Quasimodo Was Real




It appears Rena Easton tried to use me to send a message to her ex-husband who might have taken out a stalking order against her, and thus can not communicate with him directly. Not once does Rena say anything nice about me in her letter.
There is no reminiscence. She does not use the term girlfriend. Nor does she speak about the time I rescued her. It would have been profound to get her version. But, Rena had a hidden agenda from the get, something she accused me of owning.

For the sake of my book, and because I have so much invested in my muse as I once knew her, I will continue to be inspired by the beautiful image I tried to capture forty-four years ago.

I have been abandoned by my family and several friends, including my muse, and like Quasimodo, I am up in the bell tower of the cathedral. For fifteen years all I’ve wanted to do, is work on my study. For some reason I have become the a mirror unto people who might have gotten a glimpse of the monster lurking in themselves, and are relieved when they behold my grotesque isolation.

I own one excellent eye for beauty – beyond compare! I am a artist! I see that Esmeralda is French Bohemian. The French poster above could be a Rosamond – and the dancer – Rena Easton. Add to this the fact Christine Rosamond’s grandfather, Victor Hugo Presco, was a Bohemian, then one can not help but see the parallels and the continuation of one of the greatest stories of all time. The Beautiful and Free Gypsy Rose being persecuted by the old pedagogy is exactly the book the fans of Rosamond wanted to read. Instead they read about how cruel Rosemary was.

When people would ask if I sired a child, I would say I suspect I have a daughter, but, she was kidnapped by Gypsies.

Jon Presco

The lead character in an early version of the novel is named as “Jean Trejean” which Hugo later changed to “Jean Valjean”.

As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame is the parish that contains the cathedra, or official chair, of the archbishop of Paris, currently Cardinal André Vingt-Trois.[3] The cathedral treasury is notable for its reliquary which houses some of Catholicism’s most important first-class relics including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.

The term Bohemianism emerged in France in the early nineteenth century when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class, gypsy neighborhoods. Bohémien was a common term for the Romani people of France, who had reached Western Europe via Bohemia.[4]

Esmeralda’s birth-name was Agnes. She is the illegitimate daughter of Paquette Guybertaut, nicknamed ‘la Chantefleurie’, an orphaned minstrel’s daughter who lives in Rheims. Paquette has become a prostitute after being seduced by a young nobleman, and lives a miserable life in poverty and loneliness. Agnes’s birth makes Paquette happy once more, and she lavishes attention and care upon her adored child: even the neighbours begin to forgive Paquette for her past behaviour when they watch the pair. Tragedy strikes, however, when Gypsies kidnap the young baby, leaving a hideously deformed child (the infant Quasimodo) in place. The townsfolk come to the conclusion that the Gypsies have cannibalised baby Agnes; the mother flees Reims in despair, and the Gypsy child is exorcised and sent to Paris, to be left on the foundling bed at Notre-Dame.



Was Victor Hugo’s fictional character of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo, in his novel Notre Dame de Paris, based on a real-life operative Mason? Documents from a 19th century English sculptor named Henry Sibson and recently discovered and donated to the Tate Museum reveal a heretofore unknown hunchbacked sculptor who worked on Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral around 1828 when Hugo was first writing his novel.

From the Telegraph.uk article Real-life Quasimodo uncovered in Tate archives by Roya Nikkhah:

Clues suggesting that Quasimodo is based on a historical figure have been uncovered in the memoirs of Henry Sibson, a 19th-century British sculptor who was employed at the cathedral at around the time the book was written and who describes a hunched back stonemason also working there.

The documents were acquired by the Tate Archive in 1999 after they were discovered in the attic of a house in Penzance, Cornwall, as the owner prepared to move out.

However, the references to a “hunchback sculptor” working at Notre Dame have only just been discovered, as the memoirs are catalogued ahead of the archive’s 40th anniversary this year.

The seven-volume memoirs document Sibson’s time in Paris during the 1820s, when he was employed by contractors to work on repairs to Notre Dame Cathedral.

In one entry, he writes: “the [French] government had given orders for the repairing of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and it was now in progress … I applied at the Government studios, where they were executing the large figures [for Notre Dame] and here I met with a Mons. Trajan, a most worthy, fatherly and amiable man as ever existed – he was the carver under the Government sculptor whose name I forget as I had no intercourse with him, all that I know is that he was humpbacked and he did not like to mix with carvers.”

In a later entry, Sibson writes about working with the same group of sculptors on another project outside Paris, where he again mentions the reclusive government sculptor, this time recalling his name as “Mon. Le Bossu”. Le Bossu is French for “the hunchback”.

He writes: “Mon Le Bossu (the Hunchback) a nickname given to him and I scarcely ever heard any other … the Chief of the gang for there were a number of us, M. Le Bossu was pleased to tell Mon Trajan that he must be sure to take the little Englishman.”

Adrian Glew, the Tate archivist, who made the discovery, said: “When I saw the references to the humpbacked sculptor at Notre Dame, and saw that the dates matched the time of Hugo’s interest in the Cathedral, the hairs on the back of my neck rose and I thought I should look into it.”

Hugo began writing The Hunch Back of Notre Dame in 1828 and the book was published three years later. He had a strong interest in the restoration of the cathedral, with architecture featuring as a major theme in the book.

Hugo publicly opposed the original neoclassical scheme for Notre Dame’s restoration led by the architect Etienne-Hippolyte Godde – the same scheme which Sibson describes Le Bossu and Trajan working on – favouring a more Gothic style for the cathedral.

The publication of The Hunch Back of Notre Dame in 1831, which made Hugo one of France’s most acclaimed authors, is widely credited with prompting the Gothic restoration of the cathedral in 1844, designed by the architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, which Hugo had championed.

His close links with the cathedral make it likely that he would have known Le Bossu and Trajan, and further research undertaken by Mr Glew in the national archives of France has uncovered additional links between Hugo and the characters described by Sibson.

The Almanach de Paris from 1833 – which gives a list of all professionals working in the city – names a sculptor “Trajin” as living in Saint Germain-des-Pres, where Hugo also lived at the time.

An early draft of Les Misérables, another of Hugo’s acclaimed novels, holds another clue indicating that Hugo drew on the Government sculptors described by Sibson for inspiration.

The lead character in an early version of the novel is named as “Jean Trejean” which Hugo later changed to “Jean Valjean”.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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