Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame: The Edifice

To day I want to talk about of the the largest complaints about Victor Hugo's writing style: his attention to detail. in this book he dedicates more then one entire chapter to he description of different parts of Paris.  From the Palace Royal to the Rat Hole, what Paris would look like from the top of Notre Dame in the 1400's to the smallest detail on the alter.  When asking one friend about what he thought about this attention to detail he admitted that he probably skipped those parts.  I understand why people find this as pointless and tedious yet I found it fascinating.

To me it seemed that with the attention to detail, what the Gothic structures looked like how the houses of Paris spilled over every wall that was built to serve all gave a hint that the narrator wasn't Hugo, but the city itself. The characters are no one special and who would really care about their deaths? they were not even worth remembering in a record of funerals or executions.  but the City remembered them.

Maybe it is my strange habit of feeling that the walls of a building (especially an old building) store memories. that some how all that has happened in a house lingers in some strange metaphysical way.

though there is one other thing that needs to be talked about.  one of the chapters is called This Will Kill That. and what he talks about here is that the printing press will kill the Edifice. in history any thought that was worth remembering was written in stone.  Architecture then became the mother and director of all the arts.  if the artist and the poet wanted to say anything that was important they had to become architects. yet when Gutenberg created the printing press suddenly all the arts were now free, they were not confined to stone but became birds which flew freely though the world.  no longer was the edifice necessary, and architecture is no longer the story of humanity, only functional peice of life.

this ends my thoughts on the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I hope you enjoyed them.  Next week we are going to change gears and talk about the Afterlife Series by Mur Lafferty, just book one heave.  I promise no Spoilers this time, but if you would like to give it a listen go here.  It's only 12 chapters long and each chapter is only 45 minuets. Plus she has just published it for kindle but you can get that at the link too.

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