Fred T. Marsh (essay date 1935)
SOURCE: A review of The Johanna Maria, by Arthur van Schendel, in The New York Times Book Review, October 13, 1935, pp. 7, 21.
[In the following review, Marsh praises The Johanna Maria for its artistry and simplicity.]
[The Johanna Maria] is the story of an old-time sailorman and an old-time full-rigged ship. It is a slight tale, but it is also a chip of the old epic tradition. Its bald and factual bits of narration of events and explanations of people, its high seriousness and its concealed but conscious artistry combine to render it poetic, a little Dutch miniature of an epic in cleanly patterned prose—if we may guess from the translation.
The ship is the Johanna Maria, launched 1865 out of the port of Amsterdam, tall of mast, ready to compete with the best the English have to offer, Captain Jan Wilkens. Many, many years later she is docked in old Amsterdam, her faring days over, a home for an old sailorman who has waited all the years for the chance to buy her and make her his own. In the years between she has made a hundred voyages, known a thousand sailormen, borne a half-dozen different names under a score of captains of various nationalities. But the old logs remain intact, the marks of carpentry, each with its history, can still be seen, and every inch of her tells a story to her first sailmaker, Jacob Brouwer.
This Brouwer was a waif...
(The entire section is 595 words.)