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The Sea and the Jungle

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  128 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Considered a masterpiece of travel literature for nearly a century, The Sea and the Jungle is a wise and witty book of firsts: ostensibly a lighthearted story of a Londoner's first ocean voyage, it is also a carefully crafted journalistic account of the first successful ascent of the Amazon River and its tributary, the Madeira, by an English steamer. First published in 191 ...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published May 13th 1996 by Marlboro Press (first published 1912)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  128 ratings  ·  19 reviews


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Daren
Perhaps I had too high an expectation going into this book.
The opening of the blurb on the back cover was so appealing:
"Suppose you were a quiet, respectable, sedentary business or professional man, and the captain of a tramp steamer bound to South America and up the Amazon suddenly dropped into your peaceful office, invited you to go along with him, got your acceptance by a clever trick, and had you at sea before you could stop to think — wouldn't you expect to find 'something doing'?"

The boo
...more
Mikey B.
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amazonia, travelogue
A most fascinating travelogue of a man, who in 1910, upped and quit his London clerical job to embark on a boat journey into the Amazon River wilderness. Tomlinson’s descriptions of the voyage across the Atlantic and then the journey up the Amazon are exquisite.

His style – to some extent - is like Melville. His anecdotes of individuals encountered are like Somerset Maugham. The book is highly personal and Tomlinson brings us with him to the Amazonian. The sheer primeval jungle and remoteness in
...more
El
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Preface (1989) to Tomlinson's The Sea and the Jungle (1912), Evan S. Connell wrote:
According to the redoubtable traveler and storyteller Mr. Somerset Maugham, during the early part of the nineteenth century there were fewer amusements than there now are, one result being that readers did not mind if their fiction moved at a deliberate pace; they would accept with no reluctance "a dilatory exposition and a sauntering digressiveness." These days, however, in an age of multiple amusements, a
...more
Jim
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The travel gene is dominant in my make-up. (That's what comes of having been born in Cleveland.) I had heard of this book for decades: When I saw it on the shelf in the Santa Monica Public Library, I picked it up and checked it out. It took about three pages for me to get totally hooked, and that despite Evan S. Connell's warning about a possible "dilatory exposition and a sauntering digressiveness." Warnings like that, I take as a challenge.

The Sea and the Jungle is the story of H. M. Tomlinson
...more
Aaron
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Never having heard of H.M. Tomlinson, and never having read a travel book, it was Time Life's meager introduction which compelled me to purchase this volume for 75 cents. I both liked that it took place mostly on a ship, the Capella, and that the Amazon was visited.

The prose of Tomlinson was not at all that which I had expected it to be. I don't understand why he isn't more recognized. His writing is hauntingly poetic, eloquent, and descriptively detailed. He is never boring. His personality, hi
...more
Glenn
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the Publisher

Considered a masterpiece of travel literature for nearly a century, The Sea and the Jungle is a wise and witty book of firsts: ostensibly a light-hearted story of a Londoner's first ocean voyage, it is also a carefully crafted journalistic account of the first successful ascent of the Amazon River and its tributary, the Madeira, by an English steamer. One rainy morning in November 1909, Henry Major Tomlinson bid farewell to his family and set off to find his berth as purser abo
...more
Jack
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
The story of a man, who in 1910, left behind his London newspaper job to take a journey across the Atlantic and into the Amazon River wilderness. Tomlinson’s description of the trip across the Atlantic and up the Amazon is extraordinary. Tomlinson's accounts of his life at sea and Amazon River travel are unsurpassed. The Sea and the Jungle is a classic of its kind. It tells an engaging story of a journey away from the monotony of everyday life and is an exquisite example of travel writing at its ...more
Bob Newman
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Death by Chocolate---in print!

Well, an Englishman decides his work and family can be jettisoned for a few months and he heads off aboard a coal freighter from England to a town in the heart of the Amazon, down the Madeira River to a dot on the map called Porto Velho, almost to Bolivia. This is in 1909-1910. The sea is often rough, the life as "purser", not too demanding. He spends a great deal of time describing the moods of the ocean. Then they get to Brazil. The giant, unending forest amazes h
...more
Lee
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tomlinson is an incredibly good writer. He writes like honey taste, though sometimes his writing is too saccharine and can become verbose. I can see why Hemingway, writing just a decade later, moved as far from this kind of writing.

More problematic is Tomlinson's racism, which is omnipresent in all the writing from this period. However, the more I read the more I began to think that Tomlinson was dealing with race in a more complicated way. He uses racist language, but it is not entirely clear
...more
Jeannette
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: listened-to
I bought a paperback version of this book decades ago after reading that it was one of the great classics of travel literature. But I could never get into it; the writing was too dense. Only on the brink of a trip down the Amazon did I return to it -- this time in audible form. It still took me a while to accustom my ear to the florid and complex language, but once accustomed, I was dazzled by Tomlinson's power to describe the natural world. I've read few writers who are better at it. And it cer ...more
Mrs.Lady
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
A book you'll want to savor. On an impulse a young desk bound Englishman runs away to sea on a tramp steamer. High adventure for sure and for real. Descriptions of being at sea are quite vivid, you can feel the roll of the boat, the heat below decks, but also the glory of the open ocean. And then the mystery of heading up the Amazon when so little was known of it. This book is a like finding a lost emerald gem.
Steven Kopp
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Aside from a couple brilliant passages, not that interesting.
Mark
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
A great travelogue recounting a sea voyage from Britain to Porto Velho on the Amazon river system in 1909 - 1910. I found it through James Mustich’s 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die. It was published in 1912 and is free as an e-book. As much as I liked it, be warned that I sometimes struggled with the author’s florid Edwardian prose. He can wax poetical when describing the Amazon, but also when discussing not much at all. His sentences may run on and sometimes run backward. There are scattered ...more
Dave
Jun 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Reminded me of the Bill Bryson travel book- Walk in the woods- some nice humor at times. Nothing as bleak or dangerous as River of Doubt- Teddy R's adventure the Amazon a few years later. The Atlantic trip was something else...hard to believe people traveled that way. Not a very scientific book, but good descriptions and details- which really brought the last half of the book to life. I sense this was pretty exotic in 1912...not so much in 2015.
Clark Hays
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A cool, casual trip through a "green hell"

This is one of my favorite books of all time. His casual almost deadpan descriptions of the Amazon, the horrors of the rubber trade and the realization that the "civilized world" is but an outpost on the very fringe of an always seething and always apathetic nature are illuminating and deeply enjoyable.
Thom Dunn
{Mine is the 1964 Time Incorporated reprint of the 1912 ...Like all these early Time editions it is all but useless. Open it anywhere and it will crack into two separate pieces. ......Yes, yes...musn't grumble. Still...}
Rachel
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.
Christine R Hainley
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Jun 12, 2019
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Nov 18, 2009
Judith Allen
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Oct 10, 2017
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Apr 18, 2019
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Henry Major Tomlinson
“We borrow the light of an observant and imaginative traveller, and see the foreign land bright with his aura; and we think it is the country which shines.” 1 likes
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