||Hebrew translation of the novel of life among the Breton fisherfolk, called Pêcheur d'Islande (Iceland Fisherman) by the renowned French author Pierre Loti (Louis Marie-Julien Viaud). Edmund Gosse characterized as “the most popular and finest of all his writings.” The French edition appeared in 1886. It shows Loti adapting some of the Impressionist techniques of contemporary painters, especially Monet, to prose, and is a classic of French literature.
Pierre Loti (Louis Marie-Julien Viaud, 1850-1924) was born in Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, France, to an old Protestant family. His education began in Rochefort, but at the age of seventeen, being destined for the navy, he entered the naval school in Brest and studied on Le Borda. He gradually rose in his profession, attaining the rank of captain in 1906. In January 1910 he went on the reserve list. His pseudonym has been said to be due to his extreme shyness and reserve in early life, which made his comrades call him after le Loti, an Indian flower which loves to blush unseen. Other explanations have been put forth by scholars. He was in the habit of claiming that he never read books (when he was received at the Académie française, he said, "Loti ne sait pas lire" ("Loti doesn't know how to read"), but testimony from friends and acquaintances proves otherwise, as does his library, much of which is preserved in his house in Rochefort. In 1876 fellow naval officers persuaded him to turn into a novel passages in his diary dealing with some curious experiences at Istanbul. The result was Aziyadé, a novel which, like so many of Loti's, is part romance, part autobiography, like the work of his admirer, Marcel Proust, after him. (There is a popular cafe in current-day Istanbul dedicated to the time Loti spent in Turkey.) He proceeded to the South Seas as part of his naval training, and several years after leaving Tahiti published the Polynesian idyll originally named Rarahu (1880), which was reprinted as Le Mariage de Loti, the first book to introduce him to the wider public. This was followed by Le Roman d'un spahi (1881), a record of the melancholy adventures of a soldier in Senegambia.
In 1882, Loti issued a collection of four shorter pieces, three stories and a travel piece, under the general title of Fleurs d'ennui (Flowers of Boredom). In 1883 he entered the wider public spotlight. First, he publish the critically acclaimed Mon frere Yves ("My Brother Yves"), a novel describing the life of a French naval officer (Pierre Loti), and a Breton sailor (Yves Kermadec), described by Edmund Gosse as "one of his most characteristic productions". Second, while taking part as a naval officer in the Tonkin War, Loti wrote an article in the newspaper Figaro about atrocities that occurred during the capture of Hue (1883), and was threatened with suspension from the service, thus gaining wider public notoriety.
In 1887 he brought out a volume "of extraordinary merit, which has not received the attention it deserves", Propos d'exil, a series of short studies of exotic places, in his characteristic semi-autobiographic style. The novel of Japanese manners, Madame Chrysanthème— a precursor to Madame Butterfly and Miss Saigon and a work that is a combination of narrative and travelog— was published the same year. During 1890 he published Au Maroc, the record of a journey to Fez in company with a French embassy, and Le Roman d'un enfant (The Story of a Child), a somewhat fictionalized recollection of Loti's childhood that would greatly influence Marcel Proust. A collection of "strangely confidential and sentimental reminiscences", called Le Livre de la pitié et de la mort, (The Book of Pity and Death) was published in 1891. Loti was on board his ship at the port of Algiers when news reached him of his election, on May 21, 1891, to the Académie française. In 1892 he published Fantôme d'orient, a short novel derived from a subsequent trip to Istanbul, less a continuation of Aziyadé than a commentary on it. He described a visit to the Holy Land in three volumes, The Desert, Jerusalem, and Galilee, (1895–1896), and wrote a novel, Ramuntcho (1897), a story of contraband runners in the Basque province, which is one of his best writings. During 1898 he collected his later essays as Figures et Choses qui passaient (Passing Figures and Things). In 1899–1900 Loti visited British India, with the view of describing what he saw; the result appeared in 1903: L'Inde (sans les Anglais) (India (without the English)). During the autumn of 1900, he went to China, as part of the international expedition set up to fight against the Boxer Rebellion. He described what he saw there, after the siege of Beijing, in Les Derniers Jours de Pékin (The Last Days of Peking, 1902). Among his later publications were: La Troisième jeunesse de Mme Prune (The Third Youth of Mrs. Plum, 1905), which resulted from a return visit to Japan and once again hovers between narrative and travelog; Les Désenchantées (The Unawakened, 1906); La Mort de Philae (The Death of Philae, 1908), recounting a trip to Egypt; Judith Renaudin (produced at the Théâtre Antoine, 1898), a five-act historical play that Loti presented as based on an episode in his family history; and, in collaboration with Emile Vedel, a translation of King Lear, produced at the Théâtre Antoine in 1904. He produced a play at the Century Theatre in New York City in 1912, The Daughter of Heaven, which had been written several years before in collaboration with Judith Gautier for Sarah Bernhardt.