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Note to the Reader

This volume is the fifth of a half dozen. Together, the six form The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity. The book as a whole probes one medieval story, its reception in culture from the Franco-Prussian War until today, and the placement of that reception within medieval revivalism as a larger phenomenon. The study has been designed to proceed largely in chronological order, but the progression across the centuries and decades is relieved by thematic chapters that deal with topics not restricted to any single time period.

This fifth installment, labeled “Tumbling through the Twentieth Century,” documents the explosion of interest in the story after the success of Massenet’s opera Le jongleur de Notre Dame in the early twentieth century. One manifestation of popularity comes to the fore in books, typescripts, and manuscripts. Another can be traced in performances, recordings, and films. A third category of evidence appears in the appropriation of the story by members of different faiths, especially but not solely as it is made into stock Christmas fare for theater, radio, television, and film.

The final volume will follows the story of the story from the Second World War down to the present day. The narrative was put to an astonishing range of uses during the war years. In the fifties and sixties, it experienced what turned out to be a last hurrah in both high culture and mass culture. Afterward, it became the occasional object of playfulness and parody before slipping into at least temporary oblivion.

The chapters are followed by endnotes. Rather than being numbered, these notes are keyed to the words and phrases in the text that are presented in a different color. After the endnotes come the bibliography and illustration credits. In each volume-by-volume index, the names of most people have lifespans, regnal dates, or at least death dates.

One comment on the title of the story is in order. In proper French, Notre-Dame has a hyphen when the phrase refers to a building, institution, or place. Notre Dame, without the mark, refers to the woman, the mother of Jesus. In my own prose, the title is given in the form Le jongleur de Notre Dame, but the last two words will be found hyphenated in quotations and bibliographic citations if the original is so punctuated.

All translations are my own, unless otherwise specified.