Thursday, April 15, 2010
Titanic 1 of 2
The big ship ran across an ice field shortly before midnight. Within three hours, one of the great dramas of the twentieth century unfolded. In a disputed section of ocean, the ice prevailed, the ocean abided, and the sepulchres went unmarked.
Titanic was theatre, in real time, in three acts. The time it took to sink approximated that which it takes to perform a play. Ice, then heroism and cowardice, acceptance and denial shared the decks. Death took no holiday, heeded no class. The rich drowned among the poor. Mrs. Straus chose to stay, and from such drama sprang the literature, from the literature -- the legend. And Lady Marjorie later went into the Atlantic as did Noel Coward's newly wed Marryots.
It is said that an era died on that cold night a scant two years before the lamps went out and the east wind blew. The Edwardians are gone, but the world long remembers a maiden voyage, a wicked ocean, and the night Titanic slipped into the sea.
Some thirty years after I wrote that introduction to an antiquarian book catalogue, I find myself yet again at sea. And again on April 15th, because my wife and I are partial to North Atlantic crossings in early spring. In approximately two days we will pass within 90 nautical miles of where Titanic rests.