The gripping first-hand narrative of the whaling ship disaster that inspired Melville’s Moby-Dick and informed Nathaniel Philbrick’s monumental history, In the Heart of the Sea In 1820, the Nantucket whaleship Essex was rammed by an angry sperm whale thousands of miles from home in the South Pacific. The Essex sank, leaving twenty crew members drifting in three small open boats for ninety days. Through drastic measures, eight men survived to reveal this astonishing tale. The Narrative of the Wreck of the Whaleship Essex, by Owen Chase, has long been the essential account of the Essex’s doomed voyage. But in 1980, a new account of the disaster was discovered, penned late in life by Thomas Nickerson, who had been the fifteen-year-old cabin boy of the ship. This discovery has vastly expanded and clarified the history of an event as grandiose in its time as the Titanic. This edition presents Nickerson’s never-before-published chronicle alongside Chase’s version. Also included are the most important other contemporary accounts of the incident, Melville’s notes in his copy of the Chase narrative, and journal entries by Emerson and Thoreau. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
In one of the most spellbinding accounts of men who go down to the sea in ships, the modern reader is given a seat in the whale boat of Owen Chase as he and his fellow crew and their Captain make way in three boats after the wreckage of the Whaleship Essex. The account of how the Essex was wrecked inspired the infamous book Moby Dick and countless movies, including the newest, In the Heart of the Sea. The perils of sea, storms, nefarious intent of evil men and fate combined to bring an end to a long whaling voyage - typically hard and grueling enough without suffering an attack by a furious and vengeful sperm whale. The story, told in a first-person narrative by Owen Chase, the first mate of the Essex, was first published in 1821 and served to inspire Herman Melville to write his fictional book of the attack by the whale. The perseverance and determination of the crew, mate, and captain to use each and every tool and morsel available to them in salvage from the wrecked Essex to outfit their flimsy whaleboats for a voyage of more than 2,500 miles back to the South American coast is remarkable in many ways. Every ounce of energy and civility rapidly evaporated after two months at sea. The story not told by Melville may be the best part though the attack by the whale is still impressive if one imagines being on the small ship as the leviathan repeatedly bashes in the hull. In addition to the stirring account by Owen Chase are parts of the account by cabin boy Thomas Nickerson. Nickerson returned to the seas on whale ships following the Essex shipwreck, one of just a few known to have been sunk by a whale. After he retired to running a boarding house in Nantucket was when Nickerson finally wrote his account of the Essex and the plight of the crew. Nickerson only put pen to paper when challenged by a visiting author. When the writer, Leon Lewis, escaping from his creditors, became acquainted with Nickerson, he encouraged him to write down his tale of the incredible shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex. Nickerson did so and entrusted the manuscript to the erstwhile writer who promised to get it published and then fled to England. Over one hundred years later the Nickerson account The Loss of the Ship "Essex" Sunk by a Whale and the Ordeal of the Crew in Open Boats; was discovered in an old trunk and authenticated by the Nantucket Historical Association and published in 1984, a century after Nickerson wrote it. Nickerson's story told of the incredible attack on the Essex while two of the whaleboats were in the hunt to harpoon their prey. The first attack crashed the vessel and rocked it hard. Then, Nickerson wrote that the monster whale turned and rammed the Essex again, causing it to heave, break apart and sink. The crew began their search for land and eventually found a small island that was rather poor in resources. The sailors, with the exception of three men who decided to stay on the island, left in search of a better island, the mainland or perhaps a ship. Chase described how during the 90-day journey to the coast of Chile, the men were forced to eat one of their fellow sailors who had died. Nickerson was less than specific about the act of cannibalism and was on the same whaling boat with Chase. The other boat commanded by Capt. Pollard had, but four men left alive and too weak to continue. Finally, they decided to draw lots to determine who would have to be shot so that the others could live. The young cousin of the captain was the loser in that drawing and was killed. Only eight of the crew of twenty survived.
From the author of Mayflower, Valiant Ambition, and In the Hurricane's Eye--the riveting bestseller tells the story of the true events that inspired Melville's Moby-Dick. Winner of the National Book Award, Nathaniel Philbrick's book is a fantastic saga of survival and adventure, steeped in the lore of whaling, with deep resonance in American literature and history. In 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale, leaving the desperate crew to drift for more than ninety days in three tiny boats. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents and vivid details about the Nantucket whaling tradition to reveal the chilling facts of this infamous maritime disaster. In the Heart of the Sea, recently adapted into a major feature film starring Chris Hemsworth, is a book for the ages.
The first documented sinking of a ship by a whale and a harrowing account by the ship’s first mate of the survivors’ three months adrift in small boats. A thrilling narrative that inspired Herman Melville’s masterpiece Moby Dick.
Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-ship Essex is an account by first mate Owen Chase of the Essex, a whale ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts, that was sunk by a sperm whale in the Pacific Ocean near South American in 1820. Of the twenty-man crew, only eight survived the horrific ordeal; some men were stranded on an island, all remaining crew were forced to eat food tainted by seawater and drink their own urine, and finally, when members of the crew started dying, those still alive resorted to cannibalism until they were rescued. Narrative of the Whale-ship Essex inspired Herman Melville to write his enduring classic Moby-Dick in 1851; it also inspired the 2015 movie In the Heart of the Sea, based on the 2000 best-selling book of the same name.
In the nineteenth century, nearly all Native American men living along the southern New England coast made their living traveling the world's oceans on whaleships. Many were career whalemen, spending twenty years or more at sea. Their labor invigorated economically depressed reservations with vital income and led to complex and surprising connections with other Indigenous peoples, from the islands of the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean. At home, aboard ship, or around the world, Native American seafarers found themselves in a variety of situations, each with distinct racial expectations about who was "Indian" and how "Indians" behaved. Treated by their white neighbors as degraded dependents incapable of taking care of themselves, Native New Englanders nevertheless rose to positions of command at sea. They thereby complicated myths of exploration and expansion that depicted cultural encounters as the meeting of two peoples, whites and Indians. Highlighting the shifting racial ideologies that shaped the lives of these whalemen, Nancy Shoemaker shows how the category of "Indian" was as fluid as the whalemen were mobile.
With long, solitary periods at sea, far from literary and cultural centers, sailors comprise a remarkable population of readers and writers. Although their contributions have been little recognized in literary history, seamen were important figures in the nineteenth-century American literary sphere. In the first book to explore their unique contribution to literary culture, Hester Blum examines the first-person narratives of working sailors, from little-known sea tales to more famous works by Herman Melville, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, and Richard Henry Dana. In their narratives, sailors wrote about how their working lives coexisted with--indeed, mutually drove--their imaginative lives. Even at leisure, they were always on the job site. Blum analyzes seamen's libraries, Barbary captivity narratives, naval memoirs, writings about the Galapagos Islands, Melville's sea vision, and the crisis of death and burial at sea. She argues that the extent of sailors' literacy and the range of their reading were unusual for a laboring class, belying the popular image of Jack Tar as merely a swaggering, profane, or marginal figure. As Blum demonstrates, seamen's narratives propose a method for aligning labor and contemplation that has broader applications for the study of American literature and history.