Sailing Alone Around The World
By Joshua Slocum; Read by Alan Chant
1 |M4B|, 22 Zipped MP3 Files, or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours 52 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: May 9, 2007
Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail around the world alone in a small boat. He personally rebuilt an 11.2 metre sloop-rigged fishing boat that he named the Spray. On April 24, 1895, he set sail from Boston, Massachusetts. More than three years later, he returned to Newport, Rhode Island, on June 27, 1898 having circumnavigated the world, a distance of 46,000 miles (74,000 km). In 1899 he described the voyage in Sailing Alone Around the World now considered a classic of travel literature. It is a wonderful adventure story from the Age of Sail and a book of which Arthur Ransome declared, “boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once.”
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I was listening to an episode of the CBC Radio One Ideas podcast, entitled Sailing Alone Around The World |MP3|, and was struck by the story of the first man to do that very thing. The program uses excerpts from Slocum’s book of the same name, and interviews those modern solitary sailors who’ve followed in Slocum’s wake. The fact that, in some sections of the sea, the next nearest human being to a lone sailor might be someone on the International Space Station, was an astounding revelation to me. The fact that there have been fewer solitary circumnavigators than there have been people in space, also astounding. So, not even half-way through the show I set my sights on LibriVox, where I searched for, found, and downloaded an M4B of the audiobook.
Slocum was an Canadian by birth and a naturalized American. In the late 19th century, upon finding himself out of work (the age of coal powered ships had begun in earnest), Slocum found there was no more call for a tall ship captain. One day Slocum finds himself having been gifted with an aged sloop. And so he sets about refitting it, hires himself out to himself plans to write a book (serialized in the Century magazine), loads up his cabin with food, supplies and lots of books, and sets sail on a solitary circumnavigation of the planet earth.
What he finds in the adventure is, simply put, real adventure! Slocum is alone for the entire trip except for The Spray itself, Slocum’s sloop, which is full of emotions (it feels happy when the sailing is good, and becomes anxious when in port too long). Similarwise he has a few passengers, there’s a hungry goat, a sneaky bilge rat, and a long suffering spider (it meets another just like it half a planet away from where it was born).
In his more than three years at sea Slocum meets with ship thieves, admirals, colonial governors, the widow (and adopted son) of Robert Louis Stevenson, friendly natives, hostile natives, officious bureaucrats, friendly bureaucrats, storms, reefs, sickness, and even a ghost!
Along the way he salute’s the sea god Neptune, ports at many memorable anchorages, including the island of the real life inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (Alexander Selkirk), and becomes an international celebrity.
Slocum’s narrative is helped by his enjoyable sense of humor and hindered by his prejudices. And while the various characters that he meets in the book may sometimes benefit from Slocum’s breezy writing style I got no real sense of the other side of the story. Incidents with thieves, one man steals his pistol, and one South American boy tries to steal his ship, come across as far less frightening than they might really have been. Indeed, there’s something of a deliberate storyteller to this travel narrative, something which reminds me of Sławomir Rawicz’s extraordinary adventure memoir The Long Walk (it may have been entirely made up). That said, the documentation seems far more present, and the journey here does seem to have actually occurred.
Narrator Alan Chant has an English accent and a relaxed reading style. There’s a bit of background noise in the recording, but the audio is very serviceable. Each chapter begins and ends with a bit of seabird song. Recommended.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Here’s a terrifically interesting story of romantic adventure, and love, between two very heterosexual men.
Did I mention they are heterosexual?
Well they are.
They have wives!
That’s all there is to it.
The Heathen interweaves Jack London’s racist ideas with his experiences as a sailor to make a truly he-manish tale of two macho sailors who form an unbreakable seventeen-year bond after being shipwrecked in the South Pacific. This is manly beefcake Jack London from 1910, working the blood and breed obsessed vein of fiction and friendship that Robert E. Howard did so masterfully in stories like Queen Of The Black Coast and Hills Of The Dead.
Unfortunately, the version that my good friend Gregg Margarite read for LibriVox, a couple years back, was abridged (or perhaps sanitized) – the PDF version below includes a couple of extra lines here, there, and at the end. Important lines. It also includes more swearing.
Damn those abridgers and sanitizers.
Gregg is dead.
I’m confident he’d have wanted to have read the unsanitized and unabridged original had it been available.
Here’s a beautiful |PDF| made from a scan of the magazine.
Here are the rest of the terrific illustrations by Anton Fischer:
Posted by Jesse Willis
Maureen O’Brien, of the Maria Lectrix podcast, may be the hardest working narrator in podcasting, she has started recording yet another novel, The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt. Maureen sez of it:
“Fantasy and horror in the South Seas! This 1919 classic influenced many writers and filmmakers, including the creators of the TV show Lost and the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Abraham Merritt was a journalist, editor, and pulp writer. He died in 1943. His novels Burn, Witch, Burn! and Seven Footprints to Satan have been adapted into movies.”
This was A. Merritt’s first novel and it was written in two parts. The first was called “The Moon Pool” it appeared June 22, 1919 in the early pulp called All-Story Weekly. Merritt followed up the successful tale with a longer sequel, “The Conquest of the Moon Pool,” which appeared in six installments starting February 15, 1919. Later they were combined to form the novel below…
The Moon Pool
By A. Merritt; Read by Maureen O’Brien
35 MP3 Files – [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Maria Lectrix
Podcast: January 2008 –
Dr. Walter T. Goodwin is sailing on the Southern Queen back to New York, after a botanical expedition to the d’Entrecasteaux Islands when he meets his old friend, Dr. David Throckmartin. Throckmartin looking haunted, relates a tale of disaster and death during an expedition on the Caroline Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. On the island of Ponape they found a strange stone door which…
You can download the MP3 files directly from the Internet Archive page for it or subscribe to the fantasy podcast feed:
Posted by Jesse Willis