Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Real Life Hunch

Most everyone remembers Victor Hugo’s classic horror novel “The Hunch Back of Notre Dame”, the story of a deaf, disfigured bell-ringer in Paris’ most famous cathedral who stalks, rapes, and murders a fiendish gypsy girl named Esmeralda. If not the novel, then you might remember the animated Disney adaptation, in which Quasimodo commits his heinous deeds with the help of several singing animals. Either way, it’s a terrible tale, and the only thing in which our children may find some nightly respite is the promise that these nightmarish characters were simply the fictional illusions of Hugo’s syphilitic mind. Well, bad news, light sleepers. It looks like Quasimodo may have been based on an actual person. Newly discovered memoirs written by a British sculptor hired to work at Notre Dame during the time Hugo would have been writing his novel make numerous references to a stone carver called “Le Bossu”, French for “hunchback”. No word yet on how many gypsy girls this monster raped and murdered, but the diaries do suggest that the man was a bit of an antisocial type. This may be because he was constantly reminded of his irreversible disfigurement via cruel nicknames, but it’s also possible he was simply a lunatic. Anyway, the moral of the story is this: shun the abnormal. More details here.