This “dazzling” National Book Award finalist set aboard an ocean liner in 1931 reflects the passions and prejudices that sparked World War II (San Francisco Chronicle).
August 1931. An ocean liner bound for Germany sets out from the Mexican port city of Veracruz. The ship’s first-class passengers include an idealistic young American painter and her lover; a Spanish dance troupe with a sideline in larceny; an elderly German couple and their fat, seasick bulldog; and a boisterous band of Cuban medical students.
As the Vera journeys across the Atlantic, the incidents and intrigues of several dozen passengers and crew members come into razor-sharp focus. The result is a richly drawn portrait of the human condition in all its complexity and a mesmerizing snapshot of a world drifting toward disaster.
Written over a span of twenty years and based on the diary Katherine Anne Porter kept during a similar ocean voyage, Ship of Fools was the bestselling novel of 1962 and the inspiration for an Academy Award–winning film starring Vivien Leigh. It is a masterpiece of American literature as captivating today as when it was first published more than a half century ago.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Katherine Anne Porter, including rare photos from the University of Maryland Libraries.
About the author
Katherine Anne Porter (1890–1980) was one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated authors. Born and raised in Texas, she published poetry and stories before joining the staffs of the Fort Worth Critic and the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado, where she almost died in the influenza pandemic of 1918.
In late 1919 Porter moved to New York City, where she made connections that led her to Mexico. Her Mexican experiences provided subjects for the six stories in her debut collection, Flowering Judas (1930). Flowering Judas and Other Stories (1935), which included four additional pieces, was published while Porter was living in Paris. It was followed by some of the finest volumes of short fiction in the English language, including Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), The Leaning Tower and Other Stories (1944), The Old Order (1955), and The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (1965), which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Porter’s first and only full-length novel, Ship of Fools, was inspired by an ocean voyage she made from Mexico to Germany in 1931. It was the bestselling American novel of 1962 and was adapted into a popular film starring Vivien Leigh in 1965.
Over the course of her long and distinguished career, Porter taught or served as a writer in residence at universities all across the United States, wrote screenplays, gave lectures and readings, and authored articles and reviews for various publications. In 1966 she donated her papers and personal library to the University of Maryland.
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