Cover image for Maritime fiction : sailors and the sea in British and American novels, 1719-1917
Maritime fiction : sailors and the sea in British and American novels, 1719-1917
Peck, John, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire : Palgrave, [2001]

Physical Description:
ix, 214 pages ; 23 cm
Sea stories. From Homer to Hakluyt ; Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Captain Singleton ; Tobias Smollett's Roderick Random ; Britain's sea story -- Jane Austen's sailors. Mr. Midshipman Price ; The sailor as hero ; The navy in Mansfield Park ; Persuasion -- Captain Marryat's nave. William IV, the sailor king ; Frank Mildmay ; Mr. Midshipman easy ; Marryat and his contemporaries -- Dickens and the sea. Dickens's nautical background ; Dombey and son ; David Copperfield ; Dickens and Sir John Franklin -- American sea fiction: Cooper, Poe, Dana. James Fenimore Cooper's The pilot and The red rover -- James Finemore Cooper's Afloat and ashore -- Edgar Allan Poe's The narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym ; Richard Henry Dana's Two years before the mast -- Herman Melville. Melville's sea stories ; Type and White-jacket ; Moby-Dick ; Billy Budd -- Mid-Victorian maritime fiction. From the Crimean war, 1854-6, to the bombardment of Alexandria, 1882 ; Elizabeth Gaskell's Sylvia's lovers -- The gentleman as sailor: Trollope, Collins, Eliot ; The sailor as gentleman: William Clark Russell -- Adventures at sea. Adventure stories ; Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island ; Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous ; Jack London's The sea-wolf -- Joseph Conrad. The nigger of the 'Narcissus' ; Lord Jim and Heart of darkness ; 'Falk', 'Typhoon' and 'The secret sharer' ; Chance, victory, the shadow line.
Reading Level:
1350 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR830.S4 P43 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In this important new study, John Peck examines the cultural significance of maritime novels from Defoe through to Conrad. Focusing in particular on the image of the body, he illustrates how these works are built around the disparity between the masculine and often brutal regime of the ship and the civilised values of those who remain on the shore. The first comprehensive discussion of its subject, Maritime Fiction is an original exploration of the relationship between national identity, fiction and the sea.

Author Notes

John Peck is Senior Lecturer in English at Cardiff University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In many respects a companion to Peck's War, the Army and Victorian Literature (CH, Dec'98), this work looks at maritime fiction as a reflection of the development of national identity and as a force in works in which the sea would at first seem to be merely incidental. Much of the focus is on abuse of the body, including the slave trade that helped to establish national prosperity, instances of cannibalism, and the maltreatment endured by seaman, from impressment and flogging to mutilation. Peck (Cardiff Univ.) gives much attention to the gap between the hard life aboard ship, with its extreme masculinity, and the more civilized circumstances on land. The impressive range of literature covered goes from Daniel Defoe to Joseph Conrad and includes works by Tobias Smollett, Jane Austen, Frederick Marryat, Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, and many others. Of particular interest are Peck's discussions of how Marryat's works reflect the change in attitude toward the sailor in the first third of the 19th century, how Dickens's Dombey and Son portrays the railroad superceding the ship, and how Conrad depicts Britain's great maritime tradition on its last legs. This well-written and comprehensive study will interest all students and scholars of British and American literature culture. J. D. Vann University of North Texas

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Sea Stories
From Homer to Hakluytp. 11
Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Captain Singletonp. 17
Tobias Smollett's Roderick Randomp. 22
Britain's sea storyp. 27
2 Jane Austen's Sailors
Mr Midshipman Pricep. 30
The sailor as herop. 32
The navy in Mansfield Parkp. 36
Persuasionp. 42
3 Captain Marryat's Navy
William IV, the Sailor Kingp. 50
Frank Mildmayp. 53
Mr Midshipman Easyp. 59
Marryat and his contemporariesp. 64
4 Dickens and the Sea
Dickens's nautical backgroundp. 70
Dombey and Sonp. 73
David Copperfieldp. 81
Dickens and Sir John Franklinp. 87
5 American Sea Fiction: Cooper, Poe, Dana
James Fenimore Cooper's The Pilot and The Red Roverp. 89
James Fenimore Cooper's Afloat and Ashorep. 94
Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pymp. 97
Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mastp. 102
6 Herman Melville
Melville's sea storiesp. 107
Typee and White-Jacketp. 110
Moby-Dickp. 113
Billy Buddp. 122
7 Mid-Victorian Maritime Fiction
From the Crimean War, 1854-6, to the Bombardment of Alexandria, 1882p. 127
Elizabeth Gaskell's Sylvia's Loversp. 131
The gentleman as sailor: Trollope, Collins, Eliotp. 139
The sailor as gentleman: William Clark Russellp. 144
8 Adventures at Sea
Adventure storiesp. 149
Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Islandp. 153
Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageousp. 159
Jack London's The Sea-Wolfp. 162
9 Joseph Conrad
The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'p. 165
Lord Jim and Heart of Darknessp. 170
'Falk', 'Typhoon' and 'The Secret Sharer'p. 176
Chance, Victory, The Shadow-Linep. 181
Notesp. 186
Indexp. 209