The book published in 1831 by the famous writer, indignant at the deterioration of the cathedral, saved the building from ruin.
The Parisian cathedral was struck on Monday 15th April, 2019 by a large fire , is also known throughout the world thanks to the masterpiece of Victor Hugo, “Notre-Dame de Paris”. This novel has been adapted many times to the cinema especially by Disney studios or musical comedy.
It is to save the monument, very degraded, that the indignant writer undertook, in 1831, the writing of this work.
In the chapter entitled “Notre-Dame”, Hugo writes: “Without doubt, it is still today a majestic and sublime edifice that the church of Notre-Dame de Paris”.
But, he adds, “so beautiful that it has been preserved as it ages, it is difficult not to sigh, not to be indignant at degradations, mutilations without number that simultaneously time and men have to the venerable monument, without respect for Charlemagne who laid the first stone, for Philip Augustus who had laid the last.
In the preface of his novel, Hugo complained openly about the fate “for two hundred years now with the marvellous churches of the Middle Ages”. “The mutilations come from all over, from within as from outside,” he lamented.
“The church itself may soon fade from the earth,” the writer prophesied.
A law to save the Cathedral
The publication of the book drew general attention to the “inadmissible” state of the monument.
The movement of opinion led to the decision to establish a competition in which many architects, including Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc, participated whose project of rehabilitation of the monument was retained in 1844.
In July 1845, a law was passed for the restoration of the cathedral.
The goal of Victor Hugo was finally achieved.
Did Hugo save Notre-Dame? Without a doubt. Since the publication of the masterpiece, everyone around the world dreams that the cathedral is haunted by the ghosts of Esmeralda, Quasimodo or Frollo.
In the note written by the novelist on the occasion of the publication of the definitive edition of his novel (1832), he took care to recall that his book was a cry against “the current decadence of architecture and on death. “.
Art of the Middle Ages
“Notre-Dame of Paris has perhaps opened some real perspectives on the art of the Middle Ages, on this marvellous art hitherto unknown to some, and what is worse, unknown to others,” wrote Hugo.
“But the author is far from considering as accomplished the task he has voluntarily imposed,” the writer continued. “He has already pleaded on more than one occasion the cause of our old architecture, he has already denounced aloud many profanations, many demolitions, many impieties. He will not get tired.