Sailing Alone Around the World (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Sailing Alone Around the World (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.7 253
by Joshua Slocum

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Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes &

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Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
In April 1895, at the age of fifty-one, Joshua Slocum departed Boston in his thirty-six-foot sloop Spray, a derelict boat he had rebuilt himself. Three years and 46,000 miles later he returned, having accomplished one of the greatest feats in maritime history—to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly. To crown the achievement, Slocum wrote this remarkable account of his voyage, Sailing Alone Around the World, an instant best-seller and one of literature’s greatest voyage narratives.

Despite having only a third-grade education, Slocum was as gifted a writer as he was a shipwright and navigator. In clear and vigorous prose, he paints a vivid, even poetic picture of his voyage with its many breathtaking sights and harrowing adventures—including skirting the paradisiacal South Sea islands, braving terrifying storms and treacherous coral reefs, and being chased by pirates. A portrait also emerges of the sailor himself, made up from Slocum’s heartfelt simplicity, wry sense of humor, meditative reflections on solitude, and ability to find companions in his animate and inanimate surroundings.

In the fall of 1909, Slocum set sail from Martha’s Vineyard and was never seen again. But his book survives as a testament to the skill, courage, and determination of the man known around the world as the patron saint of small-boat voyagers and navigators, and adventurers of every stripe. With 68 drawings and 3 original maps.

Dennis Berthold, Professor of English, has taught at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, since 1972. He specializes in nineteenth-century American literature and has published scholarly articles and books on Charles Brockden Brown, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Constance Fenimore Woolson.

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From Dennis A. Berthold’s Introduction to Sailing Alone Around the World


            There is nothing in sea literature like Sailing Alone Around the World, nor can there ever be again. Only one man was the first to sail around the world alone, and only one book recounts that astonishing voyage in his own words. This is that book.

            When Joshua Slocum left Boston on April 24, 1895, to sail around the world alone in the Spray, a 37-foot sloop he reconstructed himself, Mabel Wagnalls wrote in his log, “The Spray will come back” (Teller, Joshua Slocum, p. 77; see “For Further Reading”). Those words proved prophetic in more ways than one. Of course the Spray did come back three years later, anchoring on June 27, 1898, in Newport, Rhode Island. No one had ever circumnavigated the globe alone until Slocum did it, and not many have done so since. The Spray has also returned in the hundreds of full-sized replicas Slocum fans have built over the last century, many of them amazingly precise. Two books, Kenneth Slack’s In the Wake of the Spray (1966) and R. Bruce Roberts-Goodson’s Spray: The Ultimate Cruising Boat (1995), have documented this phenomenon, which began in 1903 and continues to the present. Between 1969 and 1995, Roberts-Goodson sold more than 5,000 sets of plans for Spray replicas of various sizes, and more than 800 of these have actually been built (Roberts-Goodson, p. viii). Hundreds of additional pleasure craft have been based on the Spray’s general lines and rig, and there are probably several thousand more inspired, to one degree or another, by Slocum’s modest sloop. Less ambitious Slocum fans can find kits in any good hobby store and build their own model at home. Right now, somewhere on the world’s oceans, someone is sailing a version of the Spray and keeping alive the remarkable story of a little boat that sailed around the world with only one crew member, the dauntless Yankee skipper Joshua Slocum.

As important as are the material reincarnations of the Spray, her voyage would be far less memorable if she had not also returned as a literary artifact, the inspiration and heroine, if you will, of one of the greatest sea narratives ever written. Like the Spray, Sailing Alone Around the World is Slocum’s original creation, and it has enjoyed a long life in many editions, reprintings, and retellings. It first appeared in serial form in Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, a popular periodical published in New York. As soon as the magazine series ended, Slocum’s tale was produced in book form, complete with the Century illustrations by Thomas Fogarty and George Varian. It sold 7,000 copies in its first year, and its original edition eventually sold more than 27,000 copies (Teller, pp. 179, 176). Since 1956 it has been widely available in paperback editions, including a dozen or so for young readers. Excerpts are frequently included in anthologies of nautical writing. It has been translated into Swedish, Polish, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Czech, and in 2003 and 2004, Japanese and Chinese. There is probably no time during its history that it has been out of print, an honor it shares with such American classics as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Portions of the book are frequently anthologized, and its durability has kept Slocum’s other extended sea narrative, Voyage of the Liberdade (1890), before the public as well. Slocum has his own author society, an active group of sailors, shipbuilders, and lovers of nautical literature who honor his boat, his book, and his remarkable feat with regattas, awards, a journal and newsletter, and various memorabilia, all available on the society’s website (see “For Further Reading”).

So for all his seeming obscurity in the world of American literature, Slocum’s journey has fostered a world unto itself, a place where dedicated men and women spend years studying details of his boat; rebuilding it out of wood, fiberglass, reinforced concrete, aluminum, or steel; replicating his journey in whole or in part; and reading again and again the story of his amazing voyage.

Given such interest in the man and his boat, one would think we would know more about him today. He has been favored with a tireless biographer, Walter Magnes Teller, who assembled most of the key facts and documents in Slocum’s life and interviewed Slocum’s remaining family in the 1950s. Besides Sailing Alone, Slocum left a small published legacy of two additional accounts of voyages; a souvenir pamphlet about the Spray; a few unpublished letters to his editors, government officials, family, and friends; and scattered newspaper interviews with inquisitive journalists. Teller has collected and published most of this material, and after reading it our first impression is that we know this man as we would a traveling companion. Throughout Sailing Alone Slocum appears honest, forthright, and direct, like Henry David Thoreau in Walden (1854), a man who cared more for truth than money, love, or fame. Slocum is much more modest and unassuming than Thoreau, however. His writing style is straightforward and lucid, his nautical terminology is appropriate and precise, and he achieves a consistent humor by gently mocking himself as well as others. He admits his shortcomings as well as his accomplishments, as when he confesses to getting lost at Cape Horn, or feeling anxious about lecturing, or being so afraid of meeting pirates in the Mediterranean that he completely reverses his itinerary by sailing west around Cape Horn instead of going east through the Suez Canal. Thoreau described how he single-handedly built a cabin for only $28.12½; similarly, Slocum describes building the Spray for only $553.62. But Thoreau does not include any plans. Slocum does, along with a detailed account of how he built the boat. His diagrams of the Spray’s profile, deck plan, and rigging are reprinted in nearly every edition. They lend his narrative authenticity and credibility and reinforce the impression of Slocum’s sincerity. He presents himself as the real thing, an honest-to-goodness Yankee ship captain with a yarn to share and the salty language for telling it.

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Sailing Alone Around the World (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 253 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stumbled across Sailing Alone Aound the World by chance. Slocum draws you into his world as he travels from port to port and battles gales and the deadly Southern Ocean. Throughout the novel we learn what it really means to travel solo and find interpeace.
Eric-L More than 1 year ago
I bought this on a whim while I was looking through the B&N Classics section. Joshua Slocum writes so honestly and eloquently. Thoroughly enjoyable, this work will take you around the world and show you the indomitable spirit of an honest sailor.
AuburnWriter More than 1 year ago
It's not Treasure Island but it is an epic true story of a man who sailed the earth alone. Knowing the story is true and the recurring dangers that Slocum faced will pull you through this great book. As for the format, it's easy to read and the occasional the sketches of scenes from the book are a pleasure to behold.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Considered with the greats Beariful prose tells of a sailor who restores an old dilapidared sailboat and sails it around the world single handed The Spray sails herself and overtakes ships with full crews An amazing boat Imagine pressing past Cape Horn only to find pirates on the other side If you sail you must read this captain's log i've never written a review before this, but I must encourage all who love great writing, great story telling, and a great story to honor this man bv reading his tale
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the adventures and tribulations. Great true story. Very memorable. Great writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found it to be a good book I followed Slocum's travels on Goggle Map which made it more interesting. I really liked the fact the book was free
Guest More than 1 year ago
Slocum is a fabulous writer and his story will amaze you as you imagine his journey in a handmade boat over 100 years ago. I loved reading this and will no doubt read it many times in the years to come. A true classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a Yankee Skipper, Capt. Slocum could probably relish his book¿s ability to still sell after one hundred and nine years. But the question on the reader¿s mind is still the one that annoyed him occasionally at ports of call on his voyage: ¿Where¿s the profit¿?¿ ¿What¿s the sense of trying to sail around the world alone, Captain?¿ or ¿Why read?¿ Captain Slocum may well have answered that, in his case, sailing beyond his geographical horizon took him beyond his psychological horizon. Not once, but so many times, that he found his place among men and intuitively his place in the universe. His is an account of a man discovering and being exactly where he¿s meant to be. What about us readers? Maybe we need the encouragement to find out, or, even, ask the question? Barnes & Noble combined a background and introduction that compliments the story well, so, read closely. If the story starts to read you continuing may lead to unsettling thoughts, feelings and questions. Careful, you know what Nazis did with that sort of book?
Anonymous 20 days ago
So there is this guy that I like and has been in my class for the fourth year now (l am in sixth grade) and I found out he likes me back he told me on hangouts. So yeah we are sort of a couple but at school he sort of ignores me but over email a such he is a great guy. Is this just shyness or something more? - Callie &#12485
Anonymous 25 days ago
Okay. I have liked a girl for two years since she moved to our ckass were close friends. But she kinda gives mixed messages like say she might be kinda flirty with me then throw herself at my friend. I dont really know what to do. Then i found out her best friend likes me. And i dont oike her but were friends. I dont want to ask one out and kinda reck friendship with the other. Any help? Thanks
Anonymous 26 days ago
Okay so I am 14 and in 8th grade. There is this guy that I like and have liked sence 6th grade. But he is one of the popular guys and I'm not even in the range of his group. Idk if he likes me but even if he did I dont think the realtionship would last long because of the popularity difference. How do I deal with that AND still try to get into a relationship with him? ;-; ~Riona<p> Btw, I larv yer one-shots ~PITP
Anonymous 27 days ago
Chewy here! I decided to start and advice column? Yeah. So you guys can ask me any type of question and l'll try to help as best as l can. <p> ~ &sigmav<_>h<_>&epsilon<_>&omega<_>y :3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting read. Vivid imagery. Adventurous. On the edge of my seat throughout an interesting trip around the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A grand story from a time when sailors still found adventures and oceans to tame. At times this is not an easy read. The story is from 1896 therefore the writing style and language are a bit archaic, and the reader is assumed to know sailing terms. But the allure of just being able to walk away and sail off into the sunset is timeless. He tells the tale, both good and bad, as he lives among the waves, and the ports in lands in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely one of the best books I've ever read (read it about 6 times). Slocum's style is timeless, his humor is wonderful, his story is one of a kind and in fact no one else in the world can tell a story anywhere near this one. I've never even heard of anyone with nards as big and my dad had brass ones! Joshua tells an amazing and true story in this book, I'm proud to say it's by far one of my favorites! (I don't get paid for this - HA!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sheugs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But what does it mean? Why did it show up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stomp my foot and a shock travels through the ground that cuts off her telepathy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey guys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Telports back and brings the flat of his blade down on Percys heaf. He gets knocked out cold. Gtg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wakes up and stretches on the grass.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I'm bored."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Hey guys."