Friday, June 18, 2010

Origins of Pirate Latitudes - Part 2

In my post The Origin of Pirate Latitudes? I speculated that a novel Michael Crichton mentioned he was working on in his autobiography Travels was Pirate Latitudes. Crichton, while describing a 1982 trip to Jamaica, wrote:

For many years I had been working on a book about seventeenth-century Jamaica, and now I wanted to visit this museum.

As I’ve mentioned before, I thought it was likely that the book was a novel, and any novel about Jamaica in the 17th century would probably contain pirates, given their prominence in the locale at that time.

Recently I discovered a March 1979 American Film article “Ready When You Are, Dr. Crichton” by Patrick McGilligan. From the article:

His future calendar is just as wide-ranging: Crichton will write a contemporary story set in Africa, his first novel in roughly three years; he will direct a thriller for Twentieth Century-Fox about television commercials; he will try to complete a long-standing book project about Caribbean pirates in the seventeenth century. (p. 53) [Emphasis mine]

Crichton’s novel Grave Descend (published in 1970 under the name John Lange), was set in Jamaica and contained a historical reference to the privateer/pirate Henry Morgan. After reading Pirate Latitudes three times and several biographies of Morgan, I am convinced that Morgan was the real-life model for the character Captain Charles Hunter.

Given the familiarity with Jamaica that Crichton demonstrated in Grave Descend, he might have been thinking about (if not actually working on) the novel Pirate Latitudes as early as the late 1960s.

Another question to ponder--did Crichton, an avid scuba diver, ever dive at Port Royal, Jamaica? The city was struck by a horrific earthquake in 1692, and two-thirds of the city sank into the sea. It was excavated by marine archeologists in the early 1960s, and people are allowed to dive there with permission from the local authorities. Henry Morgan’s tomb disappeared into the sea because of the earthquake.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Friday, June 11, 2010

Michael Crichton’s Flag by Johns on Display in Philadelphia

The crown jewel of Michael Crichton’s art collection, Flag by Jasper Johns, will be on display at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia from June 26 to September 12.

The painting was sold in on May 11 for 28.6 million. The new owner has not yet been publicly identified.

Related Posts:
Video – Flag by Jasper Johns Auction

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Monday, June 7, 2010

Michael Crichton Art Auction Results

In the past two months, 98 works owned by Michael Crichton were auctioned off at Christies – 5 at the April 15 photographs sale, 14 at the April 26 prints sale, 31 at the May 11 evening sale, and 48 at the May 12 day sale. (You can see detailed info on each piece at the Christie’s website.)

When I did a search of “Michael Crichton" in past lots at Christie’s, I discovered something interesting. 101 results popped up, including one from the December 17, 2003 sale “Playboy at 50”. This particular lot contained letters from various well-known writers, such as Anthony Burgess, Philip Roth, Carl Sandburg, and Ogden Nash.

From the lot description:

Three typed letters signed ("J. Michael Crichton") to Murray Fisher, Boston, Nice, Greece, 1965-1966. Together 3 pages, 4to, with carbon responses from Playboy. Crichton proposes an interviewing Isaac Asimov for Playboy and other projects.

Crichton published several pieces in Playboy. The first one that I am aware of is a short story “How Does That Make You Feel?” published in the November 1968 issue under the name “Jeffery Hudson”. That was the pseudonym under which Crichton published the novel A Case of Need.

Those three letters make me wonder if Crichton published anything in Playboy earlier. (Wish I knew what the letters in response said.) I would love to see an interview of Isaac Asimov by Michael Crichton. Asimov has long been a favorite of mine.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner