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The Sea, Matthiessen and Far Tortuga,
This review is from: Far Tortuga (Panther) (Paperback)
One can speak easily of Hemingway, Joyce, Orwell or Fitzgerald in terms of the greatest authors of the twentieth century. But what what of these others? What of a man like Peter Matthiessen who wrote a book like "Far Tortuga?"
"Far Tortuga" is unquestionably one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. History will bear out this assertion. In "Far Tortuga" we are presented with reality painted in dreamlike intensity. All of the the minor aches, pains and idiosyncracies of day to day life are there, yet they are drawn against a backdrop of unforgiving, almost monumental, natural power.
In the final analysis, though the details are subject to change, is this not the world that each of us faces on a day to day basis?
In his stark and almost poetry-like portrayal of life aboard a small turtle vessel, Matthiessen is able to address everything that is meaningful in all of our lives. There is jealousy, there is random hatred, there is competition for its own sake, there is hunger and there is solitude. There is anger, there is pride, there is shame and there is repentance. What doesn't Matthiessen touch upon in this great novel? There is sorrow, there is fear, there is unreasoning hatred and greed. There are moments of selflessness, there are moments of joy, there are moments of doubt and there are moments of ambition.
It is a rare novel that is able to pack the sum of human experience into one tale. Matthiessen does it in "Far Tortuga."
The novel has not recieved the glory it deserves, yet. One day it will.
One day it will be known for the work of genius that it is.
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Initial post: Apr 11, 2014 5:50:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 11, 2014 5:54:06 PM PDT
John Miles says:
This is an old review but it takes on some prominence with Matthiessen's death. I think highly of what John Paul Morgan said here twelve years ago. I have been writing and expressing similar sentiments to friends and colleagues since the late 70's when I dropped Sun Also in favor of FT in my community college American Lit survey class. A couple years slow but had to wait for paperback publication. Clearly, Morgan's a genius!
Posted on Apr 19, 2014 5:41:37 PM PDT
I agree that the waters of the Bahamas are very colorful, but this book was written to the south of the Bahamas, in the Caribbean, between Grand Cayman and the east coast of Central America.
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