FOTH BOOK REVIEW EVENT
The launch of Dr. K. Sohail and Claude Irwinís book
The Man Titanic Left Behind: The unsinkable story of a man and his love letters
Date: Saturday June 20th, 2015
Time 12 noon, Place: Lindsay Library
190 Kent Street Lindsay Ontario K 9 V 2 Y 6
The book is about the amazing and inspiring story of Claude Irwinís great uncle Howard Irwin, who was a poet and a philosopher. Howard was a resident of Fenelon Falls/ Lindsay area, and it is in his honor we are having the book launch in Lindsay Library. Hope to see you all there.
THE MAN FATE BROUGHT BACK
It is hard to find a book which contains so much drama and so many twists and turns. I was really struck by the unusualness of incidents described in this book. Letís just look at few examples. There was a ship which was proclaimed to be un-sinkable but tragically it sinks on its maiden voyage, very close to Canadian shores. Then there was a Canadian from Lindsay area who was supposed to sail on this ship but only a few hours before sailing, and supposedly dying, he went out to have just one more drink, one more street fight before hitting the water, he missed the boat and lived happily ever after. As if, these twists were not enough, you will find in this book, a story of two lovers, who went to their graves without knowing the fate of each other. One could not celebrate the miraculous survival of her beloved; the other could not mourn the early death of his lover. Mind you, these are no fictional happenings; all of these incidents are based on well documented facts. Most of the record of this story would have been lost, if fate did not save a bagful of letters lying under thousands of feet of corrosive ocean water. As a last twist the fate held the recovery of that bag until the death of its owner. Thus, denying him, the pleasure of receiving back his long last bag by just few years. Yes, fate once in a while gets tired of its boring routine of making our lives miserable and surprises us by showing what it is capable of and how helpless and ignorant about the future we can be.
Although we know we cannot predict the future still, when we see unique or exceptional traits in a child or a young man we speculate what lies in the future of this unusual person and what kind of man this person will turn out when he reaches his prime. Even the hero of this book, Howard Irvin, speculated in a poem about his nephew, Claude, one of the authors of this book. These speculations get even more poignant when one dies early. I am sure in case of adventurous Howard Irwin, his parents and relatives must have speculated similarly, more so after learning that he perished with the Titanic, wondering what kind of person Howard would have been who stopped in 28 US states, sailed seven seas including the Pacific Ocean, visited five continents including Australia, New Zealand, became acquainted with three revolutions and three major revolutionaries - Gandhi, Dr. San Yat San and Lenin, etc. etc. Fate responded to these speculations and said OK, I will make a rare exception and I will bring back the accomplished Howard Irvin from dead and I will show you what kind person he was destined to be. This book shows us through Mr. Howard Irvinís own letters and other documents what kind of man this tough lad from Lindsay became whom the Titanic left behind.
Tough lad Howard was, with limited skills and working as a trades man and ship hand he eked out a meager living but still was able to travel far and wide and managed to meet so many dignitaries and got involved in some historical movements which is another intriguing part of this book. So letís see what kind of person Howard Irwin turned out to be. Dr. Sohail has very skilfully summarised it in this book. As per him he was a creative writer with wonderful sense of humour. A logical, rational and philosophical man who considered the world of spirits and superstition a realm of stupidity. His desire to be cremated showed his extreme non-religious nature. In short as per Dr. Sohail he reminded him of the man who after passionately making love to his sweet heart falls asleep peacefully. Peaceful Howard Irwin may be but like all of us he had some regrets too. In his article Wail he writes and I quote, ďThe necessities of life for self and others cut short my education in 1900 at the age of twelve. Since then all I have been successful in, is growing old, unquote. Howard Irwin then surrenders to the fate by acknowledging that it is natural and peculiar to life itself. Yes, the same fate which saved Howard Irvin from perishing at sea showed us that regardless how much you travel, how many great people you meet, how wise, witty, logical, rational and liberal you become, but if necessities of life overpower you then you just canít help except just keep growing old. Thou shall not totally surrender to the necessities of life is a big lesson for all of us. Remember our only limitations are those which we set up in our own minds or permit others to establish for us
But is it really true in case of Howard Irvin? In my view the answer is emphatically no. It is true that he could not achieve a celebrity status of which he had all the potential. Although he died as a factory worker but he will be admired for his thoughts and writings. He definitely added his bit in the repository of human knowledge and wisdom. No doubt his article The Last Will is a masterpiece. But other articles too are not less interesting. In his article on Catherine the Great, Howard Irvin has told stories of earlier immigrants of this land, the hardship they suffered, and the rivalries they faced in establishing themselves in Canada. As a new immigrant myself when I compare it with my immigration I find these stories really fascinating and other worldly.
It will take a long time if I comment on each and every item of this book especially the letters. I am not sure about the morality of reading someoneís private letters, especially love letters. I admit to have read them but before reading I categorised them as research material.
In the end I want to congratulate the two authors of this book, Dr. Khalid Sohail and Claude Irvin, who conspired with the fate and one more time, brought Howard Irvin back from dead by publishing this book. Thank you.