Thursday, June 20, 2013

Title Chase: The Sea is My Brother, by Jack Kerouac

I've been working my way through Kerouac's first and, until it was released posthumously two years ago, rightly unpublished, novel The Sea is My Brother . The book draws on Kerouac's own brief experience in the Merchant Marine. Or, at least, that's what I thought it would be about. Here's where the title comes from:
“Perhaps the old adage, “We’re all in the same boat” went without saying in the Merchant Marine and seamen resigned themselves to one another quite philosophically. And of course, like the slogan he had heard of—a famous placard above the door of the Boston Seamen’s Club—which said, very simply, that all those who passed under the arch of the door entered into the Brotherhood of the Sea—these men considered the sea a great leveler, a united force, a master comrade brooding over their common loyalties.”
I'll have more to say about the book later on, but I thought the title was a good one. That is, until you consider the make-up of the book:


Perhaps Kerouac's "brief experience" in the Merchant Marine was briefer than we thought. Afterall, we know his active duty in the US Navy lasted all of 8 days before he was diagnosed with dementia praecox and honorably discharged.

1 comment:

  1. In point of fact, the Merchant Marine was and is not part of the US Navy. The officers and sailors in the Merchant Marine are civilians. During peacetime the Merchant Marine operates commercially transporting passengers and cargo, but during wartime it can used as an auxiliary to the US Navy even though officers and crew remain civilians. Kerouac served in the Merchant Marine BEFORE he enlisted in the US Navy. He made one trip on the USS Dorchester in the summer of 1942, after which in December 1942 Kerouac enlisted, and on February 26, 1943 he was sent to the Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island. It was while he was in boot camp here that Kerouac was discharged.

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