I’m reading Pierre Loti’s Pêcheur d’Islande (1886) right now to practice my French. Here’s a nice moment from near the beginning of the novel: “Dehors, ce devait être la mer et la nuit, l’infinie désolation des eaux noires et profondes. Une montre de cuivre, accrochée au mur, marquait onze heures, onze heures du soir sans doute ; et, contre le plafond de bois, on entendait le bruit de la pluie” (24).
After having read excerpts from Loti’s other novel Le mariage de Loti [or Rarahu] (1880) for a French class a couple years ago, my professor recommended this one.
In Le mariage de Loti, there have been both French and English soldiers in the same place, among the polynesian islands. I’m still not completely sure how that worked politically. From some quick searching around, it seems that there was competition between the two colonizing countries until France established its protectorate in the 1840s.
The Gauguin painting above is included because he did these paintings in reaction to his stay in Tahiti. Perhaps it gives a sense of the light there.