Author(s): Victor Hugo
A tremendous, emotionally stirring tragedy, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame features one of literature's most striking creations Quasimodo, the hideously deformed bellringer of Notre-Dame de Paris during the turbulent final years of the fifteenth century. Rejected by all but the priest Claude Frollo, Quasimodo rescues the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, condemned for a crime she did not commit, and brings her to the sanctuary of the cathedral. But Frollo has been corrupted by his lust for the girl. Only Quasimodo can hope to save her.With an Afterword by John Grant.
Victor-Marie Hugo, the pivotal figure of the Romantic movement in France, involved equal mixtures of literature and politics. He was born in Besancon, France, in 1802. He began writing precociously in adolescence, and in 1819, at the tender age of 17, began a literary magazine, Conservateur Litteraire, The publication in 1831 of his novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame secured his widespread popularity. With the accession to the throne of Louis-Philippe, Hugo turned his hand to political verse, producing several books of poetry, and political drama; among his several plays of this period was The King's Fool (1832), which despite being initially banned was later adapted by Verdi to be the libretto for Rigoletto (1851). In 1848, following the revolution of that year, Hugo was elected to the Constituent Assembly as a deputy for Paris, and his politics moved steadily leftward. The establishment of the Second Empire under Napoleon III saw him flee into exile, first in Brussels (until 1852), then on the island of Jersey (until expelled in 1855) and finally on Guernsey, where he remained until 1871 despite the declaration in France of an amnesty in 1859. He completed Les Miserables (1872), an instant success not only in his native land but also, through immediate translations, on an international scale. The declaration of the Third Republic inspired Hugo to return to Paris, and he served briefly in 1871 as a deputy in National Assembly. But the deaths of his wife (1868) and two sons (1871, 1873) drained his energies and, although a national hero, he wrote little more of note. In 1883 Juliette Drouet, his mistress since the early 1830s, died, and two years later, in 1885, he followed her.