The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Book 7 | Impressions

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Alright, I think I’m finally a Hugo fan. I’m still hesitant, waiting for my expectations to crash and burn again, but I think it’s finally happened. Now that we’re in the thick of the book, his writing is compelling, insightful, and acute. His tangents are far less flowery and actually reveal critical insights into the zeitgeist of 14th century Paris.

My only immediate critique is that he is still quite verbose. I did say he is less flowery, which he is. By “flowery,” I simply mean that he doesn’t extend into unnecessary description. He still remains as wordy as ever though. He loves to show off his knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, as well as his flair for words that are over five syllables. However, I don’t want to put too much stock into this observation. I probably just have a poor translation of the book. Perhaps in French his word choice is actually quite concise. So, I will stop beating him up for this and instead will place the blame on the translator, Walter J. Cobb.

Book 7 was everything French literature promises. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife. Plus, it had all the scandal of the Church. Yet, at the same time, his narrative remained unique and interesting. It wasn’t an “Oh, these French sex fiends again!” moment. He took what is inherently French, made considerable observations about these attributes, and spun the themes in a fresh way. It seems quite impressive at the moment. Given, I haven’t read much French literature, nor have I truly had time to explore and analyze the text. Still, I praise Hugo for his mastery of this prose. Bravo! I am eager to read on.

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