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The Mutiny of the Elsinore

The Mutiny of the Elsinore by Jack London
By: (1876-1916)

This is the story of a voyage of a sailing ship from Baltimore to Seattle, east-to-west around Cape Horn in the winter. It is set in 1913 and the glory days of “wooden ships and iron men” are long over. The Elsinore is a four-masted iron sailing vessel carrying a cargo of 5000 tons of coal. She has a “bughouse” crew of misfits and incompetents.

This book was published in 1915 and some actions of some of the characters seem odd to us today. There is romance, but it is strangely platonic. Two important characters disappear with no real explanation. The disparity between the officers on the one hand and the fo’c’sle on the other is striking (literally). Some people will be offended by the bigotry.

The “men against the sea” descriptions -and the weather descriptions- are among Jack London’s finest. In my opinion he is right up there with Joseph Conrad and Joshua Slocum in this effort. We also have a mutiny, complete with shootings and deliberate starvation. My personal favorite is chapter 38. Note: The chapter titles were assigned by the reader. London gave only numbers. (Introduction by Tom Crawford)

First Page:

THE MUTINY OF THE ELSINORE

BY JACK LONDON

MILLS & BOON, LIMITED 49 RUPERT STREET LONDON, W.

Published 1915

Copyright in the United States of America by JACK LONDON

CHAPTER I

From the first the voyage was going wrong. Routed out of my hotel on a bitter March morning, I had crossed Baltimore and reached the pier end precisely on time. At nine o'clock the tug was to have taken me down the bay and put me on board the Elsinore , and with growing irritation I sat frozen inside my taxicab and waited. On the seat, outside, the driver and Wada sat hunched in a temperature perhaps half a degree colder than mine. And there was no tug.

Possum, the fox terrier puppy Galbraith had so inconsiderately foisted upon me, whimpered and shivered on my lap inside my greatcoat and under the fur robe. But he would not settle down. Continually he whimpered and clawed and struggled to get out. And, once out and bitten by the cold, with equal insistence he whimpered and clawed to get back.

His unceasing plaint and movement was anything but sedative to my jangled nerves... Continue reading book >>


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