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Stove by a Whale Paperback – 1 Sep 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press; Reprint edition (1 Sept. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819562440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819562449
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.4 x 2.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,535,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"The astonishing list of books, logs, manuscripts, court records, ships' registers, and museum records attest to the diligent weeks, months, and even years that have finally resulted in a volume that entrances the reader with yarns of the sea. All the drama is still there, intact." --Ocean

About the Author

THOMAS FAREL HEFFERNAN is a Professor of English at Adelphi University New York. He is chairman of the Melville Society's Centennial Committee, charged with planning the observance of the 100th anniversary of Melville's death.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Exciting history 19 Feb. 2013
By Al - Published on
Format: Paperback
"In 1819 a Nantucket whaleship put to sea for a voyage from which it never returned."

The centerpiece of this book is the contemporary account of the sinking of the Essex by a whale, and the fate of the 19-man crew, by the first mate, Owen Chase. Upon his return to Nantucket, Chase published the story of the Essex in a small volume, and Heffernan quotes a large swath of that narrative. Chase's prose is spare and very compelling. Following Chase's narrative, Heffernan explores what happened to the survivors following their rescue after 92 days at sea in small boats. He examines how this narrative influenced Herman Melville and explores the many points of contact between the remaining crew of the Essex and Melville while Melville was crew on the Acushnet. Heffernan also inlcudes the notations that Melville made in his copy of Chase's narrative, and he includes the account of the saga by the captain of the Essex, George Pollard.

This volume is part textual criticism and part historical examination. In addition to detailing the influence and effects on Herman Melville and his works, such as Moby Dick, Typee, and Billy Budd, Heffernan explores the extant source material on the Essex, which include many letters written by the ships involved in the rescue. In the course of the book, Heffernan also describes Nantucket and its whaling industry in the first few decades of the 19th century. There is a description of how the wars of liberation in Chile and Peru affected U.S. shipping at this time. There are also detailed descriptions of the state of Pacific navigation and the importance of various islands as stopping points to the Nantucket and New Bedford whalers.

This was a very enjoyable and informative book which kept me interested and engaged throughout. For me the only question left unanswered is what could possibly have made a whale attack a ship.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Interesting for those who enjoy historical accounts. 19 Nov. 2013
By Deadly - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is an extract from Owen Chase's narrative in a textbook that I use for teaching. My curiosity was aroused, so I wanted to learn more. Old fashioned, but I found it interesting.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Stove by a Whale 16 Jan. 2013
By P.J. L. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The heart rendering account of a young man's adventure at sea that's sure to stir one's soul. Becoming the hunted was not part of the agreement when signing on the Essex, a first hand account of one of nautical history's most moving tales !
An excellent read !!!
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