Hugo stuns and exalts - simply unsurpassable,
This review is from: Signet Classics Toilers Of The Sea (Mass Market Paperback)Toilers of the Sea
To say that "Toilers..." is about Man's struggle with the sea would be an understatement of the actual theme of this beautiful work of unsurpassed literary craftsmanship.
The actual theme is this: Glorification of man's capacity to cross all possible barriers, surmount every obstacle - however difficult - and achieve a tough, rational goal.
Gilliat, the hero, doesn't have to just fight the tempest and the wind; the paucity of resources or the aid of combined human effort; hunger and fever; the sea monster or the impossibility of any succor from land...
The 19th century saw a plethora of writers - many of them great literary geniuses - who condemned the growth of science, technology and industry; fearing that it would lead to a "materialistic" world without a soul; a world where human emotions like love, humanity and compassion would be lost to men.
At such a time Hugo wrote a novel which upholds science and technology in the name of the advancement of the human race; which held up loudly and proudly the great human mind and spirit - showing what all it could accomplish; which projected that SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ARE THE PRODUCTS OF THE BEST AND HIGHEST IN MAN; and above all, that the men who are the exponents of science and technology are capable of passionate, intense emotions of love and devotion; and of friendship and humanity.
The literary merits of "Toilers..." are numerous: in the context of Hugo's literary errors, it is the least flawed of Hugo's novels.
One aspect of the novel, which often tantalizes and disappoints readers, is the ending. To say that it was unnecessary or illogical would be foolishness.
In the end, I shall say that "Toilers..." is my top favorite of all of Hugo's novels; though each is a masterpiece in its own respect.