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Lost at Sea

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Lost at Sea

Tools for Navigation: Stories

Sometimes placing one’s self in an oceanic world relied more on familiar narratives than technical expertise.

Shakespeare. Plays. 1709. London, 1709

Shakespeare’s plays often employ the ocean as a literal setting and metaphor for instability.  This framework appears most dramatically in the opening of The Tempest. This illustration in Nicholas Rowe’s edition of Shakespeare represents the storm as pure disorder and maritime crisis. The mariners cling in terror to the masts while Ariel and his fellow spirits shoot fire and lightning into the rigging. The wizard Prospero, barely visible standing on shore, controls both order and chaos in the play, but he does not dominate this image.


Stories, cont'd



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Samuel Purchas. Purchas his pilgrimes. London, 1625

Shakespeare. Sonnets. London, 1609


Steve Mentz on the Importance of Stories

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