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Book Title: 巴黎圣母院 (书立方•著库)|
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The author of the book: Victor Hugo
Date of issue: January 1st 2012
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Format files: PDF
The size of the: 2.30 MB
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I recently read Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris for the first time, and was delighted and moved by the experience. Although it lacks the depth and humanity of Les Miserables, it possesses a grandeur of architectonic structure and an Olympian compassion all its own. Best of all, it gives us one of literature's most loving and detailed depictions of a city, rivaled only by Joyce's Dublin in Ulysses.
It is a shame that this book is so seldom referred to in English by its given name, for it is about more than the history of one hunchback, however moving that history may be. First of all, it is about the great cathedral that dominates and defines the city, the setting for much of the novel's action and most of its crucial events. It is also about the “genius loci” of Paris, the maternal spirit that offers sanctuary and support to its most unfortunate children,many of them literally orphans (Gringoire, Quasimodo, Esmeralda, the Frollos), be they ugly or beautiful, virtuous or evil, bringing a measure of comfort to their difficult and and often tragic lives.
Hugo's novel had been on my lengthy “must read” list for years, but what finally moved it to the top was my growing fascination with cities in literature. In childhood, my favorite Arabian Night's tales were the ones that took place in Baghdad, and from early adolescence I loved Sherlock Holmes' London, D'Artagnan's Paris and Nero Wolfe's New York. I also began to appreciate more fantastic cities, such Stevenson and Machen's London and Leiber's Lankhmar.
Soon I fell in love with the hard boiled detective genre and—having been a childhood fan of Arthurian romances—identified with each of these modern knight-errants on a quest. I also realized that the individuality of each city—and the private detective's familiarity with it and his relation to it--was an essential part of the genre's charm. Even the most realistic of private eye cities—Robert B. Parker's Boston, for example—were filled with as many marvels as any Arthurian Romance: instead of a sorceress, one might meet a sexy widow; instead of a liveried dwarf, a mysterious butler; and instead of a disguised knight offering a cryptic challenge one might be offered a tailing job by a Beacon Hill Brahmin with a mask of smiles and hidden motivations. The world of the marvelous had been transported from the isolated castles, woods and meadows of England's “green and pleasant land” to the magnificent townhouses and seedy alleys of an urban environment. How had this occurred, and what were the literary antecedents?
I believe that Notre Dame de Paris in 1831 is the point where this all begins. Hugo took a shoot of the delicate gothic already in decline, grafted it to the hearty root of the city (or--more precisely--to a Gothic cathedral in the center of a great city, where it was most likely to flourish), watered it from the oasis of Arabian marvels (dangerous hunchback, guild of thieves, beautiful dancing girl), and cultivated the resulting growth with the historical method of Sir Walter Scott. Thus the urban romance was born.
This was just the start, of course. Another decade of industrialism and population growth would make the great European cities seem even more like ancient Baghdad. Dickens would make the thieves guild central to the sinister London of Oliver Twist and Eugene Sue's exploration of urban vices in The Mysteries of Paris (1841) would soon be successfully imitated--commercially if not artistically—by England's Reynolds in The Mysteries of London and America's Lippard in The Quaker City, or The Monks of Monk's Hall.”
A little late the detective arrived in the gothic city (Poe's DuPont, Gaboriau's Lecoq, Conan Doyle's Holmes) and soon the marvelous and fantastic were re-introduced (Stevenson's New Arabian Nights, Machen's The Three Imposters) as well, fully preparing the urban landscape for the writers of the 20th century to construct their cities of romance in the worlds of detection and fantasy.
Hugo tells us that the bones of Quasimodo and Esmeralda have long ago turned to dust, but the marvelous city of crimes and dreams continues to live on.
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Read information about the authorVictor Hugo, in full Victor-Marie Hugo (b. February 26, 1802, Besançon, France – d. May 22, 1885, Paris, France), poet, playwrighter, novelist, dramatist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights campaigner, and perhaps the most influential exponent of the Romantic movement in France, who was the most important of the French Romantic writers. Though regarded in France as one of that country’s greatest poets, he is better known abroad for such novels as Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) and Les Misérables (1862).
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