Toilers of the Sea

Anything by Victor Hugo besides Les Misérables.
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sophiedegrouchy
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Toilers of the Sea

Postby sophiedegrouchy » Sat Jul 03, 2010 2:41 am

After having it sit on my shelf for probably two years, and bringing it on practically every vacation to no avail, I have finally buckled down, read, and finished Toilers. It's a fascinating work, but I've never seen any discussion about it in the fandom. Has anyone else actually read the thing? If so, I'd love to compare notes and impressions.

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby Marianne » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:22 am

Alas, Toilers and Man Who Laughs are the major Hugo novels that I still need to read. I almost got a lovely edition of Toilers online but it disappeared out from under me at the last minute.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby MmeJavert » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:41 am

I think there's a Julie Rose translation of Toilers, actually. I saw it at Borders.
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:35 am

There's a 2002 edition, translated by Scot James Hogarth, that is apparently *finally* unabridged. (I was actually just reading Graham Robb's bitching about how all English editions have been abridged to leave out some of Hugo's weird imagery.) That's probably the one you saw - same publisher as the Julie Rose LM.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby sophiedegrouchy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:30 pm

Mine's the Signet Classics trans. Hapgood that claims it's "complete and unabridged" on the cover. Oh, I do hope Hapgood didn't mess with it too much, but I have my doubts if Robb didn't think there was a good edition at the time he wrote the bio. I mean, the imagery seemed weird enough...

However, my copy says that it's the first Signet printing, and was only released in 2000 (i.e. after Robb), so it miiiight be possible that the Hapgood wasn't widely available so doesn't fall under Robb's blanket condemnation. I can pretend.

Clearly this is just sign #523 that I need to sit down and actually read Robb to see what he has to say.

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:32 pm

Exact quotation, p. 413: "It was once a summertime bestseller in the Channel Islands and two films were made of it. Since then, it has fallen into obscurity, which is all the more annoying for English readers since the only available translations are prudishly incomplete: gone are the pebbles under water resembling the heads of green-haired babies; gone, too, the Dionysian evocation of Nature in the spring as the wet dream of the universe."

also, the blurb on that Modern Library edition says it's the first unabridged English translation.

Basically, if you don't recall anything resembling "wet dream of the universe", he hates the version you read. I think. In a footnote to the Epilogue of his bio, he says, "The Toilers of the Sea was republished as a paperback in 1990 (Stroud: Alan Sutton; Vale, Guernsey: The Guernsey Press Co.) ith no indication of its origin: like the 1961 Everyman edition, it is based on the original 1866 translation by William Moy Thomas, which, even after being 'completed', is a miserable travesty (see p. 413)." Hapgood doesn't merit a mention, but that does contradict Modern Library (or Amazon.com). Hmm.

I can't believe it's taken me this long to read it. Graham Robb is awesome.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Marianne
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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby Marianne » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:54 am

I would seek out another translation, just going by the (lack of) quality of Hapgood's Les Mis translation. It manages to fall into both major translation pitfalls at the same time: inaccuracy (mostly through sloppiness or over-literal translation of idioms) and awkward clunkiness. I can't imagine she would've done a better job with Toilers.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby sophiedegrouchy » Sun Jul 11, 2010 7:59 am

Damnblast.


I think I remember the babies' heads, but less so for the universe's wet dream. Mind, I could've just missed it, but my faith in Ms. Hapgood isn't too high. Well, phooey. I enjoyed the read, but not so much to do it again any time soon. And now I feel like I was cheated. Ack.

It'd be interesting to try to contact Robb and see what he thinks of it. Maybe, someday, I'll work up the guts...

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby MmeJavert » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:07 am

http://www.amazon.com/Toilers-Sea-Moder ... 094&sr=1-1

This is the translation I have that I bought with my Julie Rose LM (which is probably why I keep thinking Julie Rose translated it, too). It's a new translation, done in 2002 supposedly for Hugo's bicentennial. Graham Robb wrote the introduction to it. I found it at Borders and Amazon clearly has it on sale for a decent price, for anyone who's looking for a copy. Or you can get the kindle edition for an extremely reasonable price.

I just dug it out of the trunk of my car (wherein lives about 40 other books in various states of have/have not read) where it's been for a few months, which is why I didn't post about it earlier. I'm hoping it hasn't been abridged, though I'm not so sure Graham Robb would've been involved with an abridged or otherwise incomplete copy. I'll probably get to read it sometime in the next few months, as I have a nice pile of books on my to-read list right now. :D


...oh, whoops, in rereading the thread I saw that it was already posted! Sorry for the redundant redundancy; it just took me this long to remember where I stashed mine. :oops:
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:50 am

Just finished reading '61 Everyman edition. Wow, Victor. Just - wow.

All his personal hangups are there. Feuillantines garden? Check. Self-sacrificing Gary Stu? Check. Pretty blond effeminate boy who gets compared to an archangel? Who the hell did you have this big a crush on, Victor, because damn, this time it was completely gratuitous.

Having read LM, you can pretty much tell the exact plot once all the characters have been introduced. The only type missing is Javert, pretty much. You've got a sweet, innocent, pure girl in a garden, a couple characters that divide Valjean (the loner who is more awesome than society will ever accept; the guardian who devotes his life to the pure girl in the garden), an Éponine, a deep-dyed villain who waits and watches for his moment to grasp for a big payout, and a gratuitously pretty blond guy. With a giant section in the middle that prefigures The Old Man and the Sea, only with a much younger guy.

Also, Hugo needs to quit asking dumb questions down at the pub, because the guys were feeding him all sorts of bullshit. His descriptions of the deadly stalker octopus are, frankly, hilarious. It's hard to seriously analyse the imagery when it looks like octopuses crawl out of the water, squeeze you like a python, and drink your blood through their suckers. Also, what nonsense is the whole "the octopus has no beak"? Octopuses have beaks! They do! They have a beak with which to slice open your flesh, if you want to go that route.

(It's a Common octopus, and you know the guys at the pub were pulling his leg. I also think they were making stuff up about sailing vessels and vocabulary, because some of it just sounds wrong to this reader of Patrick O'Brian, but that isn't nearly as hilarious as the blood sucking octopus that is scary because unlike a vulture, it has no beak. *facepalm*)

There is, however, a lot more acknowledgement of sex than in LM. His main character isn't a monk like Valjean: he has actual erotic feelings. Also, we are told about the maids' sex partners, which makes me think those characters are based on women Hugo himself slept with. Still, it's a nice change, that here, love isn't on some pure spiritual plane but includes the physical aspects that are denied until marriage in LM. (since Fantine has nasty consequences for her sexuality, Marius is too embarrassed to attempt anything, and Cosette is too pure. Éponine/Parnasse is deliberately left vague. It isn't that Gilliatt actually gets laid, but that he can contemplate Déruchette taking her clothes off, which is a distinct step forward when compared to Marius.)

It's actually kind of a fascinating read, but for Hugo's hang-ups, not for plot. Plot was entirely predictable, thanks to Hugo's hangups :)
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby Col.Despard » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:19 am

I love, love LOVE the octopus section, because it is so absolutely ridiculous. Speaking as someone who adores occies, interacts with them all the time in tide pools, and was once written up in a book of animal encounters because I struck up a friendship with one over a long summer. MAN V. OCTOPUS!!!!

Now, if he'd been talking about largish squid - say, Humbolts - he'd have had a leg to stand on. Or eight arms and two tentacles. Because squid tend to be rather narky, and a few Humbolts, if they take a dislike to you during a night dive, can even be dangerous (I can recall an incident where a diver working on a doco was dragged below safe diving depths and only freed because he gave them a squirt of bubbles from his reg that persuaded them to release him).
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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:18 am

That's why I was giving him the benefit of the doubt for a while, despite the blood sucking, as one could confuse squid and octopus. But, well, various websites about sea life in the Channel confirmed that pieuvre is the common octopus.

Though, considering the pretty colours octopuses can make, the vampiric octopus is crying out for some sort of Twilight crossover parody, right?
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby Amy3422 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:40 pm

I need some advice about translations:

I have a Guernsey Edition of Toilers of the Sea that seems to have come out soon after the original. It looks fantastic, but sadly, the book I have is only Volume 2. Should I go looking for Volume 1? Or should I just buy a different edition?

If anyone has advice about which are the best written or most accurate translations of Hugo's other novels, such as L'Homme qui rit or Quatrevingt-treize, I would be grateful for that as well. I've previously only read the Norman Denny Les Mis. and the Walter J. Cobb Notre-Dame.

Thoughts?

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Re: Toilers of the Sea

Postby between4walls » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:45 am

Language weirdness- "He knew a little Turkish instead of "guillotined" would say "neboisse."

So, neboisse does not afaik mean guillotined in Turkish. Why would Rantaine use the word?

According to the memoirs of the Prince de Ligne, a late-eighteenth-century/early nineteenth-century Belgian/Holy Roman Empire aristocrat who was posted as a diplomat in Russia during a war involving Russia and the HRE versus the Ottoman Empire, the Turks would say "neboisse" (as Ligne transcribes it), which is the Russian "не боись," or "don't be afraid," right before they cut a captured Russian's head off. Which scared the hell out of people- your enemy telling you in your own language not to be scared, and you knowing instantly that means you should be very, very scared indeed.

So yeah, Rantaine says people who were guillotined were "don't be afraid-ed."
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.


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