Antarctic jollies (no elephants)

South! The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition 1914-1917

I finished my chapter of South! just moments before the LibriVox deadline — and what a great chapter it is!  I have not however, found out why the Antarctic explorers’ place of refuge had been named Elephant Island. I probably just need to listen to the rest of the book to find out how terrified the trunked ones were on seeing these hairy, smelly men arriving, and that they exited the island en masse like giant bald lemmings.

Shackleton’s not a wonderful writer — he repeats himself, jumps about in his story’s chronology, and butchers any chance of tension by informing his readers in the first few lines of the chapter that no-one died, despite heroic attempts by people with heart-failure and bronchitis.  However, he was writing at the time of Sugar Rationing The First, and perhaps folks just didn’t want that kind of anxious ambiguity in their adventure reading.

That said, it’s an innately exciting story, carefully described, and — my chapter was, at least — unexpectedly wry in several places.

“Now that Wild’s window allows a shaft of light to enter our hut, one can begin to ‘see’ things inside. Previously one relied upon one’s sense of touch, assisted by the remarks from those whose faces were inadvertently trodden on, to guide one to the door.”

One Comment

  • I had read the story of Shackleton’s expedition in what was apparently a very poor French translation years ago. I might give it another try.

    FYI: the Wikipedia article on Elephant Island answers all your questions and many more.

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