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“In the Wake of the Spray: The Twentieth Century Sailing Narrative”


English Conference Room–2A15

Contact Name

Prof. Jim Papa

Prof Jim Papa of the English Department will be leading a discussion of theTwentieth Century sailing narrative.

The Twentieth Century sailing narrative might be said to begin with Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World (1900) and end with Nick Ward’s Left for Dead: Surviving the Deadliest Storm in Modern Sailing History (2007). In between lies a goodly collection of texts penned by all sorts of salty characters, from the quasi-mystical French sailor Bernard Moitessier to the brash and bitter American film star Sterling Hayden. From rascally raconteurs such as Tristan Jones to gentlemen of letters like Hillaire Belloc, twentieth century sailors represent a supremely literate bunch, with a long tradition of scribbling tars bobbing in their wake. Writer and sailor Jim Papa will talk about his research into some of the ways the twentieth century sailing narrative developed, not only out of earlier maritime writing but as a response to Slocum’s Barnumesque conquest of the sea, and discuss the ways several twentieth century sailors, sailing in the wake of the Spray, have combined the literary impulse and the sailing life to create one of the most unique and overlooked of all literary genres--the twentieth century sailing narrative.