ARCTIC ROVINGS or the Adventures of a New Bedford Boy on Sea and Land by Daniel Weston Hall

ARCTIC ROVINGS or the Adventures of a New Bedford Boy on Sea and Land

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Part of the fun here is seeing the visual approximation of the 1860's original: type passages framed in thin black borders, summaries at the beginning of each chapter, even a marbleized facsimile cover with an equally counterfeit leatherish binding. Secondly, William Hogarth (a namesake but no relation) provides discriminating, realistic scenes and pertinent, never dull addenda (whale charts and whaler parts). Hall began as the Condor's fifteen-year-old foremast hand, served for many months before jumping ship in Siberia, spent nearly a year with Russian natives, then returned to New Bedford aboard a different ship almost four years after he first set sail. He left the Condor to avoid the sadistic cruelty of his captain: one blow left the boy with a painful internal injury that obstructed normal movement until, after months of suffering, a ""wild"" Siberian medicine man cured him in a matter of days. Hall himself is a genuinely likable character, even something of a stylist, although the readability of the text is a tribute to the editor's hand. Beatty corrects even minor errors and establishes both the kind of excisions he made (Hall's account was poetically affected for the times) and also the transplant of several passages to accommodate an audience with a different frame of reference. Altogether informative and entertaining.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1968
Publisher: Young Scott