A BOOK OF SEA JOURNEYS by Ludovic--Ed. Kennedy


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A companion to The Book of Railway Journeys (1980), and similarly diverse--a sampling of historical narratives, personal memoirs, reportage, poetry, and fiction. But Kennedy is an ex-naval person, and this is a less orthodox, more personal selection: you'll find Conrad and Joshua Slocum and Samuel Eliot Morrison, but you'll also meet Sophia Taylor en route to Australia in 1851 (""there is no disguising 'character,' for we are so thrown together"") and Admiral Sir Thomas Byam Martin coming upon King George III and the Queen in a ""council of war"": was it proper to descend a ship's ladder ""in the usual way of going down stairs,"" or the other way around? The British presence is indeed pronounced, though not inappropriately so; and the chronological set-up offers a mini-history of seafaring: Part One, Travellers at Large, begins with Pedro Vaz de Caminha's report on the discovery of Brazil and concludes with an excerpt from Noel Mostert's Supership; Part Two, Naval Occasions, leads off with a 1780 shipwreck off Cuba and winds up with the nuclear-powered submarine Skate surfacing at the North Pole. There are tales of small boats and the great ocean liners, of the slave trade and lifeboat-survival. The fiction, unsurprisingly, is the weak spot--brief excerpts from Melville, Poe, Verne, etc., that amount to little more than writing samples. Still, the reader with a yen for sea-voyaging will find some choice material and some tantalizing leads.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Rawson, Wade--dist. by. Atheneum