Jacques-Yves Cousteau

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(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Jacques-Yves Cousteau 1910–

French nonfiction writer, filmmaker, and oceanographer.

Cousteau is widely known to the general public for his films and books about his marine explorations. He has shared the beauty and wonder of the ocean world with millions of readers and viewers in many languages. He teaches that humans must be careful to respect and conserve that world. Cousteau is also known, especially to oceanographers, for his contributions to marine research. He has helped advance the development of diving and exploration techniques, underwater photography, and nautical archaeology. Scientists sometimes point out that in his films and books Cousteau presents generalizations rather than well-documented scientific evidence. Cousteau, however, claims that he calls himself an explorer, not a scientist. Cousteau's films have won four Academy Awards, eight Emmy Awards, and two Cannes Film Festival Awards.

Cousteau served as a captain in the French navy and worked with the French Resistance during World War II. He collaborated on the invention of the aqualung, a lightweight, self-contained breathing apparatus that allows divers to swim freely underwater for extended periods. The Silent World (1953), written with Frédéric Dumas, recounts the testing of the aqualung as well as the initial voyages of Calypso, Cousteau's well-equipped research vessel from which he and his crew of divers and photographers conduct their work. This book won immediate critical and popular acclaim. The Living Sea (1963), which Cousteau wrote with James Dugan, relates the subsequent expeditions of the Calypso crew, including a successful experiment in underwater human habitation. The photographs accompanying these texts, and the motion...

(The entire section is 392 words.)