What be a pirate's favourite novel?
July 28, 2010 10:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions for novels and short stories about piracy, with some specifications.

I'm putting together for myself a reading list of prose fiction or non-fiction that deals with pirates and piracy. However, I want to limit my search to a certain time period—a "long" nineteenth century (say the American Revolution to World War I)—and to American literature. Any suggestions for good, literary fiction? I have a few things on my list already, including Melville's "Benito Cereno," Cooper's The Red Rover, and Frank Norris's Moran of the "Lady Letty", as well as a long list of captivity narratives and so on from the Tripolitan War, but I am hoping the Hive Mind can help me expand.

I have seen this question but my search is a bit more specific.

Any suggestions? They don't necessarily have to be "fun" reads. I'm also not very interested in contemporary historical research (I've seen this thread), though nineteenth-century historical or non-fictional accounts that deal with pirates and piracy would be welcome, too.
posted by synecdoche to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'd suggest extending your timeframe backwards by about a hundred years. The Golden Age of Piracy spanned approximately from 1650 to 1720.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:23 AM on July 28, 2010

A pirate's favourite novel would be "On Stranger Tides" by Tim Powers. However, that is a fantasy novel which doesn't reallty fit within your stated criteria. But as the pirates would say, criteria be damned! And a pirate's favourite song is "Lincoln Park Pirates" by Steve Goodman.
posted by grizzled at 10:30 AM on July 28, 2010

Not sure if this is quite what you are looking for, but Pussy, King of the Pirates by Kathy Acker is fantastic.
posted by archimago at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2010

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini is set around 1688, only slightly before your requested time frame. Much of the historical background is based on fact so there's that going for it, plus there's a movie with Errol Flynn!
posted by Allee Katze at 11:33 AM on July 28, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far, but I want to clarify that I am restricting my search to this time period for a good reason. I'm building a bibliography for a project that is confined to this period.
posted by synecdoche at 11:42 AM on July 28, 2010

I'm not sure these fit your bill but Jules Verne adventure novels often include pirates even if they're not exactly er... pirating like erroll flynn. Also, failed pirates.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 1:08 PM on July 28, 2010

The USS Constitution was built to address problems US merchant vessels were encountering along the northern coast of Africa, and dealt with it rather successfully. Books about that period might tickle your fancy. An Amazon search for "Barbary pirates" turns up novels by a small handful of American authors. (I'm leaving out Patrick O'Brian and C. S. Forester, who both dealt with piracy during your special period, as they're Brits.)

Sorry I can't personally vouch for any of these, as I haven't read them.
posted by richyoung at 3:52 PM on July 28, 2010

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