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Abstract

This chapter gives an outline of the study of sea literature in the past, arguing that the traditional maritime literary studies and maritime cultural history haven’t looked at the oceanic environment as a whole, which resulted in too much an emphasis on fishing, trading, voyages, explorations on the ocean. Such a slant view to maritime activities might have to do with: first, humans’ existence as terrestrial beings, who have tended to look at the ocean as a plane figure; and second, the view that the land (terrestrial) and the sea (oceanic) are rigidly separated and opposed. As a new way to better look at sea literature, the author reinterprets some representative sea literature by finding how we can find oceanic experience embedded in some of the terrestrial experience. The authors to be mainly discussed are William Bradford, Olaudah Equiano, Washington Irving, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Joshua Slocum, and Peter Matthiessen.

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Notes

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  35. For example, Matthiessen’s later novels such as Shadow Country (2008) revolves around a tragic and violent life of Edgar J. Watson, who seems to represent in many ways the relationship between American culture and the natural environment. Or his first book of non-fiction Wildlife in America (1959) accounts a wide variety of the American natural life as well as its depletion.

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© 2014 Shin Yamashiro

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Yamashiro, S. (2014). American Sea Literature—on the Sea. In: American Sea Literature: Seascapes, Beach Narratives, and Underwater Explorations. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137463302_2

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