The Wreck of the Medusa: The Most Famous Sea Disaster of the Nineteenth Century

The Wreck of the Medusa: The Most Famous Sea Disaster of the Nineteenth Century

by Jonathan Miles

The Wreck of the Medusa is a spellbinding account of the most famous shipwreck before the Titanic, a tragedy that riled a nation and inspired Théodore Géricaults magnificent painting The Raft of the Medusa .

Without a compass or many provisions, hit by a vicious storm the first night, and exposed to sweltering heat during the following days, the group set upon each other: mayhem, mutiny, and murder ensued.

When rescue arrived thirteen days later only fifteen were alive.

Among the handful of survivors from the raft were two men whose written account of the fiasco became a bestseller that rocked Frances political foundations and provided graphic fodder for Géricaults world-famous painting.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.61
  • Pages: 310
  • Publish Date: October 10th 2007 by Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Isbn10: 0871139596
  • Isbn13: 9780871139597

What People Think about "The Wreck of the Medusa: The Most Famous Sea Disaster of the Nineteenth Century"

A solid and extremely interesting look at a historic event, with plenty of the arts and culture of the time to add fine context.

The only lighthearted note to the story is found in a few brief pages about the British obsession with a tale that so obviously portrayed their recent maritime enemies in a poor light.

If only the author had read a book I recently devoured about the General Slocum Steamboat Disaster by Edward T. But the author of this book seems to think that the painting, or rather the painter, is more important than the event.

Sul manuale su cui ho studiato Storia dellarte al liceo, scritto da Giulio Carlo Argan, cè scritto che Lopera più famosa di Géricault è Le radeau de la Meduse, cominciata nel 1818, due anni dopo la tragica vicenda dellammutinamento, del naufragio, della lunga odissea dei superstiti di una fregata francese al largo della costa africana. Per farlo, per capire meglio il dipinto e anche un periodo convulso della storia francese, ho dovuto leggere La zattera della Medusa di Jonathan Miles.

What I found boring was the too long overview of the French Revolution which I already knew plenty about, and how long the book went on for waaaaaay after much to do about the shipwreck was being discussed-it went on to talk all about more political things-like the battle for the abolition of slavery, etc., which wasn't all that pertinent to the Medusa shipwreck-a couple paragraphs would've explained how it fit in, instead of a very, very long chapter. Anyways, I don't think this book would be very interested to someone who wasn't originally interested in the shipwreck, the French revolution and political state, and Gericault the artist...but, I certainly don't regret reading it.

An incompetent commander placed in charge of a French warship for reasons of having the right politics, though almost thirty years removed from his last stint in the navy. The wreck, more importantly the government's responsibility and its efforts at cover-up, became a touchstone for dissidents in post-Napoleonic France. There were the neo-con utlra-royalists who wanted take the monarchy back to the absolute power the nobility enjoyed 30 years ago, before the French Revolution. We are treated to a lively discussion of the political events that followed the wreck, and are treated to biographies of many of the key players.

The Wreck of the Medusa is a shipwreck story not for the faint of heart. A recolonization of Senegal by the French is the expedition's purpose, so the Medusa was not only carrying crew, but colonists as well. A raft is constructed for the colonists which would be towed to shore by the five boats. The story of the Medusa is a ghastly one.