30-Day Book Challenge: Day 12 - A Book You Love But Hate At The Same Time

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Hapgood Translation, Unabridged) - Victor Hugo, Isabel F. Hapgood

Hmm...this one is difficult. I have a few guilty pleasures, yes. But the book this prompt best applies to is The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. I'm still reading it, but I think the sentiment will not change. When Hugo's good, he's good. Most notable examples being the psychology of the crowd, Quasimodo, and Frollo.


Then he climbs up on the soapbox to rave about how THEY RUINED EVERYTHING. ("Everything" being Gothic architecture.) No, I'm not exagerrating.


But another element I'm finding worse and worse with every visit is La Esmeralda. Yeah, yeah, male writers of olden times. But the thing is, I've read some of his French contemporaries and predecessors and none are quite this bad. (I'd even go as far to say they are relatively progressive.) The worst part is, there is this nagging feeling that it's not only the characters, but that Hugo is salivating too at the idea of an (miraculous) ingenue, somehow completely innocent despite her upbringing and surroundings, beautiful enough to make the loveliest young noblewomen jealous, unblemished despite harsh life, and the significance placed on her (extremely logic-defying) virginity is downright uncomfortable. She's also too stupid to live despite living among the criminals. Yeah right.