Voyage of the Narwhal

Reading Voyage Of The Narwhal Andrea Barrett In Andrea Barrett S Extraordinary Novel Of Arctic And Personal Exploration, Maps Are Deceitful, Ice All Powerful, And Reputation Important Than Truth Or Human Lives When The Narwhal Sets Sail From Philadelphia In May 1855, Its Ostensible Goal Is To Find The Crew Of A Long Vanished Expedition Or At Least Their Relics And Be Home Before Winter Of Course, If The Men Can Chart New Coasts And Stock Up On Specimens En Route, So Much The Better And Then There S The Keen Prospect Of Selling Their Story, Fraught With Danger And Discovery, To A Public Thirsting For Excitement Zeke Voorhees, The Narwhal S Young Commander, Is So Handsome That He Makes Women Stare And Men Hum With Envy Perhaps Not The Best Qualification For His Post But He Seems Loved By All Only His Brother In Law To Be, A Naturalist, Quietly Mistrusts Him, Though He S Determined To Stand By The Youth For His Sister Lavinia S Sake At 40, Eternal Low Profiler Erasmus Darwin Wells Has One Disastrous Expedition Behind Him And Is Praying For Another Scientific Chance He Is, However, Familiar With The Physical Risks They Re Taking, As Well As The Long Stretches When Nothing Happened Except That One S Ties To Home Were Imperceptibly Dissolved And One Became A Stranger To One S Life And What Of The Women Left Behind Lavinia Knows Little Of The Dangers Of Ice Though She S Well Schooled In Isolation And Lives Only For Zeke S Return Her Companion, Alexandra Copeland, Is Less Sanguine Even After She S Been Given A Secret Career Break Ghosting For An Ailing Engraver She Knows How Invisible She Is And How Threatening Her Family S Dense Net Of Obligations Will Always Be Though They Get Less Page Time, Barrett Is In Fact As Concerned With These Women As She Is With Her Seafarers Like The Heroines Of Her National Book Award Winning Ship Fever, Who Bump Up Against Science And History In Which Only Men S Triumphs Are Written, They Must Somehow Escape Social Tyranny Or Retreat Into The Consolations Of Storytelling Or Silence There Is Tyranny On Board The Narwhal As Well, As Zeke Alternates Between Good Will And Paranoia, His Closest Companion An Arctic Fox He Has Civilized And Who Sits On His Shoulder Like A White Epaulet Alas, Sabine, Like Many Of The Men, Is Not To Survive The Journey Encounters With The Esquimaux Who Might Know About The Lost Expedition Than They Re Willing To Share Not Having Gone According To Plan, Zeke Determines In Late August To Head For Smith Sound Rather Than Home, Despite The Crew S Protests By Mid September, However, The Craft Is Ice Locked, And It S Clear They Ll Have To Winter Over At First The Men Make The Best Of Their Situation, Magically Sculpting Cottages, Castles, Palaces, Even A Whale And Offering Informal Seminars In Butchery, Bible Studies, And Basic Navigation However, As The Weather Worsens And Zeke Grows Increasingly Despotic, Morale Plummets Barrett Excels In Both Physical And Social Description, Writing With A Naturalist S Precision And A Passionate Imagination With Quick Strokes Backed Up By Intense Research , She Can Fill Us In On Some Sensible But Threatening Esquimaux Footgear All Five Were Dressed In Fur Jackets And Breeches, With High Boots Made From The Leg Skins Of White Bears The Men S Feet, Erasmus Saw, Were Sheltered By The Bears Feet, With Claws Protruding Like Overgrown Human Toenails Walking, The Men Left Bear Prints On The Snow The Author Also Shines In Panoramic Scenes Her Descriptions Of The Arctic Can Only Be Called Magnificent And In Small, Precarious, Personal Moments When Erasmus Eventually Returns To Philadelphia, Minus His Toes And His Future Brother In Law, A Grieving Lavinia Takes To Her Bed Eventually, However, She Relents Lavinia Stared Straight Ahead Straight At Erasmus, Her Right Hand Tucked In Her Lap While Her Left Turned A Silver Spoon Back To Front, Front To Back, The Reflections Melting, Re Forming, And Melting Again Lavinia Said Softly, I Forgive You Everyone Knew She Was Speaking To Erasmus The Voyage Of The Narwhal Is Full Of Blood Freezing Surprises, A Score Of Indelible Characters, And Heart Stopping Mysteries As Erasmus Watches Alexandra Draw Landscapes He Has Seen Before But Missed Something In, Each Pencil Stroke Is Like A Chisel Held To A Cleavage Plane Tap, Tap, And The Rock Split Into Two Sharp Pieces, The World Cracked And Spoke To Him Readers Of Andrea Barrett S Novel Will Experience This Sensation Again And Again Packed With Harsh Truths About The Not Always True Art Of Discovery, It Is Also Among The Most Emotionally Wrenching, Subtle Works Of The CenturyKerry FriedVoyage of the Narwhal

Andrea Barrett is the author of The Air We Breathe, Servants of the Map finalist for the Pulitzer Prize , The Voyage of the Narwhal, Ship Fever winner of the National Book Award , and other books She teaches at Williams College and lives in northwestern Massachusetts Librarian Note There is than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

[Epub] Voyage of the Narwhal By Andrea Barrett –
  • Paperback
  • 400 pages
  • Voyage of the Narwhal
  • Andrea Barrett
  • English
  • 14 October 2017
  • 9780006551416

10 thoughts on “Voyage of the Narwhal

  1. says:

    This is a book of fiction and fact While the background characters are real, the ones drawn in the plot are fictional There are many who prefer having historical facts woven into an engaging fictional story That is what this book achieves There is a huge amount of research on polar flora, fauna, history, expeditions, literature and way of life packed into this book You can read many books of non fiction or you can read this book and rest assured that what happens here has somewhere, sometime happened in real life This one book puts together all the diverse hardships explorers have encountered on innumerable polar expeditions Each chapter begins with a quote from literature on polar conditions, explorations, science or natural history In this way other books of reference are provided Darwin, Thoreau and Emerson we all recognize, but there are many, many referred to here, men such as William Scoresby, Elisha Kent Kane, Jean Louis Agassiz This one book is a trove of names and authors specializing on the arctic and natural history.It is appropriate that a book focused on natural phenomenon should have lyrical prose This does Nature is beautiful and so the lines describing it must be beautiful too The dialogs however are quite ordinary and sometimes anachronistic The book describes the era, the 1850s, well views on scientific theories, enthusiasm for the discovery and ...

  2. says:

    Andrea Barrett s novel about the era of discovery and exploration in the Arctic is intoxicating Especially for me after a diet of mysteries and thrillers that are often entertaining but rarely memorable, reading truly literary fiction by a master is like breathing pure oxygen.What makes it literary is the combination of prose that is exquisite and robust at the same time characters that are subtle and nuanced and a riveting plot with emotional undercurrents that address basic human desires Barrett puts this all in a package that is also seamlessly entertaining.The main character is Erasmus Welles, a natural historian who in modern parlance would be called a loser He picks the wrong expeditions to accompany, the ones deemed largely to be a failure and which are forgotten or remembered only with embarrassment He is too self effacing and honest in an age and profession where the self aggrandizing egomaniacs willing to stretch the truth and even lie like the historical Kane or Erasmus s fictional nemesis Zeke are the ones who get the recognition and the glory.The novel tells the tale of one of the many expeditions in the mid 19th century that set out to find the famous explorer Franklin, who was lost with his crew in the Arctic It is Er...

  3. says:

    I gave up at p 70 Historical fiction for me is a genre that has to be done superbly, otherwise count me out The subject matter a mid nineteenth century arctic expedition was potentially interesting, but Barrett s prose is leaden, dead, and uninspired Who are these writers, who win Gugge...

  4. says:

    After posting this initially, I discovered some notes I made during the read, so I have done a bit of revision 26 10 15This story brings to life the world of arctic exploration, much in vogue in the nineteenth century I was expecting a tale of seafaring adventure, and while there is a very affecting evocation of the practicalities of sailing into the freezing waters of the north, with a rich picture of the provisioning, the conditions, the tasks of the voyagers, searching for traces of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin, the charting of the coastline, islands and bays, and the efforts at natural history research, rather token as it turns out the bulk of the time on board is taken up with view spoiler the wintering of the Narwhal when it gets stuck in the ice and the efforts of the remaining crew to return to Philadelphia once they abandon the stranded ship The search for answers about Sir John is a pretext for the real interests of Andrea Barrett in telling this tale, which are the disintegration of order and humanity among a group of isolated and stranded men and how reputations are made and lost She contrasts unsureness with certainly, particularly in the persons of ...

  5. says:

    I discovered Andrea Barrett via this thoroughly researched narrative about 19th century Arctic exploration, and she s now one of the authors whose work I snap up as soon as it appears in hardback Her talent is in combining science with literature in a fascinating and accessible way Here she manages to combine 19th century concerns emancipation of slaves, theories of evolution, an obsession with the Arctic with modern ones the role of women who have to stay at home and wait , personal growth, cultural imperialism, and how truth is relative She reminds me of George Eliot in the way that she takes a generous view even of the least admirable characters Early in the novel, her main character, Erasmus Wells, a repressed and unsuccessful 40 something naturalist, writes return return If I drew that scene I d show everything happening at once But when I describe it in words one thing follows another and everything s shaped by...

  6. says:

    I put off reading this book for too long, so I perhaps wasn t in the mindset to read it, knowing it had to go back to the library as soon as possible I started it on a Friday, which is never a good day to start a book for me, as the weekend is always distracting But I gamely tried to get as much under my belt as I could that Friday.I failed quite a bit that day I just couldn t get into the book It was dry, it was confusing Barrett added in little unexplained details that you knew would be explained later, but this is an affectation that bothers me quite a bit, as my memory, distracted as I am by my life, isn t as great as I would like But then something changed, and I m not sure where it did All of a sudden, I could see the Arctic landscape in my eye, with Erasmus and Zeke and Ned and Dr Boerhaave and the other men surviving the brutal Arctic weather as best as they could I found myself devouring words and pages, until I looked up after reading a hundred pages, thinking just a few minutes had passed I became invested in what happened to Erasmus, both physically and emotionally, and that ti...

  7. says:

    Meticulously researched novel of a fictitious Arctic expedition and its aftermath set roughly between 1850 and 1857, supposedly started as yet another gallant attempt to find the British explorer s John Franklin s lost expedition to chart a Northwest Passage 1845 1847.The author brilliantly chooses a historical period where the craze and romance of Arctic exploration led to a point where there were ten British and two US ships searching for Franklin as Wikipedia baldly puts it Eventually, ships and men were lost looking for Franklin than in the expedition itself.The polar regions exploration craze had its ups and downs since at least the sixteenth century, reaching epic proportions in the nineteenth century which would eventually lead to nationalist races to reach both the North Pole supposedly first reached by the American explorer Peary in 1909 and the South Pole reached by the Norwegian explorer Amundsen in 1911, just five weeks ahead of Scott I must have been about eleven or twelve years old when I first read Edward Evans mythical treatment of Scott s tragic expedition to the South Pole South with Scott, 1921 It would take me decades to come across Roland Hartford s controversial 1979 debunking of the myth in The Last Place on Earth Scott and Amundsen s Race to the South Pole In fact some years after the Apollo 11 moon landing, the ultimate twentieth century expedition...

  8. says:

    This book did what I hoped it would it brought me out of myself into a totally different world I know nothing about polar expedition but loved learning about it Now next on my list is Endurance.

  9. says:

    I chose to read this book because I have always been fascinated with polar exploration doomed expeditions I thought that this was what this book was about And in a minor way, it is But truthfully, it goes way beyond this expectation and way beyond this particular story line In 1855, all the news is about the missing Franklin expedition, gone to seek the north pole in the age of discovery From Philadelphia, Zeke Voorhees is mounting an expedition to either find Franklin or find some evidence that Franklin is dead Among the crew is Zeke s soon to be brother in law, Erasmus Darwin Wells Erasmus is a naturalist not a famous one by any stretch This voyage would be a chance for Erasmus to make something of himself he had earlier served on a Pacific Antarctic expedition with a captain who tormented the crew then stole the work Erasmus had done Erasmus felt that there was nothing he could have done at the time to stop any of it Erasmus has also been charged by his sister Lavinia to take care of Zeke no matter what happens and bring him back to her to marry ...

  10. says:

    I love Andrea Barrett s books I was really happy the other day to discover that there was an older novel of hers that I had forgotten about and hadn t had a chance to read yet The topic of the arctic exploration was also the perfect thing to read this February, what with the snow mounds outside my house taller than I am.Barrett s narrator s always have a slightly anachronistic modern sensibility, but I enjoy them and can connect with them Her writing plays with ideas of how scientific thinking has shaped people s world views, and how people in different time periods are presented with and make sense of the current scientific thinking of the day In this novel, set in the 1850 s, she has the narrators struggle with the variety of plant species in different climates and the ideas in the 19th century from Agassiz about the relationship of human peoples to each other and to their landscape.She a...

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