Risingtidefallingstar: In Search of the Soul of the Sea

Philip Hoare. Univ. of Chicago, $20 (416p) ISBN 978-0-226-56052-6
All streams flow into the deep in this meditation on the sea. Hoare (The Sea Inside) draws on all manner of lore, blending travelogue from atmospheric English seaports and windswept Cape Cod, observations of whales and other creatures living and dead (he is forever poking through the remains of seabirds, deer, and dolphins), family stories, folklore, and historical accounts of shipwrecks and naval battles. The book’s heart comes from his many biographical sketches of writers and their depictions of the sea, examining sea imagery in Shakespeare’s Tempest; the watery Romanticism unto death of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron; Jack London’s take on what it’s like to drown; Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dread of the sea, where her brother and best friend were lost; and WWI soldier-poet Wilfred Owen’s journey across the English Channel to the sodden, nightmarish world of trench warfare. Hoare examines everything the surf throws at him with raptly evocative prose: “The great whales trap the sand eels in their bubble nets, rising through the corralled fish with mouths open wide, throats like rubbery concertinas, pleats clattering with barnacles like castanets.” This is a mesmerizing drift along the flows and ebbs of sea-borne life and death. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/26/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-226-56049-6
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