I made on attempt on the mountain of Don Quixote and made it to page 400. I don’t intend to reach the summit, though I enjoyed the climb. It’s just a bit too repetitive and the joke starts to wear thin. Still it has a certain impressive monomania about it. The knight of the rueful countenance will not soon be forgotten, nor his squire Sancho Panza, nor his horse Rozinante, nor the radiant Dulcinea del Toboso. I turned from that to Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and finished it without difficulty. Apart from the wonderful (and wonderfully melodramatic) story, it abounds in scathing indictments of royalty, priests, scholars, and common folk. The zeal with which poor Esmeralda is hanged for being a witch is truly shocking. Obviously the author took a dim view of humanity, and it’s hard to disagree with him there. The chapter on architecture and the printing press is intellectually penetrating. The final image of the skeleton of Quasimodo entwined with that of the executed Esmeralda is marvellously sentimental.