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Titanic by Filson Young
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Titanic (1912)

by Filson Young

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This was a beautifully written account by an American journalist in May 1912 covering the birth, life and death of the great ship. He brings across very well the microcosm of 1912 society that she represented. The author is quite an egalitarian, criticising the upper classes for their arrogance and hubris, while praising the silent heroism of the stokers and engineers who kept the ship alive for as long as they could to allow even the one third of those who did survive to do so. On the other hand, he also thinks that J Bruce Ismay is beyond criticism. There was nothing terribly new here, but this was an evocative and haunting piece of writing. 5/5 ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 30, 2012 |
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Epigraph
I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion.
His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.
One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.
Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
The flakes of his flesh are joined together; they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.
He maketh the deep to boil like a pot; he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.
Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
He beholdeth all high things; he is a king over all the children of pride.

Job, xli.
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If you enter Belfast Harbour early in the morning on the mail steamer from Fleetwood you will see far ahead of you a smudge of smoke.
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This was one of the first books to appear after the sinking of the Titanic, published just 37 days after the disaster, and despite the haste it is one of the most stylish and well-written of the early works. Its author, Filson Young, was a respected journalist who had already used his columns in the London Saturday Review and the Pall Mall Gazette to call for better safety at sea, and for all ships to have properly-manned radios. Having sailed the Atlantic himself, and knowing several of the passengers on board the doomed liner, his book combines an imaginative telling of the first few days on board, with a vivid account of the sinking based on early survivor interviews. In 1932 the BBC asked Filson to dramatise the book for radio, but a public outcry forced them to reconsider: even after twenty years, his recreation of the sinking was still too powerful for many of their audience.
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The story of the Titanic is well known, but in the months following the disaster speculation was rife. Providing a dramatic narrative of its fateful voyage, Filson Young's book is based on first-hand accounts collected in the days and weeks which followed the 15th of April 1912.… (more)

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