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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Survivors of the Chancellor

The Survivors of the Chancellor
by Jules Verne
143 pages
first published in 1875

*** The Story (In Music) ***

Here's the traditional version - sing along if you know it:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip.
That started from this tropic port
aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
the Skipper brave and sure,
Five passengers set sail that day
for a three hour tour (a three hour tour).

The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
the Minnow would be lost (the Minnow would be lost).

And here's my version for this book:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip.
It leaves for sea from Charleston town
but ends up sinking down.

The captain was a sullen man,
the first mate brave and strong.
Some passengers were mighty daft
and they ended up on a raft (they ended up on a raft).

A fire broke out in the hold,
at first no one was told.
But in the end they were bereft;
of the ship was nothing left (of the ship was nothing left).

OK, that's about as good as I can get it. Suffice it to say that if you are planning on an ocean voyage any time in the near future, do not read this book! It is believed that Verne based his tale on two recent disasters: that of the French frigate "Medusa" which sunk off the coast of Africa in 1816 and that of the British ship "Sarah Sands" which caught fire in 1857. So unlike many of Verne's other stories, this one could actually happen. *shiver*

*** My Thoughts ***

As with many other books written during this time period, racial prejudices are apparent in the characters thoughts and speech. In addition our narrator makes judgement about people based on their physical features (head shape, stature, etc); I think there was a "science" based on this idea but I can't recall the name of it. If you can read this with the prevailing thoughts of the era in mind then you'll enjoy it.

This is my second Jules Verne novel and I'm definitely pleased (here's my first, and here's where I gush about him). My only complaint is that, as with many books of the day, the chapter titles give away too much info for my tastes. I mean, if the chapter heading says "Bob Is Abducted By Aliens" then you pretty much know what will happen in that chapter. But as I say, it was common for books of the time so I'll have to forgive Verne for that.

FYI, I read this through Project Gutenberg at this link (although I did print it since I can't read online for too long).

*** The Lost Challenge ***

I read this book as part of the Lost (TV series) Reading Challenge. It was on the list because a minor character is shown reading this book in season 4 (upside down) before committing suicide. Interesting, considering that one of the characters in the book also debates killing himself (I won't tell you what he decided in the end though).

There are not a lot of direct parallels between the book and the show, but it is most definitely about surviving a horrible disaster and that is parallel enough for me.

*** Your Thoughts? ***

Has anyone else read this? Reviewed it? I'd love to hear from you.


valentina said...

I would have printed it too, but wasn't it hard to carry it around with you?
I'm not planning any ship journey, but I'd suppose ships are safer now than in the 1800's or I'd hope so :P

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Valentina: What I do is print it in a small font, double sided, then staple several chapters together. I carry those around until I'm finished then pick up the next set. It works for me!

And as for ship journeys, sure they're safer, but if you're stuck on a raft it pretty much sucks no matter what time period you're in! :)

Dreamybee said...

If you enjoy the shipwreck stories, you might check out Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King. It's about a ship that wrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815. The crew were split up and taken prisoner. The book tells about their travels across the Sahara. I found it really interesting even though it was very monotonous at the same time in that every day was pretty much the same thing-wake up, walk across the desert while starving and thirsty, make camp, scarf down whatever nasty substance was available to eat or drink, get really sick, go to sleep, wake up, repeat. I think that was part of the point though, to show how unending their ordeal seemed. Anyway, I liked it!

Haiku Amy said...

Hey, I liked your song. Now that takes talent. Thanks for your review.

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