Cruise History: The sinking of the actual RMS Titanic and the fictitious sinking of the Titan. Was it coincidence?
Art doesn’t just imitate life — sometimes it anticipates it. Fourteen years before the RMS Titanic was built, the American Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility or The Wreck of the Titan (1898) that prefigured the real ship’s destiny with remarkable precision.
The Titanic and the Titan were both triple-screwed British passenger liners with a capacity of 3,000 and a top speed of 24 knots.
Both were deemed unsinkable; both carried too few lifeboats.
And both sank in April in the North Atlantic after colliding with an iceberg on the forward starboard side.
Futility, 1898 Edition About the Titan
Morgan Robertson’s novel described the ship’s loss. It struck an iceberg and went down in April.
The Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912 and sank a little over two hours later at 2.20 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The novel was republished, after the Titanic sank, with the title Futility and the Wreck of the Titan. Some of the Titan’s statistics were changed.
John Rowland, Futility’s hero, is a disgraced former Royal Navy lieutenant, who’s a drunkard. After being dismissed from the Navy, he’s a deckhand on the Titan. Then ship hits an iceberg and sinks. There aren’t enough lifeboats. He saves a former lover’s daughter by jumping onto the iceberg with her. Rowland finds a lifeboat washed up on the iceberg and they’re rescued by a passing ship.
Comparing the 1898 Edition Titan with the RMS Titanic
Obviously, there’s striking similarity between the names. Another similarity is that the reprint of the original
edition was published in Mansfield, Ohio and the original publisher was M. F. Mansfield. The differences between the ships, for the most part, don’t seem to be that great.
Both collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic due to excessive speed and both ships had too few lifeboats
Both were launched in April and their disasters happened in the same month
Both were the largest ship afloat. The Titan was described as one of man’s greatest works. The Titanic was deemed unsinkable and a wonder of its era.
Both had a displacement of 45,000 tons
Both had three propellers and two masts
Titan sailed from New York to Liverpool; Titanic, Southampton to New York.
It was the Titan’s third voyage; Titanic’s first
Titan was 800 feet long, weighed 45,000 tons; Titanic, 880 feet long, weighed 46,328 tons
Titan had fifteen watertight compartments; Titanic, nine
Titan had 40,000 horsepower; Titanic, 45,000 horsepower
Titan’s speed, 25 knots; Titanic’s, 24 knots.
Titan and Titanic Coincidence or Synchronicity?
Psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung coined the term, “synchronicity,” which is a connection of two or more psychological/psychic phenomena without causation. It’s experiencing two or more events that are causally unrelated happening together in a seemingly meaningful manner and unlikely to occur together by chance.
Some propose the incidents are held together by a higher power. Events may be grouped by both cause and meaning. Meaning is a complex mental process, involving conscious and subconscious influences. Every connection doesn’t need to have an explanation in terms of causation.
The question is did Robertson have subconscious precognition, knowledge of the future, when he wrote the book based on the sinking of the Titan or were all the parallels the result of mere chance?