To the Edition of 1832

To The Edition of 1832

The announcement that this edition was furnished with several fresh chapters was incorrect; they should have been described as hitherto unpublished. For, if by fresh one understands newly written, then the chapters added to this edition are not fresh ones. They were written at the same time as the rest of the work; they date from the same period, were engendered by the same thought, and from the first formed part of the manuscript of Notre-Dame de Paris. Moreover, the author cannot imagine adding new developments to a work of this nature, the thing being once finished and done with. That cannot be done at will. To his idea, a novel is, in a sense, necessarily born with all its chapters complete, a drama with all its scenes. Do not let us think there is anything arbitrary in the particular number of parts which go to make up that whole—that mysterious microcosm which we call a novel or a drama. Neither joins nor patches are ever effectual in such a work, which ought to be fashioned in a single piece, and so be left, as best may be. The thing once done, listen to no second thoughts; attempt no touchings up of the book once given to the world, its sex, virile or otherwise, once recognised and acknowledged; the child, having once uttered its first cry, is born, is fashioned in that way and no other; father or mother are powerless to alter it, it belongs to the air and the sun; let it live or die as it is. Is your book a failure? Tant pis, but do not add chapters to those which have already failed. Is it defective?—it should have been completed before birth. Your tree is gnarled? You will not straighten it out. Your novel phthisical, not viable? You will never give it the life that is lacking to it. Your drama is born lame? Believe me, it is futile to supply it with a wooden leg.

The author is therefore particularly anxious that the public should know that the interpolated chapters were not written expressly for this new edition. They were not included in the previous editions for a very simple reason. When Notre-Dame de Paris was being printed the first time, the packet of manuscript containing these chapters went astray, so that they would either have had to be rewritten or omitted. The author considered that the only chapters of real import were the two dealing specially with art and history, but that their omission would in no way disturb the course of the drama; and that the public being unconscious of their absence, he alone would be in the secret of this hiatus. He decided then for the omission, not only for the above reason, but because, it must be confessed, his indolence shrank affrighted from the task of rewriting the lost chapters. Rather would he have written a new book altogether.

Meanwhile, these chapters have reappeared, and the author seizes the first opportunity to restore them to their proper place, thus presenting his work complete—such as he imagined it, well or ill, lasting or perishable; but in the form he desired it to have.

Paris, October 20, 1832.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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