'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame' sales soar on Amazon

Victor Hugo's novel shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list on Tuesday as firefighters damped down the embers of the blaze which ravaged the cathedral.

The original French version of the Gothic novel 'Notre-Dame de Paris' became the fastest-selling book in France and is also a No. 1 bestseller worldwide in English in two sub-categories of historical fiction.

Disney's film version has also reached the family films top 10.

Back in 1831, Victor Hugo decided to write the book precisely to save the neglected and crumbling monument, describing the cathedral as a "majestic and sublime building" in the first chapter.

"Without a doubt, the church of Notre-Dame in Paris is still a majestic and sublime building. But no matter how beautifully it is preserved as it ages, it is difficult not to sigh and not to be appalled by the degradation, the atrocious mutilations that both time and men have brought upon the venerable monument, with no respect for Charlemagne, who laid the first stone, or by Philip Augustus, who laid the last," he wrote.

In this work, which is said to be Victor Hugo's greatest historical novel, the writer tells the story of the altruistic love of deformed bellringer Quasimodo for Gypsy street dancer Esmeralda. With a realistic style, especially in the descriptions of medieval Paris and its underworld, the plot is melodramatic and features many ironic twists.

According to the catalog of the Portuguese National Library, Victor Hugo's novel was first published in Portugal by Bertrand in 1832 - one year after the French edition - under the title 'Nossa Senhora de Paris' ('Our Lady of Paris').

Since then, there have been several Portuguese editions and translations, sometimes with the title 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' ('O Corcunda de Notre-Dame'), especially since 1996 - that is, since the debut of Disney's animated film.

The novel, an instant hit that made Victor Hugo the most famous writer in Europe back then, helped mobilize the mammoth renovation of the monument in the 19th century.

A passage from chapter four of the penultimate volume has been widely quoted by the media as a prophetic description of Monday's fire, which tore through the roof and then engulfed the central tower's pinnacle.

"All eyes were turned to the top of the church," Hugo wrote as if describing the millions of people who gathered along the banks of the Seine as the great 850-year-old structure burned.

Victor Hugo set his romantic story in 1482, during the reign of Louis XI, but much of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' is a reflection on the architecture of the building itself.

Many critics have argued that the cathedral is, in fact, the novel's central character.

In another famous passage from the novel, Victor Hugo bemoans how the medieval landmark at the heart of Paris has been left to crumble.

A tireless campaigner, Hugo - who many regard as the intellectual godfather of the European Union - lived to see the massive restoration of the cathedral, completed by architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

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