Hunchback reconsidered

While Matt was away at scout camp, I got an invite to a shindig with the girls.  Aaah… good girlfriends, coconut cream, and a free sister-in-law babysitter all in one night.  Now that is bliss.

 

I saw most of those women again this week as we gathered for a meeting of our pretigious book club (so prestigious members are encouraged to attend even if we haven’t read the book), where we were to discuss the aforementioned Hunchback of Notre Dame.   I pretty much went for dessert, and to commisserate.  I imagined us saying things like:  “Hugo certainly couldn’t have been happy,” and “Aren’t we lucky none of us see the world from such a dark perspective?” and “Does he find no redeeming quality in mankind, not believe in the dynamic character?”  

 

Only it didn’t work so much that way because they.  Liked it!  They raved about it!  There was praise for Hugo’s characterization:  the gentility and kindness of the disfigured Quasimodo, his faithful, unrequited love for Esmeralda.   It was clear they had read with different eyes than mine.  It wasn’t long, though, before I stopped wrinkling my nose with disdain, and listened.  Here’s why: 

Two funny women sitting near me joked that they had never done anything like chasing after some charming, good-looking boy who could care less for them- me either, of course.   Had I been so busy being annoyed by the damssel’s stupidity, I had missed the mote in my own eye?

We considered Frolo’s plight, how this archdeaconcharged with the spiritual welfare of so many had come to be in such a state of tortured lust.  Aren’t we all capable of succumbing to some vice or another?  What might be our own “Esmereldas?”  What about those touching pages detailing such affection for Quasimodo’s beloved cathedral, his sanctuary?    

 

Later, we considered Hugo’s discussion of architecture lost to press, and the similarity of his arguments to those who say that print is dying as internet invades, that language falters as we communicate through instant media like text messaging and facebook chat.

 

I listened as these women made me think in such a chill way that that I never felt less-than, except maybe just a little on the way home.

Because they were brilliant.

Perhaps I was rash.

Perhaps a dynamic character can be found from reading Hunchback.  Perhaps that night, it was me.

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