Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Joke

Watching the blaze at the Notre Dame Cathedral provides me an opportunity to relate a joke.

As we all know, in Victor Hugo's novel, Quasimodo, the hunchback and bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, 

fails to save Esmeralda and she is hanged. After Frollo is pushed by Quasimodo off off Notre Dame'roof, Quasimodo goes to the cemetery, hugs Esmeralda's body, and dies of starvation with her.* By the way, there was a hunchback at Notre Dame in real life but that was in the 1820s and he was a stonecarver, Mons. Trajan, "Le Bossu".

And the joke begins:

Notre Dame is left without a bellringer. A priest is ordered to search for one and places an advertisement in the local daily.

A day later, a candidate shows up but he lacks arms. The priest rejects him as unqualified but the man begs to be given an opportunity to prove his ability.

They ascend the bell tower and, using his head, the man displays remarkable physical abilities but the priest still feels he is not up to the job. Then, in an attempt to show how really loud he can ring it, he makes a mad dash from one end of the platform towards the bell, jumps at it, misses his object and falls out and down to his death.

The priest dashes down the steps and begins to apply the last rites. One man in the crowd that has gathered askes him, "Do you know this man?"

The priest answers in the negative and adds, "But his face rings a bell."

Still without a bellringer, the priest places yet another advert and the next day, the same man shows up. It turns out the deceased bellringer has a brother.

Shocked, the priest rejects him but when the man says that his brother had interviewed for the job to save the family from starvation, the priest relents and allows him to display his talents.

The scene from the previous day repeats itself and to the priest's horror, he, too, in an attempt to show his ability, misses the bell and falls to his death.

Again rishing down to apply the last rites, the priest is asked by another onlooker, "Father, do you know this man?"

The priest looks up and answers, "No, but he's a dead ringer for his brother."

-    -    -    -

Oh, and if you think this is not the time for a joke, consider this rendering of the burning of the Talmud in Paris

The smoke of the burning Talmud, however, rose in 1242 against a Gothic in full possession of its grand manner: the western façade of Notre-Dame of Paris. This tremendous sculpted wall—the most famous of postcard images—dates from 1200 to 1250, the classic instant of triumph. Flanking the central door stand two Queens, rivals across the centuries. The radiant figure on the left is the Church Victorious, crowned and imperial, and holding a chalice which is nothing less than the Holy Grail. The Queen on the right is posed in defeat, her staff broken in several places, her eyes covered by a coiling serpent, her signs of royalty removed or shattered. A reversed Tablet of the Law, falling from her hand, shows that she is the Synagogue. The statues at Paris are modern, the work of the 19th-century restorer. But at Strasbourg are two Queens in all their original beauty. The Church is magnificent. The Synagogue is amazing. We may stand before them for many hours, trying to decide which is the more lovely; and the decision will be purely a subjective matter of taste, as it should be; but as we look at the bandaged eyes of the captive Queen, and study the exquisite proportions of her broken staff, we shall not fail to realize the utter grace and majesty of her defeat.

As for Quasimodo’s mysterious disappearance, all that we have been able to ascertain on the subject is this:  About a year and a half or two years after the concluding events of this story, when search was being made in the pit of Montfaucon for the body of Olivier le Daim, who had been hanged two days before, and to whom Charles VIII granted the favour of being interred at Saint-Laurent in better company, there were found among these hideous carcases two skeletons, the one clasped in the arms of the other. One of these skeletons, which was that of a woman, had still about it some tattered remnants of a garment that had once been white, and about its neck was a string of beads together with a small silken bag ornamented with green glass, but open and empty. These objects had been of so little value that the executioner, doubtless, had scorned to take them. The other skeleton, which held this one in so close a clasp, was that of a man. It was observed that the spine was crooked, the skull compressed between the shoulder-blades, and that one leg was shorter than the other. There was no rupture of the vertebræ at the nape of the neck, from which it was evident that the man had not been hanged. He must, therefore, have come of himself and died there.   8
When they attempted to detach this skeleton from the one it was embracing, it fell to dust.

I heard this some 40 years ago and in a search found this.

BTW, the latest set of bells installed on its 850th anniversary


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