Titan (Robertson)

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Titanium. A love story on the high seas (English Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan ) is a novel by the American writer Morgan Robertson , published in 1898 . It is about the passenger ship Titan , which sinks after colliding with an iceberg in the North Atlantic. The parallels to the sinking of the Titanic 14 years later are conspicuous - advocates of psychic abilities therefore speak of a Robertson vision. The parallels between the novel and the sinking of the Titanic were taken up in episode 5 of the second season of the television series X-Factor: The Incredible , but the author's name was changed to Harris Fisher.


Originally, the novel under the title was Futility ( Futility ) published 1898th The first edition was only sold very sparsely and is very valuable today. In a new edition in 1912 after the sinking of the Titanic , the title was changed to Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan ( futility or the shipwreck of the Titan ). The technical data of the Titan were changed for the new edition . Some authors write that the data has been adjusted to match that of the Titanic, but it is not. Rather, it looks like the Titan should remain the largest ship and therefore all dimensions have been adjusted except for the length. The ending and thus the moral of the story have also been adjusted.


The first half of the book introduces the main character John Rowland , a seedy alcoholic and ex-lieutenant in the Royal Navy who is now a deckhand on the Titan . The ship sails from New York to Liverpool . The Titan collides with another ship called the Royal Age , which then sinks. But the captain ignores this and continues the voyage. Rowland wants to report the incident to the authorities. So the captain orders him to be drugged and sent to the lookout at night so that everyone can see his insanity. Rowland recognizes the approaching iceberg too late, the ship collides with it and sinks. After the collision with the iceberg, Rowland rescues Myra , the young daughter of a former lover, by jumping off board onto the ice with her.

The second half of the novel is about Rowland's adventures. He saves Myra a second time, this time from a polar bear. However, both are seriously injured. They survive for several days in a landed lifeboat and feed on the bear meat until they are rescued by a passing ship. When Rowland comes to London with Myra , he is supposed to make a statement about what happened. The ship's insurer and the shipping company want to influence it. First he wants to witness the collision with the Royal Age , but when Myra's grandfather, one of the main owners of Titan , succumbs to a heart attack, he decides to remain silent. He learns that Myra's mother also survived and immediately goes to New York. After he has re-dressed the girl with his last money, the unequal couple - Myra finely dressed, he wrapped in rags - is arrested by a police officer. Myra's mother claims Rowland kidnapped the child on the ship. Therefore, he is brought before the judge who acquits him. He didn't see Myra for several years. He works his way up in society and is given a lucrative position in the government. The end of the novel tells that he receives an invitation from his former lover, who invites him to join her and her daughter.

Parallels and differences between the Titan and the Titanic

Kalman Tanito described in an analysis of the novel the parallels and differences between the fictional Titan and the real Titanic. The article was published in 1994 under the title The Titanic Commutator - The Official Journal of the Titanic Historical Society, Inc.

The following parallels can be found:

  • The length of the ships: Titanic 269 meters, Titan 244 meters.
  • Both ships were built of steel, had three propellers and two masts.
  • Both ships had watertight bulkheads. The Titan had 19, the Titanic 16.
  • Both ships were considered unsinkable.
  • Both ships were the largest passenger ships in their time.
  • Both ships could carry 3,000 passengers.
  • The gross tonnage of the Titan was 45,000, that of the Titanic 46,328.
  • Both ships had too few lifeboats.
  • The last voyage of the ships took place in April.
  • Both ships collided with an iceberg and were damaged on the starboard side.
  • The places where the two ships went down were only a few hundred miles apart.
  • Both ships belonged to British shipping companies, which were based in Liverpool and had a branch in New York on Broadway.

There are also the following differences to be listed:

  • The voyage of the two ships took place in April, but the voyage of the Titan was not a maiden voyage like the Titanic.
  • The Titan leaves New York, while the Titanic stayed on course for New York.
  • The Titan is equipped with sails, the Titanic is not.
  • The Titan has a yacht keel, the Titanic does not.
  • The Titan rams a sailing ship, but the survivors are ignored. There were no such events on the Titanic.
  • The night the Titan hits the iceberg there is thick fog. The Titanic disaster occurred on a clear night.
  • The novel speaks of moonlight that night, the Titanic sank on a new moon night.
  • The Titan slides on the iceberg until it protrudes from the water and then falls to the starboard side. The falling machines tear a hole in the hull and then the Titan slips back into the water. The lifeboats on the starboard side are destroyed. The Titanic, on the other hand, tore its hull on the iceberg. The collision resulted in several leaks in the area of ​​the six front compartments. The lifeboats on the starboard side were not destroyed.
  • Of the 3,000 passengers on the Titan, only thirteen survive. About 1,500 passengers lost their lives on the Titanic. Around 700 lives were saved.
  • John Rowland, the main character in the novel, fights a polar bear on an iceberg . This did not happen to anyone during the Titanic disaster.

Premonition or coincidence

Supernatural followers cite the many similarities to reinforce the belief that Robertson is a true prophet.

It should be noted, however, that most of the story corresponds to the usual events of the time and that ship accidents and collisions with icebergs happened relatively often. Some claim that the ship collision of the passenger steamer Elbe with the coal steamer Crathie in 1895 and the collision of the Arizona with an iceberg were the inspiration.

Eighteen years before the novel was published, there was an iron steamship called the Titania , which sank within three hours on July 9, 1880 after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic.

After the sinking of the Titanic, Robertson himself denied the thesis that he had a supernatural premonition, rather the conspicuous similarities were due to his special expertise in shipbuilding.


German edition

English editions

  • Futility: The Wreck of the Titan. , Scarce, 1898, Mansfield.
  • The Wreck of the Titan, or, Futility. , McKinley, Stone & Mackenzie, NY 1912
  • The Wreck of the Titan or, Futility. , McClure's Magazine, NY 1914.
  • Wreck of the Titan, or Futility. , C's P., USA, Revised ed of 1898 e., October 14, 1974 ISBN 0-911962-09-3
  • The Wreck of the Titan or Futility. , Buccaneer Books Inc, 12.1991 ISBN 0-89966-821-6
  • Futility / the Wreck of the Titan. , Virtual Ink, May 1998 ISBN 0-9665458-1-8 (100th anniversary edition)
  • The Wreck of the Titan or Futility. , Indypublish.com, August 12, 2008 ISBN 1-4378-3758-1

Internet / e-books

Wikisource: The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility  - Sources and full texts (English)

Web links


  1. Text summary of an article in mare No. June 8, 1998: "THE 'TITANIC' WILL SET DOWN" ( Memento of the original from December 21, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.mare.de
  2. Episode guide for X-Factor: The Unbelievable on fernsehserien.de
  3. Episode of X-Factor: The Unbelievable on RTL2 Now
  4. Offer of the first edition at abebooks.de for 8,288.39 € (dead)
  5. Full steam under water
  6. ^ Announcement: The Times of London, July 10, 1880, p. 12, Col f.