Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre-Dame tops bestseller list in France, while stocks run out in US

Telegraph Reporters
Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, in the wake of Monday's devastating fire - AFP

In the wake of the fire that devastated Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral, online sales of Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel Notre-Dame de Paris have soared.

The novel, known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, is now at the top of Amazon France’s bestseller list.

According to The Bookseller, there were four separate editions of the novel in the online store’s top 10 list; the Livre de Poche edition was at number one, with others at numbers three, four and 10.

The Penguin edition of Hugo’s novel is currently out of stock in Amazon’s US store as well. Several other books about the history of the cathedral have seen increases in sales.

Hugo’s novel, set in 1482, is the tragic love story of Quasimodo, a deformed bellringer at Notre-Dame, and a beautiful Egyptian gypsy, Esmeralda. It soon became one of the French language’s greatest works of literature.

Victor Hugo, in an 1876 woodburytype by Étienne Carjat

Its publication led to renewed public affection for the cathedral, which had been desecrated during the Revolution. In the following years, Notre-Dame was restored, and became the epicentre of French religious and cultural life once more.

As The Telegraph’s Eleanor Halls wrote this week, “if it hadn’t been for Victor Hugo… the building would never have survived.”

In the wake of Monday’s disaster, which destroyed the cathedral’s roof and iconic spire, and nearly led to the loss of the entire building, nearly €900 million (£780m) so far has been raised in pledges towards its reconstruction. 

Almost two centuries later, the BBC reports, Parisian booksellers are calling for the renewed profits from Hugo’s novel to be diverted as well, for the second great restoration of the cathedral.