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Les Travailleurs de la mer

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  3,421 ratings  ·  329 reviews
C'est à la fois un conte et un drame héroïque, l'histoire de Gilliat, pêcheur solitaire, amoureux d'une belle jeune femme, qui pour elle s'en va braver l'océan. Propriétaire d'un bateau à vapeur qui vient de subir un naufrage, un vieil armateur a en effet promis la main de sa nièce à celui qui ira puiser au fond de l'eau les formidables et nouvelles machines encore intacte ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 674 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by Le Livre de Poche (first published 1866)
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Greg Far better than Les Miserables! So, YES!
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  3,421 ratings  ·  329 reviews

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***CAUTION*** This review contains full frontal male nudity (view spoiler)

Victor Hugo is maybe the best of the worst novelists or the worst of the best, the grandfather of fat awful airport novels, at once magnificent, and risible. To explain it differently, imagine a person ignorant of religion(view spoiler), and then imagine dragging
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Of the three Victor Hugo novels most readily available in the U.S., The Toilers of the Sea is the least well-known and the one that Hollywood and Broadway have not transformed into pop culture hits. Set in the Channel Islands, where Hugo was exiled for a time, it recounts the heroic story of a local man who risks all the little he has, including his life, to rescue the engines of a shipwrecked steamer and win the hand of the steamer’s owner’s niece. Because it is Hugo there is much description a ...more
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Eileen
Some books are hard to rate. The ending is stupendous! Victor Hugo has a particular writing style, you spot it a mile away. If you have read his other books, you know what is in store.

I did not like all parts of this book. I am giving it four stars because it beautifully captures the power of nature, its immensity and beauty. Alongside is drawn the puniness and insignificance of man. This is the overall impression the book left on me . The elegance by which the message is conveyed is why I ha
Most beautiful thing I'm yet to read. ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine the perfect recipe, the perfect blend of elements. In many respects "The Toilers of the Sea" is that perfect blend. One part epic drama, one part satiric wit, one part ethnographic study of Guernsey Island in the mid 1800s, one part battle between man and nature, one part spiritual allegory, and the topping is two parts elegant prose. Yes, yes, it is a lot to take on, but Victor Hugo did it oh so well. How many authors can make long drawn out descriptive passages gripping?

Hugo's prose i
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not many people read Victor Hugo any more, and that is a shame. No one could write prose that is more emphatic and dramatic. No matter that it espouses 19th century values: At the same time it is like a precursor of existentialism.

Gilliatt, the hero, is a Channel Island sailor who knows he sea as few people do. He is in love with Dérouchette Lethierry, whose father runs a steam ferry connecting Guernsey Island with the Breton port of St-Malo. When this ferry is deliberately sunk by its captain,
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I consider Victor Hugo the apotheosis of a romantic writer, in whose fictional universe love, honor and commitment are the most worthy and noble of all human choices, though often made at great cost. This cost is usually tragic in his novels, but revealing, not flaws in the universe, but the relative insignificance of all calamities, even death, beside such choices.

The conflict of Toilers of the Sea puts the love, honor and commitment of its hero, Gilliatt, in the starkest possible relief -- so
Mar 16, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Vicki-shawn by: Voltaire
I know many people will disagree with me here, but this particular book was an aggressively tedious read. The story started off very well and held my interest tightly, unfortunately it soon was a struggle to care about the story as the narrative became extraneously descriptive. The tempo of this tale is incredible slow, as the author carries on describing the entire history of every little thing that appears in the story; I would say this book is twenty percent story and eighty percent needless ...more
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
You hear that? The earth just shook a little because Ernest Hemingway, after vomiting on himself, shook his fist in disgust as one more reader found The Toilers of the Sea.

Victor Hugo, the modern era's poet philosopher, ponders Man's relationship with nature. He musters every ounce of his romantic emotion and universal sooth-saying while still dictating precise details regarding the actions, jargon and sciences of the cultural entity in the Norman archipelago. But, of course, a social dissentor
J.M. Hushour
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know an author's legacy is going to the shitter when his or her most famous novels get translated into Disney cartoons and garish musicals. But what's worse is that the rest of your output gets duly ignored. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that "Toilers" might be Hugo's greatest work. It's definitely superior to "Notre Dame" and it gives "Les Miserables" a run for its money.
Sublime and supreme, this is the ultimate tale of man against the world. Remember that English 101 crap abou
While I was in Guernsey, I read this lesser known Victor Hugo book. I may be biased since I read it while wandering through the island where this book is set and where Hugo lived when he wrote it, but I absolutely loved this book! Because I was exploring the island as I read Hugo’s descriptions, I had the most vivid pictures in my head. I pressed Guernsey wildflowers into the pages of my antique copy as I carried it around with me. Gilliatt is a beautiful character, and the ending is heartbreaki ...more
I made the proofing of this book for Free Literature and it will be published by Project Gutenberg.

Religion, Society, and Nature! these are the three struggles of man. They constitute at the same time his three needs. He has need of a faith; hence the temple. He must create; hence the city. He must live; hence the plough and the ship. But these three solutions comprise three perpetual conflicts. The mysterious difficulty of life results from all three. Man strives with obstacles under the form of superstition, under the form of prejudice, and under the form of the elements. A triple ἁν
Like early Clive Cussler? Then this is a must-read literary classic for you: a singular hero, Gilliatt (versus Dirk Pitt, his sidekick Giordino, tons of high tech equipment, and Numa backup teams the world over in Cussler's world) must salvage the engines of ship which is wrecked, upright, between two massive rock towers springing from the ocean depths using the technology of the mid-19th century.. How he does it is amazing enough: why he does it and what happens afterward is icing on the cake. ...more
Moon Rose
Our life seems to stand on the precipice of an isolated island divided as it is by a great sea that separates us from knowing the course of our destiny. To live is to toil this sea---to swim blindfolded upon the great expanse of its infinite waters that incessantly make us work hard to bridge the gap between our life and the fulfillment of our destiny...

The sea is symbolically strewn in the novel as the immutable rough path that we should all undertake without much choice. It is Victor Hugo's ov
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, audio-book
A really meaty main character. Absolutely loved all the bits about his struggle salvaging the wreck - man against the sea - very epic-feeling and harkens back to Greek myth for me, you know, heroes unsurpassed, like Hercules or Achilles. And always with that tragic slant, which gives it depth of feeling. I was truly enchanted by the contrast of characters innocent of pain, immersed in their joy, with our hero, Gilliatt, standing on a rock lashed by the sea, a symbol of those who give all and nev ...more
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent-favorites
Rounded to 5 stars. Masterfully written. Interesting and full descriptive prose creating vivid setting imagery and well-drawn characters despite minimal dialogue. Highly recommended.
May 09, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, french-lit

Just couldn't get through this one. I kept waiting for the story to get going, but it felt like a series of endless digressions on wind, rock, sea, etc. Sure seashells can be interesting but 10 pages on them starts feeling like a hammer to one's head. Now I do love Victor Hugo and am aware he is prone to digressions in his writing, but this story is shipwrecked in an endless ocean of details that got to be way too grating for me.

The characters themselves are great, centering around Gil
Victor Hugo writes as if he never did anything else but write. As if he lived 100 years and spent them all scribbling. As if it took 300 pages to communicate one idea.

The difference between English and French Romantics? The English are quicker.

He published this overlong novel in 1866. "Moby-Dick" came out in '51. Which makes me suspicious: did Hugo envy Melville's masterpiece? Because this book reads like a bad imitation, what with every other chapter breaking the action to deliver an essay. No
Apr 07, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: Sylvester

Translator: W. Moy Thomas




Christmas Day in the year 182- was somewhat remarkable in the island of
Guernsey. Snow fell on that day. In the Channel Islands a frosty winter
is uncommon, and a fal
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ending hard to digest!!!!real life does not always end smoothly.
Although didn't want the ending to be this way,felt miserable about the end part but still liked altogether.
Megan J
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no point to life. It’s only a journey. When you tire of the journey... rest.

I love this book
Johan Haneveld
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Toilers of the Sea

Victor Hugo is fast becoming my favorite author. Well, he’s still got to pass J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but after reading The Toilers of the Sea I’m determined to find more of his work in translation. I have already found out about 93 and The Man Who Laughs being available and look forward to reading them. It doesn’t mean he’s easy to read though, Hugo is well known for going on long excurses about topics only tangientially related to the main plot. They can be a chore
Sara Vidal
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I was thirteen. It had a profound impact on me. love love love it. To tell more would be to reveal spoilers. Heart -rending.
I reread it some 25 years ago when I was nearly fifty. Same reaction.
Sara Dallmayr
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It feels as though I have been aboard this book for months. I mean this in the best possible way. I had not read any Victor Hugo as an adult. His style of story telling, his fastidious nature of description of minute detail after minute detail, he leaves no side of any stone or wrinkle untold or untouched. I found the condensed language to be refreshing. The book is a clinic of the sea, the toiling of the human spirit, a mystery, pure poetry. I will say Hugo's affliction for the beauty of youth ...more
Nicki Markus
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-classics
I am a huge Victor Hugo fan, and The Toilers of the Sea was the last of his major novels I had yet to read. Simply put, I loved it. As always, Hugo's characters sprang to life on the page. His expression of thoughts and feelings was as beautiful as always, as was his depictions of the sea and Guernsey. Being a Hugo novel, the ending was far from a universal HEA. However, it was somehow satisfying despite that sadness, and I was a little in love with Gilliatt by the time I turned the last page. T ...more
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OH. MY. GOSH. I have been entranced for the past few days by one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The language. The writing. The characters. The story. All were incredibly and beautifully superb. This is a new favorite of mine. And one I will hold close to my heart.

But before I go any further... I just absolutely need to say... Gilliatt. Gilliatt. Gilliatt. I. Love. Gilliatt. Was there ever a more lovable, admirable, romantic, and beautiful character? There will now forever be a sp
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 16, 2020 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I have a very old version written in 1866. If I can obtain a book written from that time period, I will prefer the read that one.

Long ago people were more disciplined in their education. They learned the classics of mythology and Latin in incorporated it into their writing. They were very practiced in forming well wriiten sentences. They would execute each sentence with perfection before they wrote the next one.

They had the luxury of time and many writers were sponsored, therefore they were mo
Daliah Abu Jamous
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Victor Hugo, in full Victor-Marie Hugo, poet, playwrighter, novelist, dramatist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights campaigner, and perhaps the most influential exponent of the Romantic movement in France, who was the most important of the French Romantic writers. Though regarded in France as one of that country’s greatest poets, he is better known abroad for such novels as Notre-Dam ...more

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