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Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo,
1911, Reprint 1913 London J. M. Dent & Sons New York E.P. Dutton & Co
Hardcover 368 pages.
Measures 7x4.5 inches Weighs 11 ounces

Condition: Acceptable.
Red cloth boards are solid and clean. The spine top is torn, a closed tear, but a portion of the title is hanging, as well as an impressive opening from the spine to back cover cloth.
Former owner name in tight neat pen on ffe
Endpapers are decorated. Gutters and thread are showing in many places, but the pages are all solid and happy in the binding.
Pages are clean, text is small but crisp. Pages are off-white. 349 has a small open tear, a small chunk, missing from top right margin. Does not affect text.

Toilers of the Sea (French: Les Travailleurs de la mer) is a novel by Victor Hugo published in 1866. The book is dedicated to the island of Guernsey, where Hugo spent 15 years in exile.[1] Hugo uses the setting of a small island community to transmute seemingly mundane events into drama of the highest calibre. Les Travailleurs de la Mer is set just after the Napoleonic Wars and deals with the impact of the Industrial Revolution upon the island.[2]

The story concerns a Guernseyman named Gilliatt, a social outcast who falls in love with Deruchette, the niece of a local shipowner, Mess Lethierry. When Lethierry's ship is wrecked on the Roches Douvres, a perilous reef, Deruchette promises to marry whoever can salvage the ship's steam engine. Gilliatt eagerly volunteers, and the story follows his physical trials and tribulations (which include a battle with an octopus), as well as the undeserved opprobrium of his neighbors.

VICTOR HUGO was thinking much of iEschylus and his Prome­
theus at the time he conceived the figure of Gilliatt, heroic
warrer with the elements. But it is to a creature of the
Gothic mind like Byron's Manfred, and not to any earlier, or
classic, type of the eternal rebellion against fate or time or
circumstance, that^Hugo's readers will be tempted to turn for
the fellow to his Guernsey hero:
" My joy was in the wilderness—to breathe
The difficult air of the iced mountain's top,
Where the birds dare not build—nor insects wing
Flit o'er the herbless granite; or to plunge
Into the torrent, and to roll along
On the swift whirl of the new-breaking wave
Of river-stream, or ocean, in their flow."
The island of Guernsey was Gilliatt's Alp and sea-solitude,
where he, too, had his avalanches waiting to fall " like foam
from the round ocean of old Hell/' And as Byron figured his
own revolt against the bonds in Manfred, so Hugo, being in
exile, put himself with lyrical and rhetorical impetuosity into
the island marcou and child of destiny that he concocted
with " a little sand and a little blood and a deal of fantasy " in
the years 1864 and 1865. There is a familiar glimpse of the
Hugo household to be had in the first winter of its trans­
ference to the Channel Islands, years before Les Travailleurs
was written, which betrays the mood from which finally sprang
this concrete fable of the man-at-odds. It was the end of
November 1852, and a father and his younger son sat in a
room of a house of Marine Terrace, Jersey—a plain, un-
picturesque house; square, hard in outline, and newly white­
washed,—Methodism, said Hugo, in stones and mortar.
Outside its windows the rain fell and the wind blew: the
house was like a thing benumbed by the angry noise. The
two inmates sat plunged in thought, possibly thinking of the
sad significance of these beginnings of winter and of exile
which had arrived together. At length the son (Francois

Toilers of the Sea Victor Hugo, 1911/1913, Fiction Seafaring Island Romance Struggle Drama Industrial Revolution Antique Book


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  • Vintage item from the 1910s
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