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The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences-biographical, historical, and literary-to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. One of the first great novels of the Romantic era, Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame has thrilled generations of readers with its powerfully melodramatic story of Quasimodo, the deformed hunchback who lives in the bell tower of medieval Paris's most famous cathedral. Feared and hated by all, Quasimodo is looked after by Dom Claude Frollo, a stern, cold priest who ignores the poor
hunchback in the face of his frequent public torture. But someone steps forward to help-the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, whose single act of kindness fills Quasimodo with love. Can the hunchback save the lovely gypsy from Frollo's evil plan, or will they all perish in the shadows of Notre Dame? An epic tale of beauty and sadness, The Hunchback of Notre Dame portrays the sufferings of humanity with compassion and power. Isabel Roche teaches French language and literature at Bennington College. She specializes in the nineteenth-century French novel.
About The Author Isabel Roche teaches French language and literature at Bennington College. She specializes in the nineteenthcentury French novel.
Biography Novelist, poet, dramatist, essayist, politician, and leader of the French Romantic movement from 1830 on, VictorMarie Hugo was born in BesanÃ§on, France, on February 26, 1802. Hugo's early childhood was turbulent: His father, Joseph-LÃ©opold, traveled as a general in NapolÃ©on Bonaparte's army, forcing the family to move frequently. Weary of this upheaval, Hugo's mother, Sophie, separated from her husband and settled in Paris. Victor's brilliance declared itself early in the form of illustrations, plays, and nationally recognized verse. Against his mother's wishes, the passionate young man fell in love and secretly became engaged to AdÃ¨le Foucher in 1819. Following the death of his mother, and self-supporting thanks to a royal pension granted for his first book of odes, Hugo wed AdÃ¨le in 1822.
In the 1820s and 1830s, Victor Hugo came into his own as a writer and figurehead of the new Romanticism, a movement that sought to liberate literature from its stultifying classical influences. His 1827 preface to the play Cromwell proclaimed a new aesthetic inspired by Shakespeare, based on the shock effects of juxtaposing the grotesque with the sublime. The great success of Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) confirmed Hugo's primacy among the Romantics. By 1830 the Hugos had four children. Exhausted from her pregnancies and her husband's insatiable sexual demands, AdÃ¨le began to sleep alone, and soon fell in love with Hugo's best friend, the critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve. They began an affair. The Hugos stayed together as friends, and in 1833 Hugo met the actress Juliette Drouet, who would remain his primary mistress until her death 50 years later. Personal tragedy pursued Hugo relentlessly. His jealous brother EugÃ¨ne went permanently insane following Victor's wedding to AdÃ¨le. His daughter, LÃ©opoldine, together with her unborn child and her devoted husband, died at 19 in a boating accident on the Seine. Hugo never fully recovered from this loss. Political ups and downs ensued as well, following the shift of Hugo's early royalist sympathies toward liberalism during the late 1820s. He first held political office in 1843, and as he became more engaged in France's social troubles, he was elected to the Constitutional Assembly following the February Revolution of 1848. After NapolÃ©on III's coup d'Ã©tat in 1851, Hugo's open opposition created hostilities that ended in his flight abroad from the new government. Declining at least two offers of amnesty -- which would have meant curtailing his opposition to the Empire -- Hugo remained in exile in the Channel Islands for 19 years, until the fall of NapolÃ©on III in 1870. Meanwhile, the seclusion of the islands enabled Hugo to write some of his most famous verse as well as Les MisÃ©rables (1862). When he returned to Paris, the country hailed him as a hero. Hugo then weathered, within a brief period, the siege of Paris, the institutionalization of his daughter AdÃ¨le for insanity, and the death of his two sons. Despite this personal anguish, the aging author remained committed to political change. He became an internationally revered figure who helped to preserve and shape the Third Republic and democracy in France. Hugo's death on May 22, 1885, generated
intense national mourning; more than two million people joined his funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the PanthÃ©on, where he was buried. Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Good To Know Hugo was seen by his fans as a grand, larger-than-life character -- and rumors spread that he could eat half an ox in one sitting, fast for three days, and then work without stopping for a week. Hugo owned a pet cat named Gavroche -- the name of one of the primary characters in Les MisÃ©rables. The longest sentence ever written in literature is in Les MisÃ©rables; depending on the translation, it consists of about 800 words. When Hugo published Les MisÃ©rables, he was on holiday. After not hearing anything about its reception for a few days, Hugo sent a telegram to his publisher, reading, simply: "?" The complete reply from the publisher: "!"
Reviews These visually appealing abridgments of classic titles make fairly difficult and complex novels accessible to a junior high audience. Virtually all kids are aware of Disney's not-so-ugly Quasimodo as the hunchbacked bell ringer of the Notre Dame Cathedral in 15th-century hang-'em-high Paris, and many will have seen some film version of Dracula. Massively trimmed, these retellings have brief, readable chapters; the violence is toned down and the eroticism erased. Competent illustrators bring visual unity to the presentations. Beginning with table-of-contents pages that feature portraits of the casts of characters, the books then devote a few pages to setting the place and mood of the tales. Two-page spreads of text and drawings are framed by related facts and illustrated with details from paintings, photographs, and even movie stills, all of which provide fascinating geographical, historical, and archaeological tidbits.
This is truely one of the best well writen books I have read. The first few chapters are pretty boring and hard to get through, but I promise the story will pick up and that you should just stick to it. Beside the amazing story the novle has a great deal of historical details of everyday life and of the architecture of Paris during the time. I felt very acomplished and releved when I finished this book. Because it is long, but worth reading!
Out of the many classics (and also the many current novels) of which I've read, Notre Dame is definitely the best. Beautifully crafted with memorable characters, Hugo has truly written a masterpiece, with a wondrous writing style that is beyond all else. Centered in Paris, during a period just after the middle ages, the story follows four different characters: the beautiful, enchanting Esmeralda; the stern, yet kind hearted Claude Frollo; the liberal, yet clueless philosopher Gringoire; and, of course, Quasimodo, the hunchback who wrings the bells of Notre Dame. Through the eyes of these characters, we see the impact of temptation, of love, and of misleading appearances, that the greatest heart may reside in the most crooked of bodies. Despite the title, though, little is actually told in Quasimodo's voice, but rather most of the story is told through the eyes of Gringoire and the priest Frollo. Another of the main aspects, is the actual structure of Notre Dame, and the
immense loss in the art of architecture, which since the middle ages has continued to diminish as times progress. Just as a warning, do not read this book with the expectation that it will be like the popular Disney movie, it is completely different (in fact, it is better to think of them as two completely separate stories); both are very good, but both are vastly different! Stunningly executed, and definitely memorable, the Hunchback of Notre Dame makes the perfect read, classic or no!!!
By far the best classic I've ever read. This story is dark, with odd snippets of humor. The characters are all deeply obsessed with each other which brings out both the best and worst in humanity. An excellent classic and an excellent read.
Read An Excerpt From Isabel Roche's Introduction to The Hunchback of Notre Dame In the case of Quasimodo, the central duality is that of the opposing poles of the sublime and the grotesque. From the beginning to the end of the novel, his physical incompleteness leaves him hopelessly suspended between the states of man and animal. Quasimodo is defined by his animal-like strength (proven in numerous scenes such as the early, failed abduction of Esmeralda and the assault on the cathedral) and by his animal-like mentality, which is at once a result of his incomplete intellectual faculties and a conditioned response to the (unkind) way he has been treated by those around him, save his "adopted" father, Claude Frollo, to whom he is completely devoted ("Quasimodo loved the archdeacon as no dog, no horse, no elephant, ever loved its master." But unlike the archdeacon, who is rigidly locked into his dual(ing) nature, Quasimodo is transfigured by Esmeralda's simple gesture of kindness to him during his torture on the pillory. All the difference is there. Indeed, from that moment on, Quasimodo undergoes an awakening, during which his dormant soul comes alive and expands exponentially, as witnessed in the scene in which Quasimodo-proud and glorious-swoops down from the top of the cathedral to save Esmeralda from being hanged: "For at that instant Quasimodo was truly beautiful. He was beautiful,-he, that orphan, that foundling, that outcast; he felt himself to be august and strong; he confronted that society from which he was banished . . . he,-the lowliest of creatures, with the strength of God." Quasimodo's devotion to Esmeralda supplants the cherished role previously held for Frollo, and he subsequently does everything in his power to ensure her safety and happiness. In attempting to repair her relationship with Phoebus, in warding off Frollo's unwanted visits, and in endeavoring to save Esmeralda from the "attackers," in whom he mistakenly perceives a threat to her safety, Quasimodo risks everything in Esmeralda's name. Yet in the end this transfiguration, this conversion from grotesque to sublime-unobserved by Esmeralda, so caught up is she in Phoebus's aura of false brilliance-is of a profoundly personal nature and passes virtually unnoticed. It is the reader who is charged with recognizing its final expression in the account given in the novel's last chapter of two anonymous skeletons found sometime later in the vault at Montfaucon, locked in an embrace. Without naming them, the description leaves no doubt that one is Esmeralda (identifiable by the remnants of her white gown and the empty bag that once contained her childhood shoe) and the other is Quasimodo (identifiable by the remains of his hideously deformed body), who disappeared from the cathedral the day of Esmeralda's death. More remarkable than the embrace, however, is that the male skeleton's neck is intact, leading to the irrefutable conclusion that he came to the cave not already dead, but to die. The self-imposed nature of Quasimodo's death thus implies that the completion of this conversion must necessarily occur outside the boundaries of the social and historical world of the novel. For the only place where his opposing poles can be truly reconciled is in the cosmic whole; it is in leaving his shell of a body behind (it significantly crumbles into dust when separated from that of Esmeralda) that this awakened soul can take flight.
This message that redemption and salvation are possible, but never in the world as it exists now, is the thread that binds all of Hugo's novels together like a quilt whose squares, when viewed carefully, each reveal the same intricate pattern. Everything that is in The Hunchback of Notre Dame will be retraced, retold, reinvented in Hugo's four subsequent novels. Quasimodo's dilemma, his struggle between two opposing poles, will become that of Jean Valjean in Les MisÃ©rables, that of Gilliatt in The Toilers of the Sea, that of Gwynplaine-another "monster" horrific on the outside and pure within-in The Man Who Laughs, and that of Gauvain in Ninety-three. Only through their deaths and a corresponding cosmic expansion or rebirth are Hugo's fictional heroes able to find acceptance, transcendence, reconciliation of their internal oppositions, and affirmation of their individual moral potential. Time and again, the message of Hugo's "new" novel is that historical existence as depicted, with its blindness, failures, and shortcomings, is incompatible with, or at the very least less significant than, the realization of this personal and often private promise. In spite of Hugo's lingering hesitancy surrounding the genre-a thirty-year period of novelistic silence separates the wildly successful Hunchback of Notre Dame from Les MisÃ©rables-it is without a doubt the form best suited to the scope and breadth of his all-encompassing vision, one that, to his own mind, was not at all fatalistic. On the contrary, Hugo preferred to view his novels as a "series of affirmations of the soul" (Oeuvres complÃ¨tes, vol. 14, p. 387; translation mine). While contemporary readers and critics did not always agree-citing The Hunchback of Notre Dame as particularly ambiguous in its meaning-Hugo's profound and overwhelming belief in both individual and collective man's potential for progress is perhaps more evident to us today. Indeed, while the inadequacies of each past society that he examines and of the present in which he wrote pervade Hugo's fiction, his presentation of core, universal truths relative to the human condition show an unwavering faith in the future, in our future, to which his aspirations for the historical and social worlds are deferred.
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