Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” is the bestselling book on Amazon France as of Tuesday afternoon following the cathedral’s devastating fire on Monday.
The book, known as “Notre-Dame de Paris” in French, chronicles the lives of Esmeralda, a young French Roma girl, and the cathedral’s bell-ringer, Quasimodo. It was published in 1831, and was written by Hugo to promote the value of Gothic architecture, which had by that point been largely neglected. This version and two others have become bestsellers on Amazon France following a severe fire that destroyed Notre Dame’s iconic spire.
According to The Washington Post, by the time Hugo wrote his novel, the cathedral had fallen into disrepair. Its iconic stained glass had been replaced with clear glass and a pillar had been demolished to make room for passing carriages. He set the novel in the 1400’s, and devoted two chapters to describing the cathedral.
He wrote, “it is difficult not to sigh, not to wax indignant, before the numberless degradations and mutilations which time and men have both caused the venerable monument to suffer.”
In response to the novel’s immediate popularity, the city formed the Commission on Historical Monuments, and in 1841 two architects were assigned to revitalize Notre Dame.
“Notre Dame of Paris is our history,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, after the fire was extinguished. “The epicenter of our lives. It’s the many books, the paintings, those that belong to all French men and French women, even those who’ve never come.”
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