Shipwreck stories

SnakNaval History and Fiction

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Shipwreck stories

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apr 15, 2008, 2:49 pm

I just finished The Wreck of the Medusa by Jonathan Miles, and I found it generally very readable, although a bit muddled as to who ended up where from what boats. All in all I thought it was really interesting to see the examination of the influence of politics on the shipwreck and then of the shipwreck on politics - particularly through the figure of Alexandre Correard and through Gericault's painting.

I thought Miles did a really good job interweaving the stories of the shipwreck and the painting. I really felt like I learned a lot about both.

Anybody else read any good shipwreck stories lately?

apr 15, 2008, 2:57 pm

I book I read about 5 years ago and really liked was Batavia's Graveyard. Relates to events in 1628 when the vessel Batavia went aground on her maiden voyage to Java. She was a Dutch East Indiaman. There was also mutiny involved and although there were many survivors they did not act together but split into two factions with bloody results.

Redigeret: apr 18, 2008, 11:06 am

apr 27, 2008, 4:23 pm

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick is a great shipwreck book. It's about the real sinking of a whaleship by a whale, and they survivors trip in open boats to Chile. This is the source for Melville's white whale in Moby Dick.

Also The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale (Penguin Classics) by Owen Chase who was one of the survivors of the trip, is very good too.

Redigeret: sep 2, 2010, 11:04 am


I've heard good things about Batavia's Graveyard. I happened by chance upon Simon Leys' The Wreck of the Batavia, but soon found myself frustrated by his constant references to Dash's book to explain things. Essentially, what I took from Leys was not to bother with his book but to read Batavia's Graveyard instead. I've had my eye out for a copy since.

I also recently chanced upon a young adult novel dealing with the Batavia shipwreck (and its aftermath) called The Blue Eyed Aborigine (touchstone not working: It was definitely an interesting story, but there was a sudden point of view shift from third person to first (from the POV of Jan, the cabin boy, and Wouter Loos) that made me stumble a bit.

sep 2, 2010, 2:20 pm

>5 Caramellunacy: Caramelluncy
I haven't come across the Simon Leys book and from what you say I'm not inclined to bother. I recently learnt from a book on the Thirty Years War that "Batavia" comes from the Latin name for what is now the Netherlands. And a book I've just finished and enjoyed is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. It's only marginally relevant and set in Japan rather than Indonesia but does relate to the Dutch East India Company and was at the end of a trading route from Batavia. Certainly gives some idea of the milieu in which these people were operating. The other book you mention also sounds interesting.