The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame, first published by Victor Hugo in 1831, is set in fifteenth century Paris. The archdeacon of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo, falls in lust with Esmerelda-a gypsy dancer who is much admired in Paris. At his instruction, Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell-ringer of Notre Dame who he has befriended, kidnaps her. Esmerelda is rescued by Phoebus de Chateaupers (Captain of the Royal Archers) and she falls mistakenly in love with his bravery when he is in reality, something of a rogue and a braggart.

Jealous, Frollo follows Esmerelda to a meeting with Phoebus. Frollo stabs Phoebus before Esmerelds. Tortured, Esmerelda confesses to killing Phoebus and is sentenced to death for the murder. On the gallows, Esmerelda sees that Phoebus is still alive and begs for him to help, but he turns away from her. Just then, Quasimodo swings down and rescues her, bringing her to sanctuary in the cathedral. Adventures follow, including a band of gypsies attempt to save Esmerelda from the cathedral, the disguised Frollo's persuasion of the girl to leave with him and the brief return of Esmerelda to her mother.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400102112
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 02/28/2006
Edition description: Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Victor Hugo (1802–1885) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights campaigner, and perhaps the most influential exponent of the Romantic movement in France. His best-known works are the novels Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

A highly respected and enthusiastic audiobook narrator, David Case specialized in creating unique and interesting character voices.

Date of Birth:

February 26, 1802

Date of Death:

May 22, 1885

Place of Birth:

Besançon, France

Place of Death:

Paris, France


Pension Cordier, Paris, 1815-18

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Great Hall of the Palace of Justice

ON JANUARY 6, 1482, the people of Paris were awakened by the tumultuous clanging of all the bells in the city. Yet history has kept no memory of this date, for there was nothing notable about the event which set in motion the bells and the citizens of Paris that morning. It was not an attack by the Picards or the Burgundians, a procession carrying the relics of some saint, an entry of "Our Most Dreaded Lord, Monsieur the King," nor even a good hanging of thieves.

Nor was it the arrival of some foreign ambassador and his train, all decked out in lace and feathers, a common sight in the fifteenth century. It had been scarcely two days since the latest cavalcade of this kind had paraded through the streets: the delegation of Flemish ambassadors sent to conclude the marriage between the Dauphin and Marguerite of Flanders. To his great annoyance, Cardinal de Bourbon, in order to please the king, had been obliged to give a gracious reception to that uncouth band of Flemish burgomasters and entertain them in his mansion.

The cause of all the commotion on the sixth of January was the double holiday of the Epiphany and the Festival of Fools, united since time immemorial. This year the celebration was to include a bonfire at the Place de Greve, a maypole dance at the Chapelle de Braque and the performance of a play in the Palace of Justice, all of which had been announced by public proclamation the day before. All shops were to remain closed for the holiday.

Early in the morning the crowd began streaming toward the three designated places, each person having decided on either thebonfire, the maypole or the play. It is a tribute to the ancient common sense of the people of Paris that the majority of the crowd went to either the bonfire, which was quite seasonable, or the play, which was to be performed in the shelter of the great hall of the palace, leaving the poor maypole to shiver beneath the January sky in the cemetery of the Chapelle de Braque.

The avenues leading to the Palace of Justice were particularly crowded because it was known that the Flemish ambassadors, who had arrived two days before, were planning to attend the play and the election of the Pope of Fools, which was also to be held in the palace.

It was not easy to get into the great hall that day, even though it was reputed at the time to be the largest single room in the world. To the spectators looking out of their windows, the square in front of the palace, packed solid with people, presented the appearance of a sea, with five or six streets flowing into it, constantly disgorging a stream of heads. The waves of this sea broke against the corners of the houses jutting out like promontories into the irregular basin of the square. Shouts, laughter and the shuffling of thousands of feet blended to produce a mighty uproar.

At the doors and windows and on the rooftops swarmed a myriad of sober, honest faces, looking at the palace and the crowd with placid contentment. Many Parisians still find deep satisfaction in watching people who are watching something; even a wall behind which something is happening is an object of great curiosity to them.

Let us now imagine that immense oblong hall inside the palace, illuminated by the pale light of a January day and invaded by a motley and noisy crowd pouring in along the walls and swirling around the seven great pillars. In the middle of the hall, high up and against one wall, an enclosed gallery had been erected for the Flemish ambassadors and the other important personages who had been invited to see the play. A private entrance opened into it through one of the windows.

At one end of the hall was the famous marble table, so long, wide and thick that "such a slab of marble has never been seen before on earth," as an old document puts it. The play was to be performed on this table, according to custom. It had been set up for that purpose early in the morning. A high wooden platform had been placed on it, the top of which was to serve as the stage. Tapestries hung around the sides formed a sort of dressing room for the actors underneath. A ladder, undisguisedly propped up against the outside of the platform, connected the dressing room and the stage and served for entrances and exits alike. Every actor, no matter how unexpected his appearance in the play, and every stage effect, had to come laboriously up that ladder in full view of the audience.

Four sergeants of the bailiff of the palace, whose duty was to keep order among the people at festivals as well as executions, stood at each corner of the huge marble table.

The play was not scheduled to begin until the great clock of the palace struck noon—quite late for a theatrical performance, but it had been necessary to arrange the hour to suit the convenience of the ambassadors.

Many of the people had been shivering before the steps of the palace since dawn and some declared they had spent the whole night huddled in the great doorway in order to make sure of being among the first to enter. The crowd was growing denser at every moment and, like a river overflowing its banks, it soon began to rise up the walls and spill over onto the cornices, architraves, window ledges and all other projecting features of the architecture. Discomfort, impatience, boredom, the freedom of a day of license, the quarrels constantly breaking out over a sharp elbow or a hobnailed shoe, the fatigue of a long wait—all this gave a tone of bitterness to the clamor of the people as they stood squeezed together, jostled, trampled on and almost smothered. The air was full of complaints and insults against the Flemings, Cardinal de Bourbon, the bailiff of the palace, the sergeants, the cold, the heat, the bad weather, the Bishop of Paris, the Pope of Fools, the pillars, the statues, this closed door, that open window; all to the great amusement of a band of students and lackeys who, scattered throughout the crowd, mixed in their jibes and sarcasm with all that dissatisfaction and thus goaded the general bad humor into becoming even worse.

Some of these merry demons had knocked the glass out of one of the windows and were boldly sitting in it. From there they were able to direct their bantering remarks both inside and outside, toward the crowd in the hall and the crowd in the square. From their mimicking gestures, their loud laughter and the ribald jokes they exchanged with their comrades from one end of the hall to the other, it was easy to see that they did not share the boredom and fatigue of the rest of the spectators and that they were able to extract enough entertainment from the scene spread out before their eyes to avoid being impatient for the scheduled performance to begin.

"My God, there's Jehan Frollo!" shouted one of them to a small blond young man with a handsome, mischievous face who was clinging to the carved foliage at the top of one of the pillars. "How long have you been here?"

"More than four hours, by the devil's mercy!" replied Jehan. "And I hope the time will be taken off my term in purgatory!"

Just then the clock struck noon.

"Ah!" said the whole crowd with satisfaction. The students became silent and there ensued a noisy shuffling of feet, a general craning of necks and a mighty explosion of coughing as each person stood up and placed himself in the best position to see the stage. Then there was silence. All heads were thrust forward, all mouths were open and all eyes were turned toward the great marble table. But nothing appeared on it. The four sergeants were still there, as stiff and motionless as four painted statues. The crowd looked up at the gallery reserved for the Flemish ambassadors. It was empty and the door leading into it remained shut. They had been waiting since morning for three things: noon, the Flemish ambassadors and the play. Noon was the only one to arrive in time.

This was too much. They waited for one, two, three, five minutes, a quarter of an hour; nothing happened. The gallery and the stage were still deserted. Impatience began to turn into anger. An irritated murmur sprang up from one end of the hall to the other: "The play! The play! The play!" A storm, which was as yet only rumbling in the distance, began to gather over the crowd. It was Jehan Frollo who made it burst.

"Let's have the play, and to hell with the Flemings!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, twisting around his pillar like a serpent. The crowd applauded.

"The play!" they repeated. "And to hell with Flanders!"

"If they won't show us the play," went on the student, "I think we ought to hang the bailiff of the palace for entertainment!"

"That's right," shouted the people, "and let's start by hanging the sergeants!"

Loud cheers broke out. The poor sergeants turned pale and looked at one another anxiously. They saw the frail wooden balustrade which separated them from the crowd begin to give way as the people pressed forward in a body. It was a critical moment.

At that instant the tapestries forming the dressing room, as we have described above, parted to make way for a man who climbed up on the stage. As if by magic, the sight of him suddenly changed the crowd's anger into curiosity.

"Silence! Silence!"

Quaking with fear, the man walked unsteadily to the front of the stage with profuse bows which almost became genuflections as he came closer. Meanwhile calm had been pretty much restored. There remained only the slight murmur which always rises above the silence of a crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, "we have the honor to perform before His Eminence the Cardinal a very fine morality play entitled The Wise Decision of Our Lady the Virgin. I shall play the part of Jupiter. His Eminence is at this moment accompanying the honorable ambassadors of the Duke of Austria, who are listening to a speech by the rector of the University. As soon as His Eminence arrives we shall begin."

It is certain that nothing less than the intervention of Jupiter could have saved the four unfortunate sergeants. His costume was superb, which contributed considerably toward calming the crowd by attracting their attention. He was wearing a brigandine covered with black velvet, Greek sandals and a helmet adorned with imitation silver buttons. In his hand he held a roll of gilded cardboard covered with strips of tinsel which the experienced eyes of the audience easily recognized as a thunderbolt.

Chapter Two

Pierre Gringoire

THE UNANIMOUS admiration and satisfaction produced by his costume was, however, soon dissipated by his words. When he arrived at the unfortunate conclusion, "As soon as His Eminence arrives, we shall begin," his voice was lost in a thunderous outburst of disapproval.

"Start it right now! The play! The play right now!" shouted the people. Jehan Frollo's voice could be heard piercing the uproar like a fife in a village band. "Start it right now," he screeched.

"Down with Jupiter and Cardinal de Bourbon!" vociferated the other students, perched in the window.

"The play!" repeated the crowd. "Right away! String up the actors and the cardinal!"

Poor Jupiter, terror-stricken, bewildered and pale under his make-up, dropped his thunderbolt, took off his helmet, made a trembling bow and stammered, "His Eminence . . . the ambassadors . . ." He stopped, unable to think of anything else to say. He was afraid he would be hanged by the people if he waited and hanged by the cardinal if he did not. Whichever way he looked he saw the gallows.

Fortunately, someone came forward at this moment to assume responsibility and extricate him from his dilemma. No one had yet noticed a tall, slender young man standing against a pillar between the balustrade and the marble table. He had blond hair, shining eyes, smiling lips and, despite his youth, a number of wrinkles in his forehead and cheeks. His black serge garment was old and threadbare. He stepped up to the marble table and motioned to the wretched actor, but the latter was too panic-stricken to notice him. He stepped closer and said, "Jupiter!" The actor did not hear him. The tall young man shouted almost in his ear, "Michel Giborne!"

"Who is it?" exclaimed Jupiter, starting as if he had been suddenly awakened from a deep sleep.

"It's I."

"Oh," said Jupiter.

"Begin right away. Satisfy the crowd. I'll appease the bailiff and he'll appease the cardinal."
Jupiter heaved a sigh of relief. "Ladies and gentlemen," he shouted to the crowd, who continued to hoot him, "we are going to begin immediately."

There was a deafening outburst of applause which lasted for some time after Jupiter had withdrawn behind the tapestry.

Meanwhile the unknown young man who had so magically calmed the tempest modestly retired to the shadow of his pillar, where he would no doubt have remained as invisible, motionless and silent as before if it had not been for two young ladies who, being in the front rank of the spectators, had overheard his brief conversation with Michel Giborne-Jupiter.

"Master," said one of them, motioning him to come closer.

"Hush, Lienarde," said her companion, a pretty, fresh-looking girl decked out in her Sunday best. "You're not supposed to call a layman 'master'; just call him 'sir.' "

"Sir," said Lienarde.

The stranger stepped up to the balustrade. "What can I do for you, ladies?" he asked eagerly.
"Oh, nothing," said Lienarde, embarrassed. "My friend here, Gisquette la Gencienne, wanted to talk to you."

"I did not!" exclaimed Gisquette, blushing. "Lienarde called you 'master'; I just told her she ought to call you 'sir' instead."

The two girls lowered their eyes. The young man, who would have liked nothing better than to strike up a conversation with them, looked at them with a smile.

"You have nothing to say to me, then?"

"Oh, nothing at all," answered Gisquette.

"Nothing," said Lienarde.

The tall blond man turned to go away. But the two curious girls were not inclined to let him leave so soon.

"Sir," said Gisquette abruptly, with the impetuosity of water bursting through a floodgate or a woman making up her mind, "do you know the soldier who has the part of the Virgin Mary in the play?"

"You mean the part of Jupiter?" asked the stranger.

"Of course," said Lienarde. "She's so stupid! Well, do you know Jupiter?"

"Michel Giborne? Yes, madame."

"He has a fine beard!" said Lienarde.

"Will it be a good play?" asked Gisquette timidly.

"Very good," answered the stranger without the slightest hesitation.

"What's it about?" asked Lienarde.

"It's called The Wise Decision of Our Lady the Virgin—a morality play, madame."

"Oh, that's different," said Lienarde.

There was a short silence. The stranger broke it: "This is a brand-new morality play. It's never been performed before."

Table of Contents

Book First
I. The Great Hall
II. Pierre Gringoire
III. The Cardinal
IV. Master Jacques Coppenole
V. Quasimodo
VI. Esmeralda
Book Second
I. From Charybdis to Scylla
II. The Grève
III. Besos Para Golpes
IV. The Inconveniences of Following a Pretty Woman in the Street at Night
V. The Rest of the Inconveniences
VI. The Broken Jug
VII. A Wedding Night
Book Third
I. Notre-Dame
II. A Bird's-eye View of Paris
Book Fourth
I. Kind Souls
II. Claude Frollo
III. Immanis Pecoris Custos, Immanior Ipse
IV. The Dog and his Master
V. More about Claude Frollo
VI. Unpopularity
Book Fifth
I. Abbas Beati Martini
II. The One Will Kill the Other
Book Sixth
I. An Impartial Glance at the Ancient Magistracy
II. The Rat-Hole
III. The Story of a Wheaten Cake
IV. A Tear for a Drop of Water
V. End of the Story of the Cake

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Hunchback of Notre Dame 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amazing book. It was rather boring in the beginning, but later on it really adds to the novel. The story was so vivid and heartbreaking once I started I couldn't put it down. It isn't a happy book, so be warned. But it is a masterpiece and will always be one of my favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so far the best book yet classic ive ever read. But when disney made this into a film. Of course thell be some minor changes but disney always has to do a happy ending. Spoiler alert!!!!! For example the lovely esmeralda gets to be hanged along with the archeadon who falls and quasimodo who apearently jusr died from a heartbreak that esmeralda has caused. But no disney has to make phoebus and esmeralda fall in love. Quasi finally is welcomed to the town and of course dom claude dies from falling. Still love the book ok w the movie
MissBoyer3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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."
Wanderlust_Lost on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. It\'s more about the conflict of old vs. new, of architecture vs. literature, than it is about man vs. man. It\'s beautifully written and deeply tragic. I loved it.
Dufflepuds on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good classic but somehow drifted off away from the real plot. I know that the descriptive language was suppose to make you imagine that you're in that place but somehow I find that less enjoyable.
RebeccaAnn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The infamous story of the disfigured bell ringer and his guardian, the priest, who both fall in love with a beautiful, young gypsy. When Quasimodo tries to save Esmerelda from the gallows, the story ends in tragedy. Disney immortalized these characters and their lives, but Disney got it wrong. There isn't just one bad guy and bunch of good people. Here, no one's innocent and no one gets a happy ending.The name of the book is a bit misleading, I think. Having seen the Disney movie, I figured the protagonist would be Quasimodo. As odd as it is, though, the book doesn't really have a protagonist. Hugo kind of flits you from character to character in what seems an almost random pattern, often leaving one character at a vital point of the story to go visit the King and his clerk as they discuss how much everything costs. It can be very odd at times and honestly, it wasn't really a style of writing I wholly enjoyed. But then again, I was well aware of Hugo's tendency to go off on tangents before I started the book so it didn't come as a shocker and for the most part, it didn't detract too much from the story.One thing I wasn't expecting going into the book, however, was an approximate 100 page discription of Paris about a third of the way into the book. Hugo's prose is delightful, but even so I had a hard time getting through this section. However, I could see the relevence before I'd even finished the book. Paris is described as a huge city, branching out from a central location with random buildings connected to other random buildings of little to no similarity. Hugo jumps from one building to another to another, and in the end, he sums the entire description up nice and tidy in about a page. This is the same relationship as the characters. All the characters, who seem to have no relation to the others for the most part, are all connected and each character affects the fate of the others. They all interlock, even though they don't see it themselves. It's very impressive when you sit back and view the grand scope of the story.All in all, I heartily enjoyed this book and will be purchasing it for myself at some point in the near future. I recommend reading it, but don't expect to walk away feeling happy. The end is tragic (and a few scenes - namely one particular death scene - are very disturbing), no one gets their perfect, Disney ending, and the gargoyles, sadly, do not sing and dance ;-)
sariebearie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Extremely underrated. Hugo's most famous work is without a doubt Les Mis but I can never figure out why. Hunchback is beautiful and tragic and lovely and heartbreaking. Richly detailed but not to the point of tedium. Dramatic characters but still beleivable. It's a kaleidoscope of emotion and fulfills everything you could want in a book. My all time favourite.
xvpatchvx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great! Fast paced and terrific! See and then watch the movie for a different interpretation!
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Notre-Dame de Paris¿, the actual title of this book, is from Hugo¿s early phase; it was published in 1831 when he was only 29. Quasimodo the hunchback, La Esmeralda the gypsy dancer, and Claude Frollo the archdeacon are all unforgettable. Bear with it in the beginning, as Hugo takes his time setting the stage of Paris in 1482. Less philosophical and learned than his later works, but enjoyable nonetheless.Just one quote, on love:¿That little brother, without father or mother, that infant which dropped all at once from the sky into his arms, made a new man of him. He perceived that there was something in the world besides the speculations of the Sorbonne and the verses of Homer; that human beings have need of affections; that life without love is but a dry wheel, creaking and grating as it revolves.¿
johnthefireman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautiful and tragic book.
loralu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yet another great read by victor hugo. So much underlying meaning that still transforms to today alongside a great story on the surface. The struggles of inner vs outer beauty and acceptance will always be relatable, no matter the generation.
aikon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like the fiction but I don't like the story because it was sad and I couldn't understand the mind.However, I want the person who I can love as Quasimodo.
SaraPrindiville on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some parts were tough to get through, especially the chapter called "Bird's Eye View of Paris". Good, compelling story. How it was made into a Disney movie is beyond me though. It's about "forbidden love" of a priest for a 15 year old girl who he kills for. The emotions of the characters could have been pursued farther, but a good story.
Ricky21 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I reallly liked this book, despite the fact that the ending was so sad, and completley not what I expected or wanted to happen. I loved the Disney version of it, but I knew that the book would not end like the movie. The writing was well written, and the story pulled me in. I liked Quasimodo. He was made to be a repulsive creature that no one could love, but he was kind of endearing. He just wanted to love and be loved by someone. Esmeralda was kind and beautiful, but kind of stupid. All she could think about was Pheobus, who didn't even love her back. Pheobus was a ladies man, and basically didn't care about anything. All in all, the book was very good. I just didn't like the ending. The only good thing was Pierre saved Djali
deebee1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A hunchback, a gypsy, a mad priest. A church and a scaffold. Paris is not exactly the city of lights. Peopled by colourful characters, depraved creatures, hopeless beings, the architecture of the city, however, is a sight to behold. And the church of Notre Dame is the most magnificent of all.I enjoyed very much Hugo's writing, including the digressions on the evolution of architecture as a form of ¿writing¿ and immortality, as well as the portrayal of the center of the city, street by street. I didn't enjoy the story very much, though ¿ it was carrying martyrdom too far. The priest was vile, the soldier petty, and Esmeralda not just cloying but downright foolish, too. Quasimodo, however, made up for all that ¿ pity he didn't live a happier life. Though it doesn't hold a candle to Les Mis, I'm still glad to have read this, as I greatly admire Hugo's ability to paint images with words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My niece is reading the classics again, and wanted to read this. Had to buy The Hutchback of Notre-Dame so that she could read it again and again. That is how we enjoy the classics. A must read for teens as well as adults.
Tryion on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very detailed and hard to get through at times. Great ending!
Crewman_Number_6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could this book be anymore slow and boring? I think it took about 4 chapter just for him to walk down the street. Maybe I am just a victim of the modern literary style, but I like the author to get to the point. If I wanted to know every last detail of Paris, I would read a history book.
Irisheyz77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hugo is too long-winded and overly detailed. I was majorly bored with his heavy detail on a building or a many details that they often detracted from the story.
daizylee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my all-time favorites. Sadly underrated and overlooked. I think it's Hugo's best, most full work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am literally still wiping the tears from my eyes after reading this book. My review will not do it justice. So many summary I don't think the theme is so much about FATE, but rather an expose on the ridiculousness of humanity and what I would describe as a 'comedy of errors'. I laughed, I cried, I groaned and hung on every word, finishing the entire text in 2 days!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the disney movie, youd think Quasimodo woukd sound.. more deformed. Instead he sounds like a perfect person. Like if you heard his voice but you couldnt see him, youd picture a normal person but when you saw him you'd be all,"Wwho is he! He's ugly." I like the "Hellfire"song from the movie. Frollo sounds like a total jerk and i wanna slam his face in the mud. Luckily he dies in the end. :) If you agree with anything in this post, speak out! - #DRAGONIA :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago