The Saga of "Cimba" (Sailor's Classics)

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9780071372251: The Saga of

The Saga of Cimba describes Richard Maury's 1934-35 voyage from New York to Fiji in the small, 35-foot, Nova Scotia-built schooner Cimba. It was a voyage of high adventure, undertaken when such voyages were almost unheard of. Maury and his crew of one survived two major storms in the Atlantic. In the book's riveting conclusion, he loses his beloved boat in another storm, on the reefs of Fiji. But what distinguishes this book more than anything else is the quality of Maury's writing, which over the years reviewers have likened to that of Richard Henry Dana, Antoine de Saint Exupery, even to Conrad. In Jonathan Raban's words, "There is a lovely clarity about Maury's writing: it's unaffected, free of journalese, simple and vivid. It's the kind of book that you can pick up a couple of years after your first reading of it, and it will surprise you with its freshness." First published in 1939, the last known edition of The Saga of Cimba was in 1973. It is long out of print. After a long career as a professional mariner, Richard Maury died in 1998. After writing this one lovely book, he never wrote another. We have exclusive publishing rights from his estate. As a volume in The Sailor's Classics, The Saga of Cimba will feature a 2,500-word introduction by Jonathan Raban, which will explore Maury's life, the history and condition of small-boat voyaging in the 1930s, and the significance of this book in the literature of the sea.

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From the Back Cover:

"There is a spare, taut beauty, a stinging intensity, a fine exhilaration, in this saga of wind and wave."--New York Times

"There have not been many [tales] like it, and none so brilliantly gleaming with such aspects of wind and sea."--Times Literary Supplement

In November 1933, 23-year-old Richard Maury set sail from Connecticut in Cimba, a 35-foot Nova Scotia schooner, leaving behind the icy grasp of a Depression-era New England winter. With one other crewman he shaped a course for the South Seas, where there were still islands so remote as to be reached only by perilous voyages across vast stretches of empty ocean. At that time such voyages were rarely undertaken in small boats, but Maury was determined to have the adventure while it could still be had.

Finely wrought, with elegant clarity, The Saga of Cimba is a magical book. In Jonathan Raban's words, "It is precisely because the voyage was so fraught with difficulty and tragedy, and Maury had to work so hard to reconcile the disasters that befell him with his steadfast love of the sea, that the book rings true. The joy is real, but it is wrested from the teeth of experience by a writer of quite extraordinary skill, cunning, and determination." Maury found the South Seas of his dreams, but in doing so he had to weather three storms, serious illness, the deaths of two friends, and finally, the loss of his beloved Cimba on the reefs of Fiji.

First published in 1939 and out of print for nearly three decades, The Saga of Cimba has been compared with the works of Dana, Conrad, and Saint-Exupery. Maury's exquisite depictions of the sea's almost unbearable beauty and annihilating fury are unforgettable. Truly, as Raban says, the startling brilliance of The Saga of Cimba qualifies it as one of the best books ever written about the sea.

"The most eloquent prose hymn ever written to the exhilaration, the beauty, and the sheer joy of being at sea."--from the introduction by Jonathan Raban

"Not at all the conventional small-boat yarn, for Mr. Maury can feel and he can write. . . . Superior adventure, whose spirit recalls that of the books of Anne Morrow Lindbergh."--The New Yorker

"What comes back to you, overwhelmingly and beautifully, is [Maury's] enormously successful description of what it's like to sail a small boat across the Pacific."--San Francisco Chronicle

"One of the best sea yarns of all time."--Rudder

About the Author:

Richard Maury was born on St. David's Island, Bermuda, in 1910, a descendant of famed pioncering oceanographer and hydrographer Matthew Fontaine Maury. At the age of 8 he owned and sailed his first boat, but soon thereafter a childhood illness that was long to plague him ended for good his formal education. Even so, just as he taught himself to illustrate his own literary efforts, so too did he train himself as a lucid, memorable writer of the sea. When, at 23, Maury sailed off in the Cimba, he was already something of a sea veteran, having served before the mast in the old full-rigged ship Tusitala as well as several tramp freighters of that period. Nor was the sea ever to disenchant him: he stayed a master mariner on deepwater vessels throughout his working life. Maury died in Santa Barbara in 1998. After The Saga of Cimba, he never wrote another book. Born in England in 1942, Jonathan Raban taught English literature before becoming a full-time writer in 1969. He first lived in America as a visiting professor at Smith College in 1972. A full-time writer since 1969, his books include Soft City (1973), Arabia Through the Looking Glass (1979), Old Glory: A Voyage Down the Mississippi (1981 - winner of the W.H. Heinemann Award for Literature and the Thomas Cook Award), Foreign Land (1985), Coasting: A Private Voyage (1986), For Love and Money (1987), Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America (1990 - winner of the Thomas Cook Award), and Bad Land: An American Romance (1996 - a New York Times Editors' Choice for Book of the Year; winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; winner of the PEN West Creative Nonfiction Award; winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award). Paul Theroux called Bad Land "a masterpiece," and a recent Kirkus review of Raban's newest book, Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings (November 1999), calls him "one of the English-speaking world's great travelers and travel writers." Raban began sailing in the early 1980s. He has sailed alone around Britain and has spent much time afloat on the coastal seas of Europe. Since moving to Seattle in 1990, he sails a twenty-year-old Swedish ketch on the rim of the North Pacific. He edited The Oxford Book of the Sea in 1992. The Guardian has called him "the finest writer afloat since Conrad."

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