The transcription of Hermann Ludwig von Lowenstern's uncensored diaries (1793-1815) gives the modern reader a rare insight into the life of a Baltic German Russian naval officer at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. Lowenstern traveled the world from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and Black Seas, from Reval to Paris and back by way of Berlin (1793-1801), and from Kronstadt to Copenhagen, Falmouth, Tenerife, Brazil, Nuka Hiva, Kamchatka, Nagasaki, Canton, St. Helena, Scotland and back to Kronstadt (1803-1806), and finally to Archangelsk and the Crimea (1806-1815) before retiring to marry and run three estates in Estonia. Every human endeavor engaged his attention: a sailor's revolt in England; Russians rescuing Turkish sailors during race riots in Palermo; elegant balls attended by Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton; Napoleon reviewing troops in Paris; Abbe Sicard lecturing at the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb; Japanese playing psychological games on the Russian Ambassador, Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov; "fresh meat" being secretly ferried to foreign ships in Canton; the bathhouses in Istanbul; the unbearable life in the swampy hellhole of Archangelsk; and the Crimean sect practicing castration. These diaries are also a treasure trove for students of languages since Lowenstern wrote as he spoke, that is, Baltic German with admixtures of other languages from around the world.
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Dr. Victoria Joan Moessner is Professor of German at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has published a number of English translations of German voyage literature, including Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff's A Voyage around the World, 1803-1806 (Limestone press 1993) and The first Russian Voyage around the World: The Journal of Hermann Ludwig von Lowenstern, 1803-1806 (University of Alaska Press 2003). Her present research investigates the role of German scientists and Baltic German officers in Russian Service at the beginning of the nineteenth century.Review:
"Lowenstern's diaries were never intended for publication, thus never submitted to czarist censorship, as were other publications of the period. His diaries give the modern reader an intimate view of the Napoleonic period in Europe and life on board ship as seen by a thoughtful, well-read, inquisitive man as he matured from a teenage midshipman to the captain of a Turkish ship taken as prize in the Black Sea. His descriptions and drawings of the Russian envoy to Japan, Nikolai Rezanov, on the voyage around the world are of particular importance because they help the call for a reevaluation of this traditionally highly praised diplomat. Lowenstern's diaries were his friend, an outlet for his personal feelings, animosities, dislikes, frustrations and joys with life. They will give the modern reader new insights into the language, life, and fate of Baltic Germans living under Russian rule in the early nineteenth century." - (from the Commendatory Preface) Dr. Richard A. Pierce, Professor Emeritus of History, Queen's University, Canada "This is an important addition to understanding that lost world of Baltic Germans in Estonia and their service to Russia. This three volume transcription contains Lowenstern's complete diaries, including the first Russian voyage around the world, which has already appeared in English, Japanese, and Russian translations. Uncensored diaries like Lowenstern's give the contemporary reader subjective personal insights into an important era in modern history that are unobtainable from other sources. The reader is given a day-by-day account of a Baltic German Russian naval officer's life during the age of global scientific exploration in the course of the age of Napoleon, as he matures from midshipman to captain of a Turkish ship taken as a prize in the Black Sea. In addition to sailing all of the seas and oceans of the world, describing events and impressions on shipboard and at ports of call, Lowenstern traveled from St. Petersburg and Reval to Paris by way of Germany, Holland, and Belgium and back as well as from the Black Sea by way of Moscow and St. Petersburg to Reval, describing the sights he visited, the mishaps he had and the people he met and the stories they told. With the extensive and excellent annotations, this diary is important for historians as well as all who are interested in diary literature." - Dr. Claus-Michael Naske, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Alaska Fairbanks"
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