The Hunchback of Notre Dame (14 Cassettes)

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Overview

The story and characters in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame have resonated with succeeding generations since its publication in 1831. It has tempted filmmakers, and most recently animators, who have exploited its dramatic content to good effect but have inevitably lost some of the grays that make the original text so compelling.
From Victor Hugo's flamboyant imagination came Quasimodo, the grotesque bell ringer; La Esmeralda, the sensuous gypsy dancer; and the haunted ...
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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The story and characters in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame have resonated with succeeding generations since its publication in 1831. It has tempted filmmakers, and most recently animators, who have exploited its dramatic content to good effect but have inevitably lost some of the grays that make the original text so compelling.
From Victor Hugo's flamboyant imagination came Quasimodo, the grotesque bell ringer; La Esmeralda, the sensuous gypsy dancer; and the haunted archdeacon Claude Frollo. Hugo set his epic tale in the Paris of 1482 under Louis XI and meticulously re-created the
day-to-day life of its highest and lowest inhabitants. Written at a time of perennial political upheaval in France, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is the product of an emerging democratic sensibility and prefigures the teeming masterpiece Les Misérables, which Hugo would write thirty years later.
He made the cathedral the centerpiece of the novel and called it Notre-Dame de Paris. (It received its popular English title at the time of its second translation in 1833.) Hugo wrote that his inspiration came from a carving of the word "fatality" in Greek that he had found in the cathedral. The inscription had been eradicated by the time the book was published, and Hugo feared that Notre-Dame's Gothic splendor might soon be lost to the contemporary fad for tearing down old buildings. Notre-Dame has survived as one of the great monuments of Paris, and Hugo's novel is a fitting celebration of it, a popular classic that is proving to be just as enduring.

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series wasfounded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foun-dation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hard-bound editions of important works of liter-ature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inau-gurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.




Jacket paintings: (front) detail from Notre Dame by Paul Lecomte, courtesy of David David Gallery/SuperStock; (spine) Victor Hugo, 1833, by Louis Boulanger of Giraudon/Art Resource, N.Y.

A retelling of the tale, set in medieval Paris, of Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bellringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, and his struggles to save the beautiful gypsy dancer Esmaralda from being unjustly executed.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Katsh
Here's a good idea! Take an historical novel, package it with bits of information about the period, and illustrate it profusely using lots of captions. It's publisher DK's new approach for making classic literature accessible to today's young audiences, and it works! The first couple of pages of the book recount geographic, historical, and political facts about medieval Paris. Then, the retelling of Hugo's classic begins, but the historical immersion does not stop with the introductory information. Throughout the retelling, in mostly unobtrusive marginal pictures and captions, readers are supplied with the information they need and want to make the story as meaningful and as compelling as Hugo himself would have wanted. It's a powerful and effective way to present a powerful piece of literary history. Also in the "Eyewitness Classics" series are Robin Hood, Black Beauty, and Dracula.
Kirkus Reviews
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (40 pp.; Sept. 1997; 0-531- 30055-2): A storybook retelling of Hugo's classic of the lonely bellringer and his hopeless love for the beautiful gypsy girl, Esmerelda, whom he rescues from hanging and the evil archdeacon Dom Frollo and reunites with her mother. While remaining relatively faithful to the original, this version from Wynne- Jones (The Maestro, 1996, etc.) is always competent, but never compelling. Slavin creates lovely illustrations, but his pale washes leave even the most festive scenes sedate. The volume lacks power or emotion; adults seeking an alternative—any alternative—to the Disney film may find that this one hardly competes for the hearts and minds of the target audience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786105700
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/1991
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: 14 Cassettes
  • Product dimensions: 6.83 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 2.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
"If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away," the larger-than-life Victor Hugo once confessed. Indeed, this 19th-century French master's works -- from the epic drama Les Misérables to the classic unrequited love story The Hunchback of Notre Dame -- have spanned the ages, their themes of morality and redemption ever applicable to our times.

Biography

Novelist, poet, dramatist, essayist, politician, and leader of the French Romantic movement from 1830 on, Victor-Marie Hugo was born in Besançon, France, on February 26, 1802. Hugo's early childhood was turbulent: His father, Joseph-Léopold, traveled as a general in Napoléon 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 Adèle 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 Adèle 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, Adèle 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 Eugène went permanently insane following Victor's wedding to Adèle. His daughter, Léopoldine, 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 Napoléon III's coup d'état 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 Napoléon III in 1870. Meanwhile, the seclusion of the islands enabled Hugo to write some of his most famous verse as well as Les Misérables (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 Adèle 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 Panthéon, 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 Misérables.

The longest sentence ever written in literature is in Les Misérables; depending on the translation, it consists of about 800 words.

When Hugo published Les Misérables, 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:

"!"

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    1. Also Known As:
      Victor-Marie Hugo
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 26, 1802
    2. Place of Birth:
      Besançon, France
    1. Date of Death:
      May 22, 1885
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 255 )
Rating Distribution

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(100)

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(65)

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(41)

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(22)

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(27)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 255 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    What There Is in a Bottle of Ink

    The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is an exquisite novel written by Victor Hugo during the Romantic era. The original title of the book was "Notre-Dame de Paris", as it was written as a statement to preserve the Notre-Dame cathedral. This book was finished on January 14th, 1831, just as Victor Hugo was running out of ink. Because of this, he was greatly tempted to title the novel, "What There Is in a Bottle of Ink".

    At the time Hugo was writing, respect for the cathedral's Gothic architecture had been lost. Notre-Dame was collapsing precipitately, as the damage it had suffered during the French revolution was continuously ignored. Throughout the novel, Hugo strives to represent the cathedral of Notre-Dame as the cultural and political symbol of Paris, and accordingly, France. Upon the publishing of the novel, Parisians progressively came to see Notre-Dame as a national monument of France. Shortly after, a restoration program of the cathedral began.

    Hugo claims the inspiration towards writing this novel came after discovering a carved word on a wall inside the cathedral of Notre-Dame: "anake," or fate (in Greek). Consequently, this is a story of destiny and fate. The characters within the novel do not believe in free will, but in fate, a subduing destiny that eradicates the very prospect of escaping such guidance. The pitiful Pierre Gringoire believes that it was providence that led him to la Esmeralda; in turn, archdeacon Claude Frollo deems that he is fated to love her. The characters' intense belief that fate overcomes free will is epitomized during a captivating scene in which Frollo watches as a fly is ensnared in a spider web. Indisputably, Hugo's illustrious characters become entwined vividly in fate as they compliment an unaltered destiny themselves; passionate albeit melodramatic, they each transpire as unchanging victims of fate.

    These characters are intricate and profound. As the novel unfolds, it depicts the tragic romance between the crude Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers and an abused gipsy named la Esmeralda. Also enveloped within this story of love are the lustful archdeacon Frollo, the homeless and broke poet Pierre Gringoire, and the lonely hunchback, Quasimodo the bell ringer.

    Quasimodo, for example, is contrasting and elaborate; although he embodies innocence and naiveté, he is loathed by the citizens of Paris because of his deformation. And despite the fact that Notre-Dame's church bells are his greatest passion, he is also deaf. Much like Quasimodo, the abandoned cathedral was not cared for, and was considered to be a heinous architecture. In this sense, Quasimodo is an amalgamation that mirrors the cathedral's own architectural deformities.

    The antagonist, archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, is not a black-hearted person. As an orphan, he was like a father to his brother, Jehen, and even brought up the abandoned Quasimodo. Once an epitome of virtue, he becomes tormented by his corrupt love for a gipsy, and dehumanized as jealousy consumes him.

    Therefore, I am compelled to say that within a bottle of ink there resides a delicate story of love and tragedy that sincerely demonstrates the genuine power a pen may possess in order to revive a cathedral that embodies such splendor and passion.

    22 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    Don't dismiss it so quickly

    I fisrt wanted to read this book because I like comparing movies to books. I wanted to see how close the 1996 Disney movie was (there are similarities but there are also alot of differences). This book did take me a long time to read, but it was mostly the first part. As boring as i found the first part, it is nessiary; it sets up the story and the characters. Once I started the secound part, it really picked up. I found myself wanting to read it more and more. Don't give up because you find the beginning boring, it will get better.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    "Why am I not made of stone like you"

    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!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2011

    Explanations to the most common complaints...

    "It is so wordy/rambling!" Yes. In Hugo's time, authors were paid by the word. Besides, Hugo is infamous for being long-winded and for managing to use his ramblings to create atmospheres that are second to none. This novel is Hugo at his wordy best, the somber and melancholy mood is greater than any other I can think of. "There are too many French words!" Aside from street names and titles, which are indeed merely proper nouns, this complaint holds no merit and I can assure you that a reader who knows not even one syllable of French will not find the language to be a barrier to enjoying this beautiful novel. "So many Catholic refrences and I'm not Catholic!" This one always cracks me up. Notre Dame. Notre Dame! Consider it a lesson in Catholicism if necessary, but my being a non-Catholic never kept me from finding the religious refrences to be anything but informative about the structure of a faith that I otherwise know very littly about. Relax and don't be scared off by these silly complaints. The novel is beloved for a very good reason and if you give it a good try, your literary experiences will be immesurably enriched for having read this. Enjoy!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    "Alas! and you coldly see me weep? Child, do you know that those tears are burning lava? Is it then really true, -- in the man we hate, nothing moves us?" - Dom Cluade Frollo, Hunchback of Notre Dame

    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!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2010

    A great read!

    Story is well written, the characters are portrayed really well, just an all around good book to read and I would even recommend watching the 1939 movie with Charles Laughton and Maureen O' Hara

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Wow

    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.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    Anything Hugo writes is great

    Hugo's characters are more intensely obsessed that those found in any other literature. Their passion draws the reader into the book in a way that no exciting, suspensive plot can do. His plots are amazing too--logical without being predictable, complex without confusing the reader. I love this author. This is my favorite book of his.<BR/><BR/>I also recommend anything by Alexandre Dumas, especially The Man with the Iron Mask.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2008

    Masterfully made!

    Victor Hugo did a masterful job when he wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame! It is though his pen gave it the gift of life when he wrote it, causing the characters, scenery, emotions, and circumstances to spring to life. If you are one who enjoys a thrilling book with an ability to transport you to another place and time, then read this book. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a tragic story, yet it contains just the right amount of humor and shows the reader that any kind of person be it a priest, a soldier, or an ordinary civilian can be just as deformed and deranged as a hideous hunchback.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2003

    The Hunchbook of Notre Dame

    A couple of months ago, while sitting in my local library, I spied on the table next to me a discarded copy of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'. That title had always fascinated me as a child, for I had watched, in my younger years, all of the many remake movies of it, but I had never actually read the book. Spring break had just started so I decided to take the book home and begin my reading journey through the old, torn pages. And in the blink of an eye, I was transported to the bustling world of medieval Paris, richly described in breath-taking detail. I could see the detail, the outline, as you will, of this Paris of our ancestors, that concealed within it, a story of love, life, and adventure. I meet the hunchback, Quasimodo, who like the reader himself, observed this beautiful city world from the outside, secluded in the great bell tower of Notre Dame. Dom Claude, the jealous priest, whose heart rotted with a mixture of passionate love and loathing disgust, and Esmerelda, the beautiful gypsy girl, who lived in a harsh world of poverty and crime located in the dark alleys of the Paris streets, hidden from the world. These characters, so different in nature and background, whose lives interweaved with a mixture of spell-binding love, sickening hate, and the unique ideas and adventures of life in the streets of Medieval Paris.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Thinking of the film and movie

    I wonder if in the film if esmeralda hadnt seduced dom claude then he simply wouldnt have loved her so much! Put perry to see if you think im right;)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2013

    945

    &#945

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    Hunchback of Notre Dame

    This particular translation of the story is excellent. I first read this book when I was still in grade school. I loved it then & I loved it now. My daughter & I had the good fortune to spend 2 weeks in Paris not long ago. We made a bee-line to the Cathedral & savored exploring every nook & cranny both inside & out. We made the climb to the bell tower & we felt the spirit of Quasimodo all around us. (I made my daughter read the story when she was in high school).
    Victor Hugo is such a romantic. He does have a tendency to "go on" a bit, but I think it's important because he is so immersed in the story & characters so deeply. This should be required reading in all high schools. Victor Hugo is at the top of my list for favorite writers!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Dont buy it!!!

    This book is so confusing!! Victor just goes on and on about stupid c**p that is not even related to the story. I had trouble understanding what was going on! This is by far the worst book i have ever read!!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2012

    FINE!!!

    SHE RUNS!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2012

    This is now my favorite novel of all time...i love the humor, YES humor, and the tragedy and how well the tale is weaved together. Great translation!

    This is now my favorite novel of all time...i love the humor, YES humor, and the tragedy and how well the tale is weaved together. Great translation!

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  • Posted March 30, 2012

    I thought this work was very good in some aspects- the character

    I thought this work was very good in some aspects- the characters for example and the setting, as well as plot. But I found the descriptions of the city itself hard to understand (on a first reading level). The langauge I liked as well as how loveable Quaisomodo is and how dispicable Claudo can be at times. Pheobus I personally thought was an okay guy with his flaws and all. I felt that Esmerelda was the character was the most relateable from a female perspective- her naivete, beauty, history- I all found interesting and great to read as well as her story. In terms of length I would say the pages are well worth the read. Claudo is a great villian and his hipocrsy is alarming and the impact of his emotions on the whole city is enormous. I'd recommend this for anyone who likes medival settings, a lustful archdeacon, a naive young lady and an outcast who come together for their own goals in life and their journeys both physically and spiritually.

    I'd have to say after reading this and comparing it to the Disney Movie- the movie wasn't that far away from the actual truth but understandable why they edited out things.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    Classic

    Long, to be sure, but good. I was so saddened by the ending, but I guess I should have expected it. I read it when I was 12 so I didn't get much out of it. I was surprised and shocked sometimes

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2012

    It was quiet a book

    I really dont like tradgeties but i wil make an exception for this one. There are alot of lessons woven into this storie that really make a person think. It was a sad story but one that help me see people, architecture, art, and history in a whole new light. If you dont mind taking in a dramatic tale then this is a story that should be read to better understand culture and history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Hunchback of notre dame

    A very good book
    I loved the discribing of what was going on and what happed/will happen

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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