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The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Critique • Quotes

Hunchback of Notre-Dame first editionFrontispiece, first edition
By Victor Hugo
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

Original title
Notre-Dame de Paris

First published
1831, in the First Quarto

Literary form

Literature, Gothic horror

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 185,000 words

Notable lines

Three hundred and forty-eight years, six months, and nineteen days ago to-day, the Parisians awoke to the sound of all the bells in the triple circuit of the city, the university, and the town ringing a full peal.

— First line

Each wave of time lays down its alluvium on top, each race lays down its stratum, each individual brings his stone…. Time is the architect, the whole people the builder.


Besides, it is still the same today, the mouth of any scholar who pays compliments to another is a jar of honeyed venom.


"Utter not that name! Oh! miserable wretches that we are, ’tis that name which has ruined us! or, rather we have ruined each other by the inexplicable play of fate! you are suffering, are you not? you are cold; the night makes you blind, the dungeon envelops you; but perhaps you still have some light in the bottom of your soul, were it only your childish love for that empty man who played with your heart, while I bear the dungeon within me; within me there is winter, ice, despair; I have night in my soul."


In the form of printing, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, elusive, indestructible. It blends with the air. In the time of architecture, it became a mountain and took forceful possession of an age and a space. Now it becomes a flock of birds, scatters to the four winds and simultaneously occupies every point of air and space.


Among the grotesque personages sculptured on the wall, there was one to whom he was particularly attached, and with which he often seemed to exchange fraternal glances. Once the gypsy heard him saying to it,—
"Oh! why am not I of stone, like you!"


When they tried to detach the skeleton which he held in his embrace, he fell to dust.

— Last line


Critique • Quotes