Orpheus in Pieces
On 7 February 1863, the Royal Navy corvette H.M.S. Orpheus, en route from Sydney to Auckland, was wrecked at the entrance of the Manukau Harbour, with the loss of 189 men. This essay offers a “new materialist” retelling of that story, one that seeks to identify the roles played by nonhuman agents of various kinds (such as sand, mud, trees, animals, tides, rain, wind) alongside the roles played by human protagonists (both individual and collective). To help convey the sense of this event as a production by an ensemble cast of actors, I have used the form of creative narrative nonfiction, while remaining within the documented facts.
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