Victor Hugo has been one of my favourite authors ever since I read his Les Misérables a couple of decades ago. I remember the twists and the turns in his tale, and my gasps and biting of the nails with each new plot. It was this one big tale, with so many plots, each converging at some point. It seemed like a saga, and I fell in love with this novel and his writing style.
And, after two decades, I decided to give a go to his Hunchback of Notre Dame. The inimitable style of writing was intact. The work is scholarly, with such details of the architecture and the insight into the shifting of architectural styles – Gothic, Romanesque, and all the other styles around the world at the time. His concerns that the printing medium will kill the architecture and his detailing of Paris and its three divisions make you marvel at his erudition and research of the subject. The tale is steeped in tragedy and ends in tragedy, tugging all the heartstrings. However, my limited vision, and love for a good story told made me repetitively compare his two works.
My love for his greatest work ever (Les Misérables) made me thank my good fortune for having read it first. I have been a Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens fan, and reading Victor Hugo was accidental. Les Misérables made me realise that there is world outside Hardy and Dickens. My experiment with different authors has not stopped in three decades. Consuming different styles make you realise that all authors, through their various creations, are searching for that one inspiration, that one masterpiece. Les Misérables was Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, and Hunchback of Notre Dame could not capture my imagination to the same degree.
||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||