In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Preserving the Self in th... has been added to your Cart
+ CDN$ 6.49 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ships from the USA. Please allow 14-21 business days for delivery. Book has some visible wear on the binding, cover, pages. Biggest little used bookstore in the world.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Preserving the Self in the South Seas, 1680-1840 Paperback – Jun 15 2001

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
CDN$ 44.63
CDN$ 28.72 CDN$ 19.23

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • You'll save an extra 5% on Books purchased from, now through July 29th. No code necessary, discount applied at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 15 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226468496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226468495
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,157,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

The violence, wonder, and nostalgia of voyaging are nowhere more vivid than in the literature of South Seas exploration. Preserving the Self in the South Seas charts the sensibilities of the lonely figures that encountered the new and exotic in terra incognita. Jonathan Lamb introduces us to the writings of South Seas explorers, and finds in them unexpected and poignant tales of selves alarmed and transformed.

Lamb contends that European exploration of the South Seas was less confident and mindful than we have assumed. It was, instead, conducted in moods of distraction and infatuation that were hard to make sense of and difficult to narrate, and it prompted reactions among indigenous peoples that were equally passionate and irregular. Preserving the Self in the South Seas also examines these common crises of exploration in the context of a metropolitan audience that eagerly consumed narratives of the Pacific while doubting their truth. Lamb considers why these halting and incredible journals were so popular with the reading public, and suggests that they dramatized anxieties and bafflements rankling at the heart of commercial society.

About the Author

Jonathan Lamb is a professor of English at Princeton University. He is the author, most recently, of The Rhetoric of Suffering: Reading the Book of Job in the Eighteenth Century and coeditor of Exploration and Exchange: A South Seas Anthology, 1680-1900 and Voyages and Beaches: Pacific Encounters, 1769-1840.

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9addfbdc) out of 5 stars 1 review
HASH(0x9b3055a0) out of 5 stars "Preserving the Self in the South Seas, 1680-1840" by Jonathan Lamb March 17 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Preserving the Self in the South Seas, 1680-1840 (2001), Jonathan Lamb asserts that voyages by explorers to the South Seas took place in a contested and unclear environment. The recollections of their journeys are therefore void of any sense of reality and must be viewed not in “the truth they produced (for they were broadly regarded as lies) but in terms of their potent dramatization of the feelings incident to the preservation of the self” (6). Moreover, these vivid and intense tales concerning the preservation of the “self” in the South Seas is what fed a growing body of voyage or travel literature. The most popular works among the reading public in England during this time is what makes up a skillful and analytical discussion by Lamb in this work of both historical and literary merit.
Part of the reason why this book is worthy of such praise involves Jonathan Lamb’s handling of the historiography of his topic. A careful examination of both the introduction and sources in the index indicate a lack of consultation by him of anyone else who might have written about the preservation of the “self” in the South Seas from 1680-1840. There is no direct evidence of the author’s views on how this work fits in to what other people might have said about his subject, which, to say the least, is quite surprising. What effectively addresses this, however, is the exhaustive amount of research and references to sources Lamb incorporates with such finite precision throughout the book. Moreover, Lamb’s blatant disregard of the historiography is excusable only because it appears the subject of his work is incredibly narrow in focus and at the same time unique in its approach. It is therefore possible to conclude or view this work by Lamb as both pioneering in what it discusses as well as authoritative in nature.
Among the chapters in this book by Jonathan Lamb on the preservation of the “self” in the South Seas from 1680-1840, two are worth noting and discussing at some length. The first one is Chapter Two, “The Romance of Navigation.” This part of the book stands out because not only does it represent Lamb’s argument in general but also quite cleverly, points out that stories involving self-preservation also stimulated the economic appetite of its readers in the hopes of expanding the British Empire. Lamb references several literary works from the year 1712, which include Edward Cooke’s A Voyage to the South Seas, Woodes Rogers’ A Cruising Voyage round the World, and one by Daniel Defoe titled Essay on the South-Sea Trade. These literary works are “intended to pique public curiosity about the possibility of establishing a trade route in the Pacific” (51). Defoe is one individual who felt strongly about this and the possible effect it could have on the travel of British merchant ships. He discusses this in The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719), where he imagines or “mythologizes the isolated British presence in distant seas not as the acquirement of fabulous personal wealth and treasure, but as an infant colony capable of resupplying British merchant shipping” (52).
In addition to discussing the idea of self-preservation in an economic sense, Lamb believes another purpose of these stories involves the preservation of one’s own health. More specifically, preventing bouts of scurvy where a vile sensation of rottenness “caused the bodies of the mariners to grow foul and degenerate” (116). In response to this, mentioned often is the name of Captain James Cook, who apparently dealt a severe blow to this medical malady of the high seas. However, Lamb is correct in pointing out that there is no conclusive proof or consensus on which of Cook’s methods worked better, such as the eating of sauerkraut, which is rich in Vitamin C. Out of all of them, Lamb sides with the views of Thomas Trotter in his book Observation on the Scurvy (1792). Cook’s success according to Trotter relied more on the psychological in “pointing out the huge difference between the esprit de corps of a ship bound on a voyage of discovery and that of a vessel engaged in station duty” (129). Trotter believes that even though the threat of scurvy lurked in the back of every sailor’s mind, maintaining a positive frame of reference was just one way in the preservation of the “self” and something Cook utilized in his voyages to the South Seas.
This work by Jonathan Lamb is commendable for two main reasons. It is incredibly original in the choice of topic and the scholarship put forward by him in its development has added another perspective to the study of voyages by explorers to the South Seas from 1680-1840. In fact, Lamb has succeeded in widening the lens of a scholar who studies this topic on a regular basis or just the ordinary individual who has a dedicated interest. What is also praiseworthy of this work is the incredible amount of ease he uses to his benefit in analyzing and discussing various works of literature. Even though he is a professor of English, the skill he employs in analyzing the concept of self-preservation in the South Seas through certain works of literature is highly admirable. An example of this is his discussion of the idea of self-preservation in examining the plot of Robinson Crusoe. According to him, the island Crusoe is located on is reflective of “the two opposite moods of self-preservation, the constraint and the reach of an individual who is thrown alone into an empty place but finds the means to set a table in the wilderness” (184). The type of literary analysis Lamb offers here, combined with his choice of such a unique topic are two ingredients among others that make this work a resounding success.
The only complaint with this book is that the author does not include endnotes. His citation of the works he uses appears in the text itself and they are an unusual sight for this type of writing. Even though there a couple of footnotes sprinkled throughout the book that he uses to briefly expand or clarify certain points he makes, not enough is provided on a consistent basis that is worth noticing. A minor flaw in an otherwise superbly written work by Jonathan Lamb.