Anew translation by Scot James Hogarth for the first unabridged English edition of the novel, which tells the story of an illiterate fisherman from the Channel Islands who must free a ship that has run aground in order to win the hand of the woman he loves, a shipowner's daughter."
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(203mm x 135mm x 27mm)
Modern Library Inc
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Here to help celebrate the great Romantic writer's bicentennial year is a lively new translation of the least known of his massive, unruly masterpieces. Though it lacks the concentrated melodramatic power of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this agreeably preposterous romance, originally published in 1866 in a carefully edited and partially censored text, displays most of Hugo's enduring crowd-pleasing skills: a mastery of atmosphere (especially in the essay-like opening sequence, "The Channel Archipelago"), deep and credible empathy with working-class heroes and heroines, and a rare ability to create vivid and visceral action scenes (most notably evident in its hero's climactic battle with the loathsome octopus known as the "pieuvre," or devilfish). The central story, in which its protagonist Gilliatt accepts the task of freeing a grounded ship (for which service he will be awarded the hand of a wealthy shipowner's daughter), is energetically juxtaposed against richly detailed pictures of seamen's occupations and marine life that recall (though in no way rival) Melville's definitive mixture of narrative and fact in Moby-Dick. And, although Toilers is unmistakably more romance than realistic novel, the bracing bitterness of its ironic conclusion gives it a haunting staying power. Those of us who first "read" this novel in the Classic Comics version of half a century ago will be grateful to discover that Hugo's impossibly grandiose and overblown yarn remains as perversely irresistible as ever. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Victor Hugo
James Hogarth was educated at Edinburgh University, and was later undersecretary in the Scottish Office. Graham Robb s many books include Victor Hugo: A Biography, which won the 1997 Whitbread Biography Award."