Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list Tuesday as firefighters damped down the embers of the blaze which ravaged the ancient cathedral. The original French version of the gothic novel, “Notre-Dame de Paris”, became the fastest selling book in France and is also a number one bestseller worldwide in English in two sub-categories of historical fiction. The Disney animated movie version of the story also rocketed into the top 10 of family films. When Hugo began his sprawling 11-volume tale in 1829, Notre Dame — the “majestic and sublime edifice” which he adored — was crumbling and neglected. But his epic about the tragic fate of the Gypsy girl Esmeralda who captures the heart of Captain Phoebus, the poet Pierre Gringoire, Archdeacon Frollo — and most of all the hunchback Quasimodo — helped mobilise the mammoth 19th-century restoration of the monument. One passage, from chapter four of the penultimate volume of the novel, was widely quoted on social media as a prophetic description of Monday’s fire, which tore through its roof, sending its spire crashing down into the nave. “All eyes were turned to the top of the church,” Hugo wrote as… Read full this story
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