French Language Blog

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame Posted by on Dec 18, 2020 in Culture, Vocabulary

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – Notre-Dame de Paris

Bonjour tout le monde! 

One of my favorite passe-temps1hobbies during l’hiver2winter is me mettre à l’aise3to cozy up, get comfortable and reading a captivating book. Even better when that book is in French and I get to practice, and faire d’une pierre deux coups.4to kill two birds with one stone

I am sure the majority of you are familiar with the story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, especially thanks to the Disney animated film from 1996. But did you know that it was based on a story called Notre-Dame de Paris5Our Lady of Paris by the prolific French author Victor Hugo?

After the Napoleonic Wars, the medieval cathedral was in such a state of délabrement6disrepair that demolition was considered. In order to save the cathedral and bring awareness to the importance of preserving the Gothic architecture of Paris, Hugo wrote the dark story of Quasimodo, le carillonneur7the bellringer of the cathedral.

Thankfully, the plan was a success. The story became so popular that the cathedral was restaurée8restored and Hugo remained a vocal advocate for the conservation of Paris’ medieval buildings. Even today, France still remains steadfast in the protection and preservation of the original structure. Despite the devastating fire in 2019, the government has since enacted a law rejecting any idea of ‘modernizing’ the design and instead promising to restore it to its original beauty. Merci à Dieu! 

Image from pixabay, CCO.

Heureusement9luckily Hugo’s original story is now found on the public domain, meaning you can read it from the comfort of your home during winter gratuitement10for free! Just follow this link here to the Project Gutenberg site, and enjoy the rich description of the well known church in the middle of Paris.

I will close with a quote from le livre troisième, Notre-Dame:

Sans doute, c’est encore aujourd’hui un majestueux et sublime édifice que l’église de Notre-Dame de Paris. Mais, si belle qu’elle se soit conservée en vieillissant, il est difficile de ne pas soupirer, de ne pas s’indigner devant les dégradations, les mutilations sans nombre que simultanément le temps et les hommes ont fait subir au vénérable monument, sans respect pour Charlemagne qui en avait posé la première pierre, pour Philippe-Auguste qui en avait posé la dernière.

Sur la face de cette vieille reine de nos cathédrales, à côté d’une ride on trouve toujours une cicatrice. Tempus edax, homo edacior. Ce que je traduirais volontiers ainsi: le temps est aveugle, l’homme est stupide.

Without doubt, the Church of Notre-Dame of Paris is still today a majestic and sublime edifice. But, however beautiful it has been preserved as it ages, it is difficult not to sigh, not to be indignant at the degradations, the countless mutilations that time and men have simultaneously subjected to the venerable monument, without respect for Charlemagne who had laid the first stone, for Philippe-Auguste who had laid the last.

On the face of this old queen of our cathedrals, next to a wrinkle there is always a scar. Tempus edax, homo edacior. Which I would gladly translate as follows: time is blind, man is stupid.

Il ne mâchait pas ses mots. He didn’t mince words.

Bonne lecture!11Happy reading! 

  • 1
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    to cozy up, get comfortable
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    to kill two birds with one stone
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    Our Lady of Paris
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    the bellringer
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    for free
  • 11
    Happy reading!
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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.