In a shocking course of events, one of the world’s most historic landmarks - Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris – was ablaze on Monday. Notre Dame, a cathedral visited by around 13 million people a year, is located at the exact geographic centre of Paris. It is also the centre of the city’s soul. Built in the year 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII, Notre Dame is considered as the most famous Gothic Cathedral ever built. It took nearly 200 years for the labourers to complete it.
Notre Dame’s spire was currently undergoing renovations, but the Cathedral’s last major makeover was done more than 150 years ago. And it was partially inspired by writer Victor Hugo’s depiction of its deteriorating state in his 1831 novel, ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.’ The novel revolves around Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer of cathedral, who gets obsessed with the very beautiful, Esmeralda. However, the novel had much more to offer beyond a love story. With the Notre Dame being one of its highlights, Hugo penned two chapters just describing the cathedral.
Notre Dame Fire: When writer Victor Hugo used the cathedral as a backdrop in his 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame'
Set in the 1400s, a part of Hugo’s description read, “[I]t is difficult not to sigh, not to wax indignant, before the numberless degradations and mutilations which time and men have both caused the venerable monument to suffer." Considered as one of the most classic novels in today’s time, it was a massive success when it released because suddenly, people started showing their concerns on the worsening of Notre Dame. In 1841, the government of Paris formed a commission on Historical Monuments and assigned two architects to rebuild Notre Dame and bring it back its lost glory. So, it won’t be wrong to say that Hugo’s piece of work played a crucial part in saving the historical landmark back then.
Victor’s novel was later adapted into a number of films, including the popular animated Disney version, ‘The Hunchback of Norte Dame’ in the year 1996.