THE MONARCH OF JUAN FERNANDEZ by Martin Ballard

THE MONARCH OF JUAN FERNANDEZ

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When Sandy Selcraig returned to Largo (1709) after many years at sea, his family noticed that he had lost his fiery temper and that his need for human companionship seemed to have vanished with it, replaced perhaps by a strong attachment to house cats. These smalltown Scots knew little of the journalist Steele's account of Sandy's years on the tropical island of Juan Fernandez, nor did they know Captain Woodes Rogers' story of rescuing Alexander Selkirk (as Selcraig was known in England), the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe. This biography follows the hot-headed sailing master from London to New World waters, his deliance of two fearsome superiors, his mutiny and the subsequent four years with a few cats and goats for companions--no Friday, but an obsession with time, then with the Bible. Only a third covers the island experience; the first part details factors precipitating his decision, the last his return to Scotland and his discomfiture there. ""Echt hundra (800) pounds they say he's worth and yet it's brocht nae joy tae him nor his folks."" A puzzling character to his contemporaries, made comprehensible in a study that neither glorifies not underestimates solitary confinement.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Scribners