The devastating fire at Notre Dame has rekindled fresh interest in Victor Hugo's immortal classic -- The Hunchback of Notre-Dame -- as on Wednesday at least two different editions of the 19th-century novel were in the top two positions of France's online bestseller list. Hugo's magnum opus, set in Paris of 1482, tells the story of a beautiful gypsy girl Esmeralda, who enamours the heart of various men, and the half-blind and deaf bell-ringer of Notre Dame, the hunchback Quasimodo.
On Wednesday, different editions of the novel, originally published in 1831 occupied the first, second, fourth and seventh spots in Amazon France's bestseller list, while a book on the heritage of the over 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece took the 10th slot. Many scholars and critics have argued in the past that the iconic cathedral itself is also one of the protagonists in the book, which was authored partly to draw attention to the importance of the French capital's gothic architecture.
On Monday, days ahead of the World Heritage Day (April 18), an inferno ripped through the iconic Paris landmark destroying a large part of its roof and causing its central spire to collapse, leaving the world stunned. The novel, which went on to become a classic and spawned several editions over the years, also devotes portions talking about the cathedral and its condition.
Incidentally, Hugo had also described flames in his celebrated novel. "All eyes were raised to the top of the church. They beheld there an extraordinary sight. On the crest of the highest gallery, higher than the central rose window, there was a great flame rising between the two towers with whirlwinds of sparks, a vast, disordered, and furious flame, a tongue of which was borne into the smoke by the wind, from time-to-time," reads an excerpt from the classic.
"Below that fire, below the gloomy balustrade with its trefoils showing darkly against its glare, two spouts with monster throats were vomiting forth unceasingly that burning rain, whose silvery stream stood out against the shadows of the lower facade," it reads The cathedral is part of the World Heritage site officially known as "Paris, Banks of the Seine", inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991.
The famed gargoyles of the cathedral watching over the streets of Paris are some of the most enduring images of this landmark celebrated in Hugo's classic, which was adapted into a black and white film in 1939 and an animated version from Disney came out in 1996.