Seafaring Terms: Background information when reading The Cat's Table

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Cat's Table

A Novel

by Michael Ondaatje

The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje X
The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2011, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2012, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Seafaring Terms

Print Review

While the terms used on a ship sound familiar to me, I often don't really know what they mean. Many people recognize that a cabin is a room, and a porthole is a window, but what exactly is a purser, and which direction is the stern? If you're not sure, the definitions of the seafaring expressions below - all used in The Cat's Table - might help you navigate the book.

  • officers' mess: The room where the officers eat.

  • purser: An officer who handles financial accounts and keeps money and valuables for the passengers.

  • pilot: Someone who is brought on to help the ship safely navigate difficult passages, often while leaving or entering a harbor. While on an airplane the pilot is likely the Captain, on a ship he almost never is. The pilot is usually transported to the ship by a small or tug boat and leaves once the vessel has passed through the assigned area.

  • lido deck: The section of the ship that contains an outdoor pool and the accompanying recreational areas. The term lido is Italian for beach.

  • stateroom: The captain's or superior officer's room.

  • billet: The place (like a bunk or cabin) assigned to a member of the ship's crew.

  • the bridge: The raised platform from which a ship is navigated, often including a pilot house and a chart house.

  • bow/stern: The front and back of the boat, respectively.

  • bollard: A short, vertical post used for mooring.

  • gangplank: A small, movable, bridge-like structure for use by people boarding or leaving a ship.

The ship in The Cat's Table is an Orient Line vessel, much like the 1948 P&O Orient Liner pictured below, which Mynah describes as a "castle that was to cross the sea."

Orient Line ship

Article by Beverly Melven

This article was originally published in October 2011, and has been updated for the June 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Immortalists
    The Immortalists
    by Chloe Benjamin
    On a summer day in 1969 in New York City, the Gold children agree to seek out a mysterious ...
  • Book Jacket: The Kites
    The Kites
    by Romain Gary, Miranda Richmond Mouillot
    Published by New Directions for the first time in English, Romain Gary's The Kites tells a story of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Kites
    The Kites
    by Romain Gary, Miranda Richmond Mouillot
    Published by New Directions for the first time in English, Romain Gary's The Kites tells a story of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Hearts of Men
    by Nickolas Butler
    Set mostly in the woodlands of north Wisconsin, Nikolas Butler spins a familial saga that explores ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

A story that is at once quirky, charming, heartbreaking, suspenseful and poignant.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Days When Birds Come Back
    by Deborah Reed

    A graceful testament to endurance, rebuilding, and the possibilities of coming home.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Driest Season

Win One of 50 Copies of This Exceptional Debut!

A deeply affecting story of loss, heartache, and—finally—hope.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A J O A Thousand M B W O S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.