Jeffrey A. Auerbach

in Imperial Boredom

Published in print October 2018 | ISBN: 9780198827375
Published online November 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780191866258 | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Social and Cultural History


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Chapter 1 contends that long-distance voyages became increasingly tedious during the nineteenth century as navigational techniques improved and as the novelty of sailing to India and Australia wore off. Whereas in the eighteenth century ships had made frequent stops for water and provisions and to engage in trade, by the nineteenth century voyages to the East were generally made nonstop and out of sight of land for almost the entire distance. Shipboard diaries make clear that the worst part about these journeys was not the storms or cramped cabins, but the boredom of spending day after day out on the water with nothing to break up the monotony. If in the seventeenth and eighteenth century a voyage to India was a treacherous journey into the unknown, by the mid-nineteenth century it had become a cheerless interlude.

Keywords: ocean voyages; long-distance travel; shipboard life; navigation; monotony; diaries; James Cook

Chapter.  16543 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Social and Cultural History

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