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The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper (edition 2005)

by Simon Leys

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805150,606 (3.55)9
Member:BlinkingSam
Title:The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper
Authors:Simon Leys
Info:Black Inc. (2005), Hardcover, 113 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:history, Australia exploration, Dutch off W Australia, Batavia, shipwreak, tuna fishing, Brittany

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The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper by Simon Leys

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Showing 4 of 4
Anabaptists is CRAZY! ( )
  KidSisyphus | Apr 5, 2013 |
This book contains two fragments - written at various times by Simon Leys (the nom de plume of the distinguished scholar Pierre Ryckmans). The first deals with material he had collected over a number of years with the intention of writing a detailed account of the fate of theDutch East India Company Batavia off the West Australian coast in 1629. Most of the crew and passengers were saved when the ship foundered. It is what happened after that thatis the stuff of a horror story. The blood curdling machinations read more like a Stephen King novel than simple historical fact. Leys kept being sidetracked by other projects and never wrote his book. He noew recommends we all read the truly excellent account Batavia's Graveyard by Mike Dash (2002).

The second fragment is an account, dating from 1967, of his time as a deck hand on the tuna fishing yawl Prosper. It is said to be one of the last fishing boats in Brittany powered exclusively by sail. It is a brief account of the day to day life aboard such a boat. The hard life and work is well drawn - it is only an extended essay but it is well worth the read.

Both of these essays are relatively short and they would appear to be written perhaps 30 plus years apart. Yet both are beautifully and elegantly written. Leys gives the impression such expression comes easily to him. ( )
  BlinkingSam | Nov 3, 2012 |
This is a strange little book. Just over a hundred pages, only the first fifty or so are about the famous shipwreck. The rest of the book is about a fishing trip the author took. The author is helpful by recommending a better book about the shipwreck by another author. ( )
  mstrust | Jun 2, 2009 |
The first book tells the remarkable, true story of the 'Batavia', a huge cargo vessel owned by the Dutch East India company [VOC] which was shipwrecked on route from Texel, Netherlands to Java in 1629. The story is extraordinary: about 200 passengers survive the wreck but are marooned on an archipelago off the coast of Western Australia. After the skipper, the supercargo and a few crew leave on the only remaining vessel to try to get help, the assistant supercargo takes control and with a few other mutineers organises the massacre of the survivors. The story is incredible, almost a perfect allegory for the ease with which humankind unleashes the evil within.

The second story maintains the theme of sailing. It is the author's first person narrative account on 'Prosper': one of the few remaining sailing boats that were still used for commercial fishing expeditions in Brittany circa 1958. It's a nostalgic look at a way of life and a set of skills that are now long gone. The sense of comradeship between the crew, the juxtaposition of the sailors’ skills and life-saving knowledge with their superstition and suspicion of life-boats, and the addiction to wine are carefully portrayed. Between marée (fishing trips) the crew seem lethargic, indifferent and drunk, but on board they are invigorated with the energy of the sea.

Both stories are well researched and concisely told. If anything, 110 pages just wasn't long enough. ( )
  ErasmusBee | Feb 17, 2009 |
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Epigraph
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke
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for Hanfang
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For three hundred years - from the end of the fifteenth century to the end of the eighteenth - Western navigators explored the world and developed vast commercial empires.
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Traces the harrowing 1629 shipwreck of nearly three hundred survivors on small islands off the coast of western Australia who found themselves at the mercy of a visionary psychopath and his team of supporters, a group that brutalized the survivors before eventually slaughtering them in an organized massacre.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1863953264, 1863951504

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