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The Ocean Paperback – 7 Oct 1999


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From the Back Cover

"Hanley is a chronicler of nomads and potential escapes, a writer who travelled the unstriated spaces of the sea and consciousness... using the language like a good clean cyclone"

William Faulkner

When the Aurora goes down, all on board must abandon ship. Curtain, a sailor, finds himself stranded in a lifeboat on the open sea with four men, one of them an old priest. He must assume responsibility for them, tend to the ailing priest and ration the meagre supply of food and water.

The men respond to the horror of their predicament in different ways. Curtain goes on carrying out his duties mechanically, without a thought for himself. Another talks endlessly of his broken marriage to the woman who he fears is dead. Only the priest seems to be able to accept their helplessness and face the possibility that they might not be saved.

The strengths and weaknesses of these men and their private thoughts and dreams are explored as the days pass, the water runs low, the priest's life fades and no sign of rescue appears. Human frailty in the face of the demoralizing power of the sea is at the heart of this harrowing masterpiece.

"There are some writers who seem to have to a private path into people's souls. They lead you there through unfamiliar streets... And yet, when you have arrived, there is no question that you are there... James Hanley is such a writer"

New York Times

"It would be fitting indeed if the majority of his courageous oeuvre were restored to print before the century that he despaired of and 'sang' so hauntingly has run its course"

Bruce Allen, Kirkus Reviews

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

JAMES HANLEY, novelist, short-story writer and playwright, was born in Dublin in 1901 and brought up in Liverpool. At thirteen, he ran away to join the Black Watch Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and fought in the First World War. He spent nine years at sea, and this profoundly influenced his writing. His second novel Boy (1931) was prosecuted for obscene libel, and this gave him a notoriety that may have led to the unjustified neglect of his powerful and starting work. He died in 1985, leaving a body of work which included 31 novels. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x90863918) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90b00f60) out of 5 stars This book is a gem--the prose tight and terse, ... 2 Jan. 2015
By J in New York - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a gem--the prose tight and terse, characters well-drawn yet sparse. If you admire Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat," you will feast on Hanley's novel. Unlike the former, whose protagonist is really the sea, here you have five human characters to analyze and even admire.
HASH(0x90d7a2f4) out of 5 stars No clear reason to read on. 3 April 2016
By Joyflsong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Made little sense to me. I found the prose choppy, disjointed and the characters too spare. I stopped reading early in the book.
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