Pirated Tars, Piratical Texts Barbary Captivity and American Sea Narratives HESTER BLUM The Pennsylvania State University For most nineteenth-century readers of American sea narratives, actual experience of maritime life was hardly a prerequisite for appreciating the textual matter at hand. In fact, most sea writing was prefaced by assurances to the landed reader who might be wary of salty or technical language. Truth-averring prefaces, which glossed or justified sailors' use of nautical terms, were conventions of the genre. Charles Barnard, for example, offered his nautical account ``to the judgement of his fellow citizens, dressed in the simple language of a seaman's journal''; he hoped ``it may be received with that indulgence which it claims as a narrative of sterling truth.''1 Nathaniel Taylor similarly saluted the launch of his narrative: ``Going forth to the world, it claims but one merit--fidelity to truth--and welcomes the reader to the iron realities of a sailor's home and a sailor's heart.''2 Another seaman author, John Sherburne Sleeper, confessed that his narrative ``may not contain much which is extraordinary or exciting; but the pictures it furnishes of `life at sea,' the illustrations it gives of the character of the sailor, the temptations by which
Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Oct 23, 2003
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