The Hunchback of Notre Dame Audible – Free Audiobook
These Greek capitals, black with age, and quite deeply graven in
the stone, with I know not what signs peculiar to Gothic caligraphy
imprinted upon their forms and upon their attitudes, as though with the
purpose of revealing that it had been a hand of the Middle Ages which
had inscribed them there, and especially the fatal and melancholy
meaning contained in them, struck the author deeply.
He questioned himself; he sought to divine who could have been that soul
in torment which had not been willing to quit this world without leaving
this stigma of crime or unhappiness upon the brow of the ancient church.
Afterwards, the wall was whitewashed or scraped down, I know not which,
and the inscription disappeared. For it is thus that people have been in
the habit of proceeding with the marvellous churches of the Middle Ages
for the last two hundred years. Mutilations come to them from every
quarter, from within as well as from without. The priest whitewashes
them, the archdeacon scrapes them down; then the populace arrives and
Thus, with the exception of the fragile memory which the author of this
book here consecrates to it, there remains to-day nothing whatever
of the mysterious word engraved within the gloomy tower of
Notre-Dame,–nothing of the destiny which it so sadly summed up. The
man who wrote that word upon the wall disappeared from the midst of the
generations of man many centuries ago; the word, in its turn, has been
effaced from the wall of the church; the church will, perhaps, itself
soon disappear from the face of the earth.
It is upon this word that this book is founded.