Narrativity in Naval Logbooks. Michiel de Ruyter and the Narrative Function of Verb Variation
Keywords:Michiel de Ruyter, naval ships’ logbooks, scheepsjournalen, narrativity, narrativiteit, verb variation, werkwoordvariatie
AbstractIn the seventeenth-century Dutch navy, low-born men who were practically trained found themselves able to climb the social and professional ladder from ordinary sailors to celebrated naval officers. Perhaps the best-known example is Michiel de Ruyter (1607–1676). This article examines how De Ruyter employed his modest writing skills in his obligatory ships’ logbooks to report to the Dutch government. Applying a narratological perspective to his factual recounting of naval events, I argue that De Ruyter’s linguistic variation represents a strategy he employed to articulate and foreground certain events within a larger narrative discourse. The focus here is on verbs as a key means to create a sense of eventfulness. De Ruyter’s logbooks are characterised by a simple style typically lacking in verbs. The mere presence of a verb thus not only helps describe but also draws attention to a particular event. In addition, De Ruyter varied his verbs as a way to make significant naval, political, or meteorological events meaningful to his readers on land.
How to Cite
van de Poppe, C. (2020). Narrativity in Naval Logbooks. Michiel de Ruyter and the Narrative Function of Verb Variation. Journal of Dutch Literature, 11(1). Retrieved from https://www.journalofdutchliterature.org/index.php/jdl/article/view/199