The Classical Unities are three principles of drama (derived , or perhaps misderived, from Aristotle) which, according to certain Italian and French literary critics of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, should govern the construction of any drama. They are:
–unity of action: a single plot line with no sub-plots
–unity of place: the events should be constrained to a single location
–unity of time: the events should be limited to the period of a single day
One of the reasons that nautically-oriented fiction can be so powerful, I think, is that by its nature it often establishes certain unities: the action typically occurs in a single place…albeit a moveable one, the ship…with a consistent cast of characters belonging to that place…and, although unity of time in the strict classical sense of all action occurring within a single day may be rare, another sort of unity of time is often established in that events occur over the course of a single voyage.
I’m launching an ongoing project to post reviews of worthwhile nautical fiction, recent and not-so-recent, well-known and not-so-well-known. All ChicagoBoyz and ChicagoGrrlz authors are invited to participate. Movies may also be included under this review category, as may some nonfiction books, especially personal memoirs.
Books/movies I’m planning to review myself, in the not-too-distant future, include: The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk…The Hornblower series, by C S Forester, and White Jacket, by Herman Melville. Also To the Last Salute, by Captain Georg von Trapp (yes, that Captain von Trapp.)
Other books definitely deserving of reviews as part of this project include the nautical novels of Joseph Conrad, Melville’s Moby Dick and Billy Budd, and Nicholas Montsarrat’s The Cruel Sea.
Please post your suggestions for worthwhile books for this project in comments; also, for Chicago Boyz and Grrlz and anyone else who feels especially motivated, any books you would particularly like to sign up to review. I see this as an ongoing project since the universe of books under this category is vast.