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Hunchback of Notre-Dame, The

About the Story

Hunchback of Notre-Dame, The

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) is considered one of the most respected authors of French literature. Hugo is best known for his collections of poems and his novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was first published in 1831 and was originally entitled Notre-Dame de Paris (the name of Notre-Dame cathedral), which is translated as “Our Lady of Paris.” Notre-Dame Cathedral was built from 1163 to 1345 and is known for its flying buttresses and stained glass windows. Victor Hugo, who greatly admired the cathedral, wrote Notre-Dame de Paris to save Notre-Dame, which was in such disrepair that officials considered demolishing it. Hugo’s novel was enormously successful and led to the restoration of Notre-Dame from 1844-1864. Sadly, Notre-Dame caught fire on April 15, 2019 and suffered considerable damage. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame includes characters from all walks of life, from royalty to thieves, and is the first novel to feature beggars as main characters. Hugo believed writers should defend the less fortunate by documenting social injustice. During his lifetime, Hugo championed free education, universal suffrage, and the abolition of the death penalty. Hugo referred to himself as a freethinker, and though his writings focus on issues of social injustice, he always espoused optimism for the future of humanity: “In the twentieth century, war will be dead, the scaffold will be dead, hatred will be dead, frontier boundaries will be dead, dogmas will be dead; man will live.” Two days before Hugo died he wrote, “To love is to act.”