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Os Justi Press

The Cruise of the Nona

The Cruise of the Nona

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In The Cruise of the ‘Nona,’ Hilaire Belloc sets off “to sail the English seas again, and to pursue from thought to thought and from memory to memory such things as have occupied one human soul.” On one level a breezy record of an adventurous journey; underneath the surface, a wise and insightful study of modern life, particularly in its transition from the Victorian to the early modern period. Belloc’s prose glitters and crashes like ocean breakers.

Belloc sees sailing as an analogy to life: full of “great visions” and “intolerable tediums,” “alive with discovery, emotion, adventure, peril, and repose.” For Belloc, the sea “presents, upon the greatest scale we mortals can bear, those not mortal powers which brought us into being. It is not only the symbol or the mirror, but especially is it the messenger of the Divine.”

 Belloc leads his reader over the changing seas, treating of many questions, including:

  • How did the Vikings land in what are today impassable harbors?
  • When and why did the British Parliament become so corrupt?
  • What is the difference between prose and rhetoric?
  • Can you trust learned scholars?
  • Are sea monsters real?
  • Will Alice in Wonderland remain a popular book?
  • Why are oceans so different from one another?
  • Is human “equality” a Catholic doctrine?

Mulling over half a century of memories and experiences, the seaman-philosopher shares a hundred and one reflections, flights of fancy, and tongue-in-cheek observations on England and Europe, Catholicism, atheism, sailing techniques, and common-sense. From his memories of the outbreak of the first World War to denunciations of rationalism, this cruise can transport the reader from his armchair to the lashing spray and biting wit of this monumental figure of English literature. 

“Everything Belloc touched turns to magic for me. This book, however, is the closest the great man ever came to autobiography.” —Roger Buck

 “Belloc thought that the cruising of a boat is akin to the adventure of a human soul… undertaken with purpose yet subject to innumerable diversions; aided by unforeseen blessings and opportunities yet troubled by terrible anxieties. Abroad on the sea provides the full model and symbol of human life, and thus the suitable setting for the chance thoughts of one human being.” —Karl Schmude

 “The yacht seems to stop at intervals to make meditations on all sorts of subjects—capitalism, the Great War, Catholicism, and the rest—the various points of the author’s many-sided philosophy. Then it gives, as it were a twist of the tiller and returns to its jibs and booms.” —A. E. Clery


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