The Sea in Nineteenth-Century English and American Literature
The Sea in Nineteenth-Century English and American Literature
Throughout its development in both England and the United States, sea literature has traditionally involved three elements: the sea, the sailor, and the ship. At various times, any one of these has emerged as the dominant of the three. The ship has symbolized life itself—representing the background against which many youths, who looked to the sea for adventure and excitement, matured into independent men. The ordinary seaman has held a place of honor, acting as a first-hand witness to the realities of labor exploitation and the brutal conditions at sea. Yet the sea has inspired the greatest amount of interest among writers. Endowed with human qualities, the sea has been portrayed as indifferent, hostile, welcoming, and fickle. It has generated stories involving the challenge of the sea as a force to be conquered and overcome. It has afforded writers the material for adventurous tales of romance and courage. It has been celebrated for its beauty, honored for its mystery, and likened to a mother who offers security to those who seek refuge upon her “heaving bosom.” The sea has provided a vast and powerful landscape for American and English writers alike, and although the histories of the two countries differ, their emphasis on these basic themes is quite similar.
Known in its early history as a seafaring nation, England has had its identity shaped in large part by the sea. Having established and defended a naval empire throughout the course of its history, the nation by the eighteenth century took great pride in its navy, considering it an agent of God. The English seaman, too, was revered as courageous, just, and moral, and considered a prime example of the best of his race. These attitudes were reflected in the novels of Tobias Smollett (1721-1771), one of the country's dominant literary figures of the time, who in such works as The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751) and The Life and Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves (1762) focused his nautical writing—although limited in extent and rather satirical—on the Royal Navy.
Toward the end of the eighteenth century and the turn of the nineteenth century, English writings about the sea were influenced greatly by the Romantic movement, which found writers and artists looking to nature for inspiration. The Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1771-1834) wrote his masterwork The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) during this time. A supernatural story of guilt and punishment, retribution and repentance, The Ancient Mariner narrates the sea voyage of an old sailor who kills an albatross near the South Pole. This act is an affront to the spirit of Nature, who relentlessly pursues and torments the Mariner. Serving as a living warning to others who would defy divine law, the Mariner is doomed to relive his experience through the continual retelling of it throughout the remainder of his life. Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) treated the theme of man versus nature in his gothic “A Vision of the Sea” (c. 1820), a gruesome narrative of a doomed ship's voyage and the ghastly deaths of its crew.
By the first part of the nineteenth century, English novelists like Captain Frederick Marryat (1792-1848) were writing picaresque narratives based on their firsthand experiences. Marryat, who went to sea at the age of fourteen, spent over two decades aboard ship. Writing in the tradition of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), whose Scottish novels revealed an intimate knowledge of his country's history and people, Marryat included in his sea stories real geographical and nautical details. Popular with young Victorian boys in particular, his adventure tales such as Mr. Midshipman Easy (1836) and Masterman Ready (1841), written with a vivid imagination and an eye toward providing accurate information for his youthful audience, opened up the world of the British naval service to the English. By the latter part of the Victorian era, the English love of the sea was flourishing. Building upon the romanticism of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the Victorians developed mythic notions of the sea, including its symbolic association with Christian redemption and spiritual rebirth and the assigning of female qualities to the water—based on its mystery, emotion, and sense of restlessness.
The early history of the original thirteen colonies of North America was heavily dependent on water as well. Transplants from England were accustomed to maritime enterprises and relied on the sea for imports and exports—specifically shipping timber from the New World to shipbuilders across the Atlantic—and for the growing whaling and fishing industries. By the late eighteenth century, the newly formed United States entered what has been called the “heroic age.” Lasting from 1775 to 1815, this national era saw the U.S. at war with Great Britain during both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, making maritime activity on the Atlantic hazardous. However, as a result of the need to seek new trading relationships because of trade embargoes and blockades, the U. S. began to emerge as a powerful shipper to the world. After 1812 the maritime industry flourished, buoyed by immigration, westward expansion (including the gold rush), and the overall growth of the world trade market. By the beginning of the Civil War, U.S. ships accounted for about three-quarters of the world's ships. By World War I, however, this number had dropped substantially due to the increased self-reliance of the country.
Early American sea literature is believed to have begun with the oral traditions of Native Americans, who recited stories of the common experiences of whaling and fishing, cultural folklore of how the land had been created from the great waters, and seminal encounters with others from across the sea. Early American settlers wrote of their experiences at sea—recalling their treacherous journeys across the ocean in poems, narratives, and journal entries. By the first half of the nineteenth century, the sea occupied the same place in the American psyche as the American frontier occupied after 1850. Seen as a place of freedom and soul-searching for the individual, the sea was largely romanticized by Americans who heralded it as a safe haven far from the evils and distractions of society. This romantic view extended to the life of the sailor, a way of life that seemed to offer adventure, freedom, and escape from the increasing industrialization of society. In reality, the majority of seamen, many of whom signed on as inexperienced youngsters, were hardly prepared for the harsh environment onboard ship, and accompanying low wages. In fact, most sailors made one trip and never went to sea again. One of the most significant nineteenth-century pieces of literature documenting these truths is Two Years Before the Mast (1840) by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1815-1882). A sailor from 1834 to 1836, Dana recounted his transformation from a bookish, effete young man into a self-reliant and mature individual during his years at sea. More importantly, however, Dana spoke of labor abuses toward merchant seaman, including the serving of bad food, the harsh physical punishments meted out for minor infractions, and the abuses of authority onboard ship. Ultimately, Dana claimed that the seamen were considered nothing more than indentured servants or slaves.
It was the romantic view of the sailor and of life at sea that prevailed throughout this first half of the nineteenth century, however, and it was during this time that American sea fiction was born. Known as the originator of the genre, James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) dominated American sea fiction, eventually writing twelve maritime sea novels. Cooper was a well-educated and wealthy young man when he went to sea as a common sailor at age sixteen, after having been expelled from Yale for misconduct. Five years later, in 1811, he resigned his commission and in 1824 published his novel The Pilot, which scholars agree marked the beginning of the genre. As a forerunner to Herman Melville, Cooper wrote during the height of the Romantic movement in America, and these romantic, idealized notions were reflected in his novels. To Cooper, the sea was a positive force, offering freedom and building character in those who chose to experience maritime life.
Although Cooper is remembered for establishing the genre, Melville (1819-1891) is arguably the best known writer of American sea fiction. With several years of experience at sea—including two years as a harpooner on a whaling ship in the southern Pacific—Melville used many of the settings and events from his own life in his novels, reshaping them as fiction in an effort to understand the world around him. Melville published his masterpiece, Moby-Dick, in 1851. In essence an epistemological quest, the novel is, on the surface, the story of Ahab the mad captain of a whaling ship and his zealous search for the great albino whale who had maimed him earlier. With Moby-Dick, scholars have argued that Melville provided a romanticized and inaccurate picture of the whaling industry, depicting a world in which men traded the monotony of their lives in the city for the excitement and adventure of the sea. In reality, most whalers led lives that were monotonous, dirty, and even brutal.
From the mid-nineteenth century to the turn of the twentieth century, sea fiction reflected several significant changes in the American social and cultural landscape: the end of the use of sailing ships, the closing of the Western frontier, and the publication of Charles Darwin's controversial On the Origin of Species in 1859. Sea literature was most profoundly affected by this latter development, with attention turned toward investigating the biological origins of man and attempting to resolve the conflict between the theme of brotherhood among seamen and the question of survival of the fittest. Furthermore, in abandoning romantic notions of a coming to terms between man and the natural power of the sea, late nineteenth-century writers of sea fiction took the position that man was no match for the powerful, hostile, and unfeeling natural environment. During this realist-naturalist period, from 1870 to 1910, writers such as reporter and journalist Stephen Crane (1871-1900) portrayed the gloomy and disheartening view of the individual as helpless against the forces of nature. In his short story “The Open Boat” (1898), Crane told a tale of shipwreck and survival, recounting the narrative of four men of varying intellectual and physical powers who are stranded on a boat in the ocean. Not one of the men is able by his own powers to overcome the hostility of the sea—only chance or fate can save them.
Themes in American maritime literature changed after the writing of Moby-Dick as the focus shifted from the recounting of adventures at sea to the contemplation of questions of consciousness. Walt Whitman (1819-1892), for example, in his Sea-Drift sequence of poems (first published in the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass), examined the theme of individual identity. In poems such as “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” “On the Beach at Night,” and “As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life,” Whitman addressed the narrator's experience with the power and vastness of the sea, exploring questions of the known and unknown and the mysteries of the natural world. By the end of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, sea literature shifted again, as writers like Jack London (1876-1916), Richard Matthews Hallet, and Archie Binns began again to recount their own adventures at sea.
The Awakening (novel) 1899
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (poem) 1798; published in Lyrical Ballads
The Mirror of the Sea: Memories and Impressions (essays) 1906
James Fenimore Cooper
The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea (novel) 1823
The Red Rover: A Tale (novel) 1827
The Water Witch; or, The Skimmer of the Seas: A Tale (novel) 1830
The Two Admirals: A Tale of the Sea (novel) 1842
Afloat and Ashore; or, The Adventures of Miles Wallingford (novel) 1844
The Sea Lions; or, The Lost Sealers (novel) 1849
“The Open Boat” (short story) 1898; published in The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure
Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea (prose) 1840
Mariner's Chronicle, Being a Collection of the Most Interesting Narratives of Shipwrecks, Fires, Famines, and Other Calamities Incident to the Life of Maritime Enterprise 2 vols. (nonfiction) 1804
The British Prison Ship (poetry) 1781
“The Voyage” (short story) 1819; published in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent No. 1
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Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: “Dread Neptune's Wild Unsocial Sea: The Sea in American Literature Before 1820,” in James Fenimore Cooper and the Development of American Sea Fiction, Harvard University Press, 1961, pp. 1-41.
[In the following essay from his landmark study, Philbrick offers a detailed overview of the development of American sea fiction, providing a comprehensive survey of early works in the genre by both British and American writers.]
During the first half of the nineteenth century the sea occupied much the same place in the imaginations of many Americans that the continental frontier was to fill after 1850. The sea exerted the same appeal to the individual: it offered adventure, quick profit, the chance to start anew, and freedom from the restraints and obligations of society. The same national values were attached to the sea: it represented the arena of past glories, the training ground of the national character, and the field on which wealth and power were to be won for the country.
This concept did not spring full-blown in the national consciousness. Rather, it grew out of the cumulative effect of the history of maritime enterprise in colonial America; the naval victories of the Revolution, the undeclared naval war with France, and the war with the Barbary States; the steady expansion of American trade throughout the world in the early years of the new republic; and above all the...
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SOURCE: “The English Romance with the Sea,” in Victorian Myths of the Sea, Ohio University Press, 1977, pp. 11-23.
[In the following excerpt, Behrman focuses on the many sea myths prevalent in late Victorian England and discusses how these myths were represented in the literature of the time.]
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied
Who hath desired the Sea?—the sight of salt water unbounded— The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber windhounded?
Masefield's lines, so familiar that they are almost trite, reflect the deep and intimate English love affair with the sea. The sea symbolism found in the later Victorian period had roots much earlier in the century in the Romantics' preoccupation with mythic material for literature, and even in the eighteenth-century fondness for sea ballads of all kinds. But the intimacy of man and sea seemed to reach a peak in late-Victorian times, when national power and policy, articulate public enthusiasm, and fortunate circumstances combined to reinforce and promote the myths of the sea. There are many levels at which one might look at these myths,...
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SOURCE: “The Voyage in American Sea Fiction after the Pilgrim, the Acushnet, and the Beagle,” in Sea-Brothers: The Tradition of American Sea Fiction from Moby-Dick to the Present, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988, pp. 3-18.
[In the following excerpt, Bender traces the transformation of American sea literature from its “golden age” of the 1840s through the end of the nineteenth century.]
You got to have confidence steering.
—Ernest Hemingway, To Have and Have Not
Richard Henry Dana, Jr., “changed the face of maritime fiction” in America by publishing his “voice from the forecastle” in Two Years Before the Mast.1 He influenced James Fenimore Cooper's last sea novels and prepared the way for many less significant books that immediately capitalized on the new value he had given to the actual experience of ordinary seamen (Nicholas Isaacs's Twenty Years Before the Mast, 1845, for example); he initiated “the genre of journey narratives that was to play a central role in the literature of the American Renaissance”; and, most significantly, he exerted a profound influence on the career of Herman Melville (Philbrick, Introduction, 22-23). On first reading Two Years Before the Mast, shortly after returning from his own first voyage, Melville had been filled with “strange,...
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SOURCE: “Introduction: The Sea, the Land, the Literature,” in America and the Sea: A Literary History, edited by Haskell Springer, University of Georgia Press, 1995, pp. 1-31.
[In the following essay, Springer surveys the maritime history of the United States and provides an overview of the beginnings of American sea literature.]
… In their westward movement, starting before there was even an “America” in human consciousness, Europeans encountered the seas that led to the New World and then later helped to define it. The Atlantic, the world's stormiest ocean, was, very early in modern European history, an economic and cultural focus—as it had long been for the fishing and whaling “Indians” on the other side. Next met, though we tend to forget them, were the freshwater seas of the Great Lakes, each of which, Rudyard Kipling remarked, is a “fully accredited ocean.” This phenomenon, like the salt sea, inspired much legendary and mythological literary expression from Native Americans, as it later astonished and attracted European adventurers, settlers, and their own imaginations. Then (with its own indigenous North American sea cultures) came the immense Pacific, 25 percent larger than all the world's land masses combined—a challenge to trade and exploration, but also the liquid wall against which the westwardly realizing United States found the...
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Criticism: Major Figures In American Sea Fiction—Cooper And Melville
SOURCE: “The Language of the Sea: Relationships between the Language of Herman Melville and Sea Shanties of the Nineteenth Century,” in Southern Folklore Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1, March, 1973, pp. 53-73.
[In the following essay, Schwendinger studies the similarities between Melville's language and the language of nineteenth-century sea shanties—songs with a swinging, or lilting rhythm, often sung by sailors while onboard ship.]
Over the years Herman Melville's language becomes the language of the sea as do sea shanties of the 19th Century, and similarities exist between both, in tone, symbols, figurative language, and subject matter. That Melville was concerned about the men who lived, worked and died upon the immutable sea, is readily evident,1 and his poetic expression is a combination of fact and myth, two worlds of the great imagination, not unlike folk songs, themselves creative renderings of the forces from love through hate that play prophetic parts in the human drama.2 The relationships we find between Melville's writings and the songs help us to gain a further appreciation of the folk materials that were present during Melville's day, and of the author-seaman who undoubtably absorbed these materials into his art, thereby capturing the spirit and authenticity of his times.
Consider Melville's treatment of the perennial diet of salt meat, beef or...
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SOURCE: “Melville and the Sea,” in Soundings, Vol. 62, No. 4, Winter, 1979, pp. 417-29.
[In the following essay, Hamilton discusses Moby-Dick's sea in terms of its theological significance to Melville.]
For I say there is no other thing that is worse than the sea is For breaking a man, even though he may be a very strong one.
Homer, Odyssey, VIII, lines 138-39
In Moby Dick the sea appears to mean virtually everything. It is the home of both the nursing whale-mothers and the rapacious shark. It has a serenity that can nearly cure Ahab's monomania; it is also darkness and death. It is in any case the primary symbol in Moby Dick and a clue to Melville's artistic and religious imagination. If, as Melville reminds us, the sea covers two-thirds of the earth, it also seems to cover two-thirds of Moby Dick. It is both earth's center, its ultimate clue; it also brings forth the savagery, destruction, and death lurking in human beings. I believe that Melville, in the course of working on his masterpiece, came quite literally to worship the sea, and I suspect it is his most distinctive theological category. It is not the weak Jesus or the evil God, but the inhuman sea that ultimately is able to solve his crisis of faith.
I propose to lay out the story of the sea in Moby Dick by focusing on the sea stories of the two...
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SOURCE: “Cooper's Sea Fiction and The Red Rover,” in Studies in American Fiction, Vol. 16, No. 2, Autumn, 1988, pp. 155-68.
[In the following essay, Adams argues that Cooper's sea novels generally take place in a sort of middle ground between the shore and the sea—a neutral area that metaphorically represents the hero's inner conflict between authority and personal liberation.]
Cooper's sea novels generally blur the traditional distinction in maritime literature between sea and shore. The dichotomy persists in Cooper's works between the shore as a realm of conflict and the sea as one of resolution between, as W. H. Auden puts it in The Enchaféd Flood, a state of “disorder” and a world of harmony, where change and turmoil are “not merely at the service of order, but inextricably intertwined, indeed identical with it.”1 But most of the action in a typical Cooper narrative takes place somewhere between these two worlds. In The Pilot (1824) the central conflicts and resolutions occur in shallow water. The political struggle is settled among the treacherous rocks and shoals of the “Ripples,” while the parallel domestic discord finds a happy ending in Colonel Howard's death scene aboard a ship at anchor in a safe harbor. In The Red Rover (1827), similarly, almost half the narrative is devoted to the hero's efforts to get out of Newport harbor, while the...
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Criticism: American Sea Poetry And Short Stories
SOURCE: “The Word Out of the Sea: A View of Crane's ‘The Open Boat,’” in Arizona Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2, Summer, 1974, pp. 101-10.
[In the following essay, Autrey contends that the death of Billie in “The Open Boat” demonstrates the futility of man's struggle for independence and freedom.]
Although presented as an anticlimax and beautifully understated, the death of the oiler holds the key to Stephen Crane's study of mankind in “The Open Boat.” As the most significant single occurrence in a work composed primarily of inner action, Billie's drowning gives meaning to the final periodic comment:
When it came night, the white waves paced to and fro in the moonlight, and the wind brought the sound of the great sea's voice to the men on shore, and they felt that they could then be interpreters.1
His death offers the final lesson for these “interpreters.” Paradoxically incorporating the pathos of the human situation as well as the nobility of the individual effort, this lesson teaches the futility of life itself. Similar to the four men desperately seeking the shore which represents much that they repudiate, the lines of intellectual inquiry gravitate to the pronouncement on the frustrating alternatives of either struggle without meaning or knowledge without action.
In the study, Crane...
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SOURCE: “Structure and Meaning in Whitman's Sea-Drift,” in American Transcendental Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 53, Winter, 1982, pp. 49-66.
[In the following essay, Fast examines Whitman's Sea-Drift poems as a whole, focusing on how their organization within the larger Leaves of Grass helps to develop the overall themes of self-exploration and the promise of transcendence.]
Criticism of Whitman's Sea-Drift sequence has been almost entirely limited to analyses of “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” and “As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life.” Although many critics have commented on the contrasts between these two poems, none has thoroughly examined Sea-Drift as a whole. Instead, critics have noted the presence of sea imagery,1 or have made general statements about themes. For example, James E. Miller states that Sea-Drift develops the theme of the self and time, achieving hope through mystic evolution, and T. E. Crawley finds these poems representing an introspective voyage into the unknown.2 None of the critics, though, undertakes to show exactly how the poems achieve such effects, or indicates that the arrangement of the poems as a group contributes to the development of the themes. Gay Wilson Allen perhaps first voiced the assumption on which this neglect has been based when he minimized the organizational coherence of the...
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SOURCE: “From the Material to the Spiritual in the Sea-Drift Cluster: Transcendence in ‘On the Beach at Night,’ ‘The World Below the Brine,’ and ‘On the Beach at Night Alone,’” in Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, Winter, 1996, pp. 149-58.
[In the following essay, Wohlpart studies the middle three poems in the Sea-Drift cluster, arguing that these poems clarify Whitman's definitions of transcendence and immortality.]
Several critics have suggested the central importance of the Sea-Drift cluster to the organic integrity of Leaves of Grass. Thomas Edward Crawley argues in The Structure of “Leaves of Grass” that this cluster, which centers on sea imagery and explores the self, marks a significant change from the first part of the collection, which centers on land and pioneering imagery and explores the “nation's physical boundaries.” So what we see is a change from external and material analysis to “introspection [and] self-analysis.”1 Crawley concludes that “This group of poems, then, effects an important shift in emphasis—from exploration to introspection, from materialism to spiritualism, from individuality to all-inclusive spirituality.” Indeed, Crawley continues, this series of eleven poems constitutes “the great awakening of Leaves of Grass.”2
While other critics may not...
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Criticism: English Sea Literature
SOURCE: “Shelley's ‘A Vision of the Sea,’” in Studies in Romanticism, Vol. 17, No. 1, Winter, 1978, pp. 51-59.
[In the following essay, Ketcham interprets Shelley's fragment “A Vision of the Sea” as the poet's most direct artistic statement on the theme of man versus nature.]
From the time of the boyish wonderings that prompted his frustrated ghost-hunt at Warnham Church to the spectral events at Casa Magni in 1822, Shelley was probing, uneasily and persistently, at questions which stood ranged along the outer limits of his belief. Again and again he confronted, and fell short of finally resolving, a series of related problems—the scope of the individual will, the immortality of the soul, the extent of change which love can bring about, the relationship of man to his physical environment. Whether faith (or love, or will) can move mountains or look through death were issues which troubled him in the midst of his most fervent assertions of the power of the human spirit. He seems to have been particularly concerned with the ways in which man is limited by material nature; as Carl Grabo summed up the issue some decades ago, Shelley's “horror of the destructiveness of natural forces … alternates with his mystical faith in the ultimate powers of beauty and goodness in the world.”1 Man may eventually achieve a sense of relationship with the glacier that crowns Mont Blanc, but it...
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SOURCE: “Captain Marryat and Sea Adventure,” in Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 3, Fall, 1983, pp. 13-15 and 30.
[In the following essay, Moss offers a brief overview of two sea adventure stories by Marryat: Masterman Ready and Mr. Midshipman Easy.]
By the time that Charles Dickens had published A Holiday Romance (1868), the stock features of sea adventure stories were so well-known that his nine-year-old character, the would-be writer Robin Redforth, can tell the adventures of one Captain Boldheart and his encounters with cannibals, pirates, and worst of all, the Latin Grammar Master (who gets boiled in a pot by the cannibals). As Harvey Darton suggested, Redforth probably subscribed to The Boys of England, a magazine whose aim was to enthrall the youthful male reader with “wild and wonderful but healthy fiction.”1 This wild and wonderful fiction invariably included bold adventurous sea captains who battled bloodthirsty pirates led by a villainous and infernal chief, rescued helpless maidens in the thrall of the pirate chief, and triumphantly discovered buried treasure. James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson, authors of classic sea adventure stories, both admit that they had devoured “penny-dreadfuls” and that they especially preferred to read about pirates in their goriest form. The children in Kenneth Grahame's The Golden Age...
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SOURCE: “Death as ‘Refuge and Ruin’: Shelley's ‘A Vision of the Sea’ and Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in Keats-Shelley Journal, Vol. 43, 1994, pp. 170-92.
[In the following essay, McEathron examines Shelley's “A Vision of the Sea” as it relates to Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, focusing particularly on how the former poem articulates Shelley's beliefs about both death and humanity's spiritual isolation.]
It has been the persuasion of an immense majority of human beings in all ages and nations that we continue to live after death—that apparent termination of all the functions of sensitive and intellectual existence. … Let us trace the reasonings … [and] discover what we ought to think on a question of such momentous interest.
(Shelley, “On A Future State” )1
The “momentous” question above is one Shelley turned to repeatedly, attempting to reason his way to an account that would lift the “veil of life and death” (“Mont Blanc,” line 54).2 Though his inquiries were frequently dogged by his concomitant fascination with death's more titillating trappings—corpses, graveyards, and other nighttime terrors—questions surrounding the nature of mortality were central to his sometimes fluctuating skepticism,...
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Blish, M. “Melville and the Sea Drifters of Japan.” Melville Society Extracts 76 (February 1989): 14-16.
Traces the many mentions in Moby-Dick of Japanese Sea Drifters—sailors whose boats had been disabled and, as a result, drifted with the Pacific currents.
Candido, Anne Marie. “A New Sea in a New Frontier: American Leadership in The Pathfinder.” Etudes Anglaises 44, No. 3 (July-September 1991): 285-95.
Focuses on the Lake Ontario setting of Cooper's novel The Pathfinder.
Cramer, Timothy R. “Testing the Waters: Contemplating the Sea in E[mily] D[ickinson]'s Poem 520 and Kate Chopin's The Awakening.” Dickinson Studies 83 (1992): 51-56.
Compares Emily Dickinson's and Kate Chopin's use of the sea as a setting for soul-searching and individual freedom.
Cuddy, Lois A. “Eliot and Huck Finn: River and Sea in ‘The Dry Salvages.’” T. S. Eliot Review 3, Nos. 1-2 (1976): 3-12.
Discusses how T. S. Eliot's prose introduction to Mark Twain's Huck Finn explicates a portion of Eliot's “The Dry Salvages,” illuminating the poet's own ideas on the metaphoric and literal symbol of the sea.
Dennett, J. J. “Mighty Waters in the Work of Dickens and Turner.” Dickensian 90,...
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