Need recommendations on stories of journalists living in exotic locales and covering colonial life, OR stories of people traveling on long voyages by ship.
August 16, 2012 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I need recommendations on stories of journalists living in exotic locales and covering colonial life, OR stories of people traveling on long voyages by ship.

I'm doing research for a writing project and I need some source material for narratives in which a character travels to a colony in an exotic locale. The trip might involve some encounters with strange sea-faring folk and tales of strange things encountered in the ocean. European colonial-era narratives obviously would work well here, but I need some recommendations on where to get started. Fiction or non-fiction – depiction of life is more important than factual accuracy.
posted by deathpanels to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This incredible FPP has links to dozens of public domain mission/colonial narratives, mostly from the late 19th/early 20th century.
posted by theodolite at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2012

Coming of Age in Samoa.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2012

If you want stories from the perspective of the sailor, then Melville has plenty of stories that are accurate.
posted by JJ86 at 8:54 AM on August 16, 2012

You may be interested in ethnographies. I read a bunch in an anthro class in high school, but the only one I really remember is one by Napoleon Chagnon on the Yanomamo.
posted by phunniemee at 8:55 AM on August 16, 2012

Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle features a lot of colonial-era ship-travel. A good chunk of it is in the book Bonanza which part of The Confusion.
posted by griphus at 8:55 AM on August 16, 2012

Richard Henry Dana's "Two Years Before the Mast" is a firsthand account of working on a sailing ship in the 1830s. It was a trading ship, not a passenger ship, but the work would have been much the same.
posted by Longtime Listener at 8:55 AM on August 16, 2012

Also, Dana's Two Years Before the Mast is a classic of the True Adventures at Sea genre.
posted by theodolite at 8:57 AM on August 16, 2012

Roughing It by Mark Twain has one part of his journey when he sails to Hawaii and interacts with the natives, if that counts?
posted by Grither at 9:00 AM on August 16, 2012

A while ago I read Lis Sails the Atlantic, a nonfiction diary of a young girl sailing across the Atlantic in the early 20th century. She covers quite a bit regarding living on the ship, and they hit some colonial locales.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2012

"The Quiet American" by Graham Greene.
posted by fso at 9:40 AM on August 16, 2012

George Orwell wrote a good bit about his time in Burma while it was a british colony; in particular his novel Burmese Days and the essay Shooting an Elephant. I would link to which should have them online, but google tells me it is infected with malware.
posted by TedW at 9:43 AM on August 16, 2012

Not journalists (usually) but there are some great accounts of travelers visiting Spanish America during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and writing about the exotic things they saw there. Some are online, some aren't, and some are in English and some aren't. Check:

d'Orbigny, Alcide Dessalines. Voyage pittoresque dans les deux Amériques. (Paris : Chez L. Tenré [etc.], 1836) (bonus: pretty pictures!)

Frézier, Amédée François, A Voyage to the South-sea, along the Coasts of Chili and Peru, in the Years 1712, 1713, and 1714. Translated by Edmund Halley. (London: J. Bowyer, 1716) (more pretty pictures!)

Gage, Thomas. The English American, His Travail by Sea and Land: or, A New Survey of the West Indies. (London: R. Cotes, 1648) (this one is SO GOOD because he is just the crankiest!)

Helms, Antonie-Zacharie. Voyage dans L’Amerique Meridionale, commencant par Buenos Ayres et Potosi jusqu’a Lima. Paris: Galignani, 1812.

Marcoy, Paul. Travels in South America, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. Vol. 1. 2 vols. London: Blackie & Son, Paternoster Buildings, E.C.., 1875.

and the sine qua non of traveler accounts in Spanish America is by Alexander von Humboldt, who was commissioned by the Spanish government to explore and write accounts of thier overseas viceroyalties in 1799. His writings on Spanish America are alternately mind-numbingly boring and staggeringly beautiful, and continue to be highly influential and discussed.

Alternatively, lots of the late Medieval accounts of the crusades and pilgrimages to the East have some great accounts of traveling by ship and seeing a new land for the first time. Take a look at Sir John Mandeville, Felix Fabri, and of course Marco Polo.

Sorry, got carried away there. I REALLY like traveler literature, apparently?
posted by EmilyFlew at 10:07 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Jack London's The Cruise of the Snark is pretty interesting. His experience visiting a leper colony in Hawaii might fit what you are looking for.
posted by Quonab at 10:34 AM on August 16, 2012

Not a journalist, per se, but a philosopher and revolutionary: Che Guevara, "Motorcycle Diaries"

Thor Heyerdahl and "Kon-Tiki"
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 11:36 AM on August 16, 2012

Fiction - Colleen McCullough's Morgan's Run is about a man who is convicted of a (minor)crime in Bristol and is sent for transporation to Australia in the earliest years of that practice. The descriptions of how he manages his own health and safety on the boat, and how he becomes a leader among the other convicts and among the sailors is something that has stayed with me years after reading this.
posted by CathyG at 11:49 AM on August 16, 2012

Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 2:52 PM on August 16, 2012

Slow Boats to China
posted by aqsakal at 8:03 AM on August 18, 2012

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