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"Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"? 
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Post "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
Obviously Victor Hugo’s best known novels are “Les Miserables” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, yet it seems like the former has more fans and recognition than the latter. This is surprising because they both have social outcast protagonists (Valjean and Quasimodo), epic battles throughout, corrupt public official villains (Javert and Frollo), and female allies with jaded pasts (Fantine and Esmerelda). Given these similarities, why is “Les Mis” more beloved than “Hunchback”?

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Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:02 pm
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Post Re: "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
Basically... the musical. 25-30 years ago*, Hunchback was a fairly well-known story with a lot of movie adaptations of familiarity but little note, and Les Mis was relatively obscure, largely due to its complex storyline. It wasn't until the musical that the current situation happened.


*To most Americans. YMMV

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Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:45 am
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Post Re: "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
That's what I was going to say, too.

Les Mis has a musical adaptation that's nothing short of a phenomenon.

Notre Dame, musical-wise, has only a controversial Disney movie, a little-known German stage adaptation thereof, and a French rock opera that never took off the way Les Mis did.


Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:40 am
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Post Re: "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
I think it is because the story of Notre Dame is less epic than Les Mis and reads more like a melodrama. I love Notre Dame a lot, but most adaptations have completely missed the point of the story, which is what happens when you turn Quasimodo into the protagonist. Both Frollo (into whose head we get the most insight) and Esmeralda (around whom most of the attentions are centered) are much better candidates. The stories are really not at all similar.


Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:41 am
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Post Re: "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
And I'll tell a little story to illustrate my point. I was (along with the rest of my 10th-grade English class) assigned to read Les Misérables overSpring break, so this would have been like April 1986, about 8 months before the musical hit the US. I accidentally left my copy of the book in my locker in the building which got locked, so I hit the in-town bookstore (we had one), but no luck. So I went to the library. Where I found one copy -- the abridged version. In French.

My French skills got a LOT better that Spring.

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Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:08 am
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Post Re: "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
Wow. What a contrast to today, where every Barnes and Noble has three to five copies on the shelf at any given time, even small bookstores usually have one copy, and most libraries seem to have two or three translations! Is it essentially just the musical that we have to thank for that?


Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:20 am
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Young Hoofer
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Post Re: "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
Actually I would argue Hunchback (or to be exact we should call it Notre Dame de Paris as Hugo hated the revised title) is still more popular than Les Miserables, at least when it comes to books. I would also say that Quasimodo and Esmeralda are more well known than Valjean and Javert. The only evidence I have is from my own observations.


Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:32 pm
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Post Re: "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
Vanessa20 wrote:
Wow. What a contrast to today, where every Barnes and Noble has three to five copies on the shelf at any given time, even small bookstores usually have one copy, and most libraries seem to have two or three translations! Is it essentially just the musical that we have to thank for that?


I would probably say the movie to be honest.


Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:33 pm
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Post Re: "Les Miserables" vs. "Hunchback of Notre Dame"?
It's helped, but the difference from pre-musical to musical was a lot bigger than pre-movie to movie, accounting for the transient movie release bump.

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Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:52 am
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