Sunday, 22 January 2017

Hugo and the Sea

Victor Hugo spent 15 years in exile from France on the island of Guernsey and lived there from October 1855-1870.  In modern times Les Miserables, which he wrote while on the island, has eclipsed his other works but the one that Guernsey celebrated in 2016 was the 150th anniversary of the publication of 'The Toilers of the Sea'.  A novel that was inspired by a holiday trip to the nearby island of Sark when his son Charles "tangled with an octopus" and he began to write the story in 1864.

The reverse of the envelope encapsulates the story = spoiler alert. 
I've not read 'The Toilers of the Sea' but Tom of Wuthering Expectations (the go to place for 19th Century novels) has and his impressions are here 

But enough of the story for the stamps tell it all.
Top:- 43p Déruchettee  57p Durante Wrecked 58p The Great Storm
Bottom:- 64p The Great Storm 70p Devilfish Octopus 78p Gilliat the Fisherman

The artist, Keith Robinson (who describes himself as a narrative illustrator) has done a number of stamp sets for Guernsey Post illustrating stories as  diverse as Sherlock Homes and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to name just two.  The original paintings of Toilers of the Sea (and other works) can be seen on his website here, as he illustrates Hugo's portrayal of "the capricious nature of the sea and the human heart"  Victor Hugo spent much of his time on Guernsey painting and I think he would have appreciated these tiny marvels.

Victor Hugo dedicated 'The Toilers of the Sea; to the people of Guernsey who provided him refuge "I dedicate this book to the rock of hospitality and liberty, to that portion of old Norman ground inhabited by the noble little nation of the sea, to the island of Guernsey, severe yet kind, my present asylum, my probable tomb"

The window of Hugo's writing room in his home, Hauteville House, looked towards his homeland but he was wrong about Guernsey being his final resting place, he returned to France and now lies with other literary greats in The Panthéon, Paris  and when he died his funeral procession was attended by two million people. 
1959 Bank Note with Victor Hugo and Panthéon
An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Books/Authors - read more at See It On A Postcard 


FinnBadger said...

I love the stamps - the colors are very dramatic.

violet s said...

Surely those stmaps are an inspiration to find the book and read it all!

violet s said...


Heleen said...

Impressive and wonderful stamps. I like the way the illustrator depicted the sea.

Eva A. said...

Great stamps. "The Toilers of the Sea" has been in my list of books-to-be-read for long time, so I didn't read the plot.

Bob Scotney said...

My reading list is getting longer this week, now I can add Hugo's works as well.
Magnificent group of stamps.