The Penguin Book of the Ocean

Bookshelf: The Penguin Book of the Ocean

The Penguin Book of the Ocean – James Bradley (editor)

The Penguin Book of the Ocean
The Penguin Book of the Ocean

I enjoy anthologies for more than one reason. They are excellent companions during times of stress and business; a short attention span is no hindrance to enjoyment of a collection of extracts and short pieces of writing. Furthermore, if one is lucky, they can be a fertile ground for discovery of new writers, and old writers of whose work one is ignorant.

My experience in the case of The Penguin Book of the Ocean was a happy one. It is a melange of non fiction, poetry, and fiction from a very wide variety of contributors spanning hundreds of years. Bradley attempted to select pieces which show how the ocean shapes our thinking. I enjoyed some of the surfing pieces (I am mystified by surfers, but in awe of how connected they are to the sea), and I loved the Derek Walcott poem, but it was mainly the non fiction that captured my imagination.

For further reading I’ll be tracking down The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck, and The Outlaw Sea by William Langewiesche in short order. I was also prompted to re-read Thor Heyerdahl’s account of his Kon-Tiki voyage, and Ernest Shackleton’s account of his polar explorations.

A reviewer for The Age in Australia points out that many of the pieces present a masculine approach to the sea, one of opposition rather than harmony. Very few contributors are female (Rachel Carson does feature, thankfully!), but I suspect this is less an omission than it has to do with the fact that fishing, shipbuilding, sailing and all forms of ocean commerce have largely been dominated by men.

It was quite hard to track a copy of this book down, which is why I can’t really provide a link to somewhere you can buy it. It’s an Australian publication and hasn’t really spread beyond Australia’s fair shores. I found mine at Fishpond.

To conclude, here is a picture of Junior being cute.

Junior and The Penguin Book of the Ocean
Junior and The Penguin Book of the Ocean

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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