was Quasimodo's crime to have been born hideously deformed. But one day his heart would prove to be a thing of rare beauty. She was Esmerelda. The victim of a coward's jealous rage, she is unjustly convicted of a crime she didn't commit. Her sentence is death by hanging. Only one man can save her--Quasimodo
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