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The Rescue of the Third Class on the TitanicA Revisionist History$
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David Gleicher

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780973893410

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780973893410.001.0001

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The "Popular Story"

The "Popular Story"

(p.1) Chapter 1 The "Popular Story"
The Rescue of the Third Class on the Titanic

David Gleicher

Liverpool University Press

This chapter introduces the concept of the “popular story”, a combination of the dramatisations of the Titanic’s fate in literature and film, and survivor accounts that fail to include representations of the third class. It defines the popular story as an impressionistic narrative of events patched together from first class passengers and top officers, offering no voice to the third class or control over their own representation. The author applies Foucault’s theory of “Dangerous Individuals” - where danger is implicit to social status - to the treatment and representation of third class men in Titanic narratives. It questions the authenticity of the popular story by scrutinising the British Inquiry testimonies, and examines the open racism of naval officers; the depiction of class in Walter Lord’s 1955 novel ‘A Night to Remember’; the lack of third class testimonies in the British Inquiry, and the dubious testimony of John Edward Hart - which nevertheless was absorbed into the narrative, to conclude that the third class passengers are pervasively portrayed in both history and popular culture as both intrinsically helpless and intrinsically dangerous - who, after being released from gated corridors, swarmed the top deck seeking rescue and causing havoc.

Keywords:   Michel Foucault, “Dangerous Individuals”, William Murdoch, ‘A Night to Remember’ (1955 Novel), Walter Lord, John Edward Hart, OlausAbelseth

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