The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a time of great colonial expansion, marked by a mercantile frenzy of ships carrying merchants, aristocrats, missionaries, sailors, Inquisitors, botanists, and statesmen pursuing the spoils of empire. Among the narratives that chronicled these voyages, those of the Portuguese are unequaled. C. R. Boxer's fascinating translations of famous Portuguese shipwreck stories detail the disasters and terrors plaguing the perilous sea trading route between Portugal and India.
In the tradition of Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Defoe, and Poe, these dramatic stories of shipwreck-and those who lived to tell about it-represent existence and survival pushed to the limits. They describe disastrous turns of fate and miraculous rescues, heroism and cowardice, and offer the exhilaration and sheer emotive appeal of a tale of adventure well told. Often circulated in pamphlet form, these stories recounting the dangers and terrors of storm-tossed ocean voyages and the fate of castaways in distant lands were a popular genre, rife with compelling and often gory details.