Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” skyrocketed to the top of Amazon France’s bestseller list on Tuesday after the iconic cathedral was engulfed in fire the day before.

The French landmark lost its spire to the flames, but city officials confirmed on Monday night that the main structure was “saved and preserved.”

Hugo’s book, which is called “Notre-Dame de Paris” in French, follows the tragic lives of the beautiful Esmeralda and the hunchbacked Quasimodo, the 20-year-old bell-ringer who loves her. The novel has been filmed multiple times, including an Academy Award-nominated Disney version in 1996.

Along with two iterations of the novel, the bestsellers list on Amazon France on Tuesday also included two books about the history and construction of the Gothic cathedral.


Given the severe damage just suffered by the actual Notre Dame ― about two-thirds of the building’s roof was destroyed ― it’s not surprising that French readers would lean into a work that celebrates the glory of the famed church.

The New York Times previously noted that sales of the French translation of Ernest Hemingway’s classic tale of Paris, “A Moveable Feast,” rose after the terrorist attacks of 2015. At least 129 people died in the attacks on popular restaurants, a soccer stadium and a concert hall around Paris.

Outside of buying the novel, many on social media are sharing snippets of Hugo’s words as a way of processing the Notre Dame tragedy:

“He therefore turned to mankind only with regret. His cathedral was enough for him. It was peopled with marble figures..The saints were his friends and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and kept watch over him.”― Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame #notredame

— 𝚋𝚕𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝚐𝚘𝚛𝚎 (@B1akeGore) April 16, 2019

"Time is the architect, the nation is the builder." — Victor Hugo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

— Roberto Reitenbach (@RobReitenbach) April 16, 2019

"Each face, each stone of the venerable monument, is a page not only of the history of the country, but of the history of science and art as well."– Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

— Johan Norberg (@johanknorberg) April 15, 2019

Spira, spera.(breathe, hope)- Victor Hugo, 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame'

— Regina Kenney (@Regina_Kenney) April 16, 2019

“The greatest products of architecture are less the works of individuals than of society; rather the offspring of a nation's effort, than the inspired flash of a man of genius…” ― Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) April 16, 2019 Download

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