The Pirate in Mass Culture: Historical Prototypes and Contemporary Iconography Cover Image
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Пиратът в масовата култура: исторически прототипи и съвременна иконография
The Pirate in Mass Culture: Historical Prototypes and Contemporary Iconography

Author(s): Liliana Simeonova
Subject(s): History
Published by: Асоциация Клио
Keywords: the pirate; modern mass culture; Caribbean pirate; Hollywood; Daniel Defoe; renegados; Sir Walter Scott; Rafael Sabatini; Classical Piracy

Summary/Abstract: In modern mass culture, one of the most popular figures is that of the pirate and, above all, the Caribbean pirate. His modern iconography represents him as a cartoon-like character – a one-eyed, one-legged or one-armed man, with a parrot perched on his shoulder, and a bottle of rum or a cutlass in his hand. More often than not, he is the captain of a caravel, which has a Jolly Roger flag on its highest mast and is manned by the worst rogues that ever lived. While this stereotypical image of the pirate captain has been widely exploited by Hollywood as well as by the comics and, more recently, the Internet it is certainly rooted into the adventure fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thanks to the immense popularity, which the fictional (Caribbean) pirate enjoys, he has exerted influence on the formation of artistic tastes in twentieth-century popular culture. The postmodernist rethinking of mass culture, however, requires a careful re-examination of both the fictional predecessors and the historical prototypes of modern mass-culture stereotypical images. The present study explores the formation of the literary stereotypes of pirates, against the background of historic piracy. Basically, there are three main types of literary pirate characters, namely the Caribbean pirate, the pirate-gentleman and the gentleman-pirate, and the renegade who had joined the Barbary corsairs in the Mediterranean. The literary image of the Caribbean pirate originated in the works of the so-called filibuster writers of the second half of the seventeenth and the early eighteenth centuries, who described their own lives as privateers along with their activities as explorers of the geography and the peoples of the lands they visited. These characters and the historical figures of notorious pirates of the so-called Era of Classical (or Caribbean) Piracy later became the prototypes of well-known literary characters, mostly in the Romanticism and Neo-Romanticism literature. In the 1920s and ’30s, the Caribbean piracy became one of the most exploited topics of the modern film industry. It was some of the filibuster writers together with authors such as Daniel Defoe and others that created, in eighteenth-century England, the image of the gentleman-pirate or the pirate-gentleman. There is a moralistic trait to all those works, whether they are novels, plays, or poems, as they altogether aimed at criticizing the pirate-like activities of the contemporary British governments. This line of combining adventure fiction with a moralistic fable was later adopted by some representatives of the English Neo-Romanticism and, above all, by Sir Walter Scott. The nineteenth-century also bore witness to the birth of the so-called nautical romance, which was later used as a literary model by authors such as J. Conrad and E. Hemingway. Last but not least, there is the figure of the renegade who is serving as a captain of a Barbary corsair ship. The renegados were fo

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 1-2
  • Page Range: 106-136
  • Page Count: 31
  • Language: Bulgarian