Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing


  • Hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale Ship Essex
  • Owen Chase
  • 12 September 2014
  • 9780760348123

10 thoughts on “Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale Ship Essex

  1. Robin Robin says:

    You could just say this is a lovely coffee table book full of incredible illustrations and sidebars about cannibalism to browse but I am way too much of a Moby Dick19th centuryold timey whatnot dork to stop there so I read the whole thing This book presents Owen Chase's memoir alongside excerpts from Melville and other narratives related to whaling and survival at sea I was especially fascinated by the story of the ship Medusa and the painting it inspired The Raft of the Medusa What happens when a hundred people on a raft lacking the discipline of the sailors on the Essex have nothing to sustain them except wine?it's not good for the weakOwen Chase's memoir inspired Moby Dick and what I find interesting about both the novel and this memoir is the greater context we are reminded that beyond the dramatic events is an entire industry and international trade economy The men in these tales face the intense terrors of the sea the monsters within it and in some cases the darkest depths of humanity in order to bring home oil for lamps and baleen for corsets That dress looks great especially in the light of this smoke free spermaceti candlebut was your underwear crafted from a cannibal free whaling expedition? Interesting perspective


  2. W.B. W.B. says:

    It's the bicentennial of the Wreck of the whaling ship Essex out of Nantucket in the southern Pacific Ocean We have been stove by a whale were among the last words yelled from the deck of the vessel before all aboard had to abandon it for lifeboats And what an interesting staving in that was And what an interesting whale Because if you read the accounts of the whale's attack it does not seem accidental at all It was defending the members of its pod which were being slaughtered It wasn't just one attack It went through the hull twice from different directions That was a smart whale And some would argue a just one Kill my wife and children and I will leave you stranded in the South Pacific Ocean without a prayer Can you blame the creature?What followed is a really grisly tale of cannibalism at sea which probably should have inspired Poe But it inspired Melville instead Did you realize he never really profited from that book in his lifetime? After a few tries at the novel he gave up and wrote poetry which is rarely read these days This book is a coffee table book and a case book It includes written accounts of the wreck and its horrible aftermath by men who were there but also includes modern analyses It's chock a block with great illustrations and period photography It's a larger book but not hugeIt's riveting reading I found myself wondering whether anyone had ever made a movie about the wreck of the Essex So it turns out there was a version that aired on the BBC and Ron Howard did a film in 2015 I completely missed even the advertising for the latter I wonder how he handled it This story is so weird that I'd actually prefer to see someone like Peter Weir do the filmWhen the Essex sailors were anchored among the Galapagos they carelessly started a fire that consumed large portions of one of the islands and this conflagration is believed to be responsible for the complete extinction of at least two animal species a tortoise and a bird So what follows on the sea feels almost like a mystical payback by nature I realize that's a superstitious take but a karmic oneThis book includes many interesting sidebar features wherein historical information is given to put things in context It's a really nice assemblage and Zenith Press should be proudOne last irony the reason the sailors who abandoned the Essex for lifeboats were stranded months at sea was that they feared approaching the Maruesas or Society Islands because they had heard rumors that cannibalism was practiced there And because they chose to sail on so much further in an attempt to reach Easter Island which proved abortive they ended up having to engage in cannibalism among themselves


  3. Kelley Kelley says:

    Book received courtesy of Goodreadscom giveawayThis is a beautiful coffee table book The illustrations and photographs are interspersed throughout the story of the Essex as told by Owen Chase Also in the book you will find many accounts of other whale wrecks of ships in the 1700's and 1800's All accounts are taken directly from books of the period so the wording can be a little tricky However the idea of the horrific situations these whalers found themselves is uite evident For anyone interested in the early whaling industry this is a great addition Also for lovers of Moby Dick that Melville based on Owen Chase's writings


  4. Tammy Tammy says:

    This book is packed with such great illustrations and photos You not only get the tale of the Essex as written by Owen Chase but much There are various short essays interspersed throughout There's information on whale fishingan excerpt from Moby Dick stories of other boats that were lost This is a high uality book and a great read


  5. Brianna Bowman Brianna Bowman says:

    A great supplement to In the Heart of the Sea Short read incredible story


  6. Marilyn Marilyn says:

    This is the first hand account of the Essex which was sunk by a whale in the southern Pacific in 1820 leaving the sailors in small boats for many days with great suffering and finally cannibalism I read this on a kindle and was at first baffled by the format There is a straightforward narrative which is followed by at least a dozen shorter pieces relating similar encounters with whales shipwrecks explanations of how whaling was historically done newspaper articles plus illustrations I finally realized that in its usual format this is a large coffee table book The main narrative is accompanied by sidebars with the other bits and pieces All in all it's a fascinating collection


  7. Prashanth Baskaran Prashanth Baskaran says:

    This is a coffee table book if you want to spit the coffee all over the table Because of yuckiness of a few chapters which were essential details indeedI did not read the illustrated version of this book; just from Project GutenbergUnnecessarily extra long sentences But short read which was a relief


  8. Jessica Roberts Jessica Roberts says:

    Ick ship wreck horror storyCannibalism included Double ick The scariest part to me is to have SOME sort of reckoning as to where the boat was but NOT HAVE THE WINDS blowing in a direction to GET there A whale of a tail A whale's revenge


  9. Gig Wailgum Gig Wailgum says:

    An enjoyable version of the true account that spawned the beastly book by Melville Lots of side bar stories to help paint the picture Great illustrations and images


  10. Brooke Brooke says:

    Very interesting read Beautiful pictures


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Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale Ship Essex Owen Chase's memoir of the sinking of the Essex by a whale which inspired Herman Melville's epic Moby Dick and the film  In The Heart of the Sea Owen Chase was the first mate on the ill fated American whaling ship Essex which was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in the southern Pacific Ocean in 1820 The crew spent months at sea in leaking boats and endured the blazing sun attacks by killer whales and lack of food The men were forced to resort to cannibalism before the final eight survivors were rescued Chase recorded the tale of the ship's sinking and the following events with harrowing clarity in the Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex I turned around and saw him about one hundred rods 500 m or 550 yards directly ahead of us coming down with twice his ordinary speed of around 24 knots 44 kmh and it appeared with tenfold fury and vengeance in his aspect The surf flew in all directions about him with the continual violent thrashing of his tail His head about half out of the water and in that way he came upon us and again struck the ship Filled throughout with period and contemporary art photographs maps and artifacts this is a beautifully illustrated edition of a classic American memoir augmented with the writings of other participants as well as the perspectives of period and contemporary historians