Notre-Dame of Paris was Hugo's first great novel; published in 1831, it has become the classic example of French romanticism - compelling, capricious and delightfully flamboyant. But in the tragic tale of Quasimodo, his hunchbaack hero, and around the stories of La Esmeralda and Frollo, the demented archdeacon, Victor Hugo weaves a plot as skillful and as subtle as it is sensational. Literally and symbolically dominant by the glorious Gothic architecture of Notre-Dame, the city of Paris in 1482 comes to life in this novel in a way which is uniquely and eduringly epic. The English reader will savour this fine translation by John Sturrock which captures both the Romantic quest for and Victor Hugo's achievement of completeness, comprehensiveness, greatness.
More commonly known as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Victor Hugo's Romantic novel of dark passions and unrequited love
In the vaulted Gothic towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral lives Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bellringer. Mocked and shunned for his appearance, he is pitied only by Esmerelda, a beautiful gypsy dancer to whom he becomes completely devoted. Esmerelda, however, has also attracted the attention of the sinister archdeacon Claude Frollo, and when she rejects his lecherous approaches, Frollo hatches a plot to destroy her, that only Quasimodo can prevent. Victor Hugo's sensational, evocative novel brings life to the medieval Paris he loved, and mourns its passing in one of the greatest historical romances of the nineteenth century.
John Sturrock's clear, contemporary translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing it as a passionate novel of ideas, written in defence of Gothic architecture and of a burgeoning democracy, and demonstrating that an ugly exterior can conceal moral beauty. This revised edition also includes further reading and a chronology of Hugo's life.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Victor Hugo (1802-85) was a forceful and prolific writer. He became a committed social democrat and during the Second Empire of Napoleon III was exiled from France, living in the Channel Islands. His body is now buried in the Pantheon.
John Sturrock has translated many Penguin Classics, including Proust. He has written on Jorge Luis Borges and Structuralism.