Bugger the High Seas!

>Avast, me hearties!

Arrr! Today of all days be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. If we hear any complain’ from ye scallywags, ye’ll be walkin’ the plank!

Here’s a coupla nice pieces of booty for ye, lubbers: We, Gentlemen o’ fortune be among the most romanticised and fabled characters in history and the Seven Seas. By the Powers! From that drasted Bluebeard to darn Captain Hook, we’ve been in scores of movies, books, urchin’s tales, and we e’en gallivant in a world-famous amusement park ride. Arrr!

In Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition: English Sea Rovers in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean, historian B. R. Burg investigates the social and sexual world of these sea rovers, a tightly bound brotherhood of men engaged in almost constant warfare. What, he asks, did these men, often on the high seas for years at a time, do for sexual fulfillment? Buccaneer sexuality differed widely from that of other all- male institutions such as prisons, for it existed not within a regimented structure of rule, regulations, and oppressive supervision, but instead operated in a society in which widespread toleration of homosexuality was the norm and conditions encouraged its practice.

In his new introduction, Burg discusses the initial response to the book when it was published in 1983 and how our perspectives on all-male societies have since changed.

B. R. Burg is professor of history at Arizona State University, Tempe.

In Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Piracy, Sexuality, and Masculine Identity, Hans Turley delves deep into the archives to examine the homoerotic and other culturally transgressive aspects of the pirate’s world and our prurient fascination with it. Turley fastens his eye on historical documents, trial records, and the confessions of pirates, as well as literary works such as Robinson Crusoe, to track the birth and development of the pirate image and to show its implications for changing notions of self, masculinity, and sexuality in the modern era.

Turley’s wide-ranging analysis provides a new kind of history of both piracy and desire, articulating the meaning of the pirate’s contradictory image to literary, cultural, and historical studies.

Hans Turley is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Connecticut.

Well! Shiver me timbers if a few wenches didn’t also catch the wind and sailed starboard. Anne Bonny and Mary Read were possibly two such lasses. Steer yerself o’er towards Lesbian Pirates: Anne Bonny and Mary Read, a harang on the matter by that sprog, Rictor Norton. Arr!

Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition
B. R. Burg,
New York University Press, 1995 (second edition)
ISBN 0814712355
215 pages

Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash
Hans Turley
New York University Press, 1999
ISBN 081478223X
184 pages

See Also:
* Extracts of Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash
* Bonny and Read, the Lesbian Pirates
* Talk Like a Pirate Day
* Talk Like a Pirate Day UK

PS: X marks the spot!

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