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The Worst Journey in the World Paperback – December 23, 2011
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"A masterpiece. ... When people ask me (I get the question about twice a month), 'What is your favourite travel book?' I nearly always name this book. It is about courage, misery, starvation, heroism, exploration, discovery, and friendship. It vividly illustrates the demands of science and the rigours of travel. It is a record of the coldest darkest days that can be found on our planet. It is written beautifully but not obviously, with a subtle artistry. ... It is rare to find a person who is at once a great traveller, recounting an overwhelming experience, and who is also such an accomplished writer. ... Everywhere his voice is clear, articulate and humane and sometimes startling."--Paul Theroux --Introduction to the British 1994 edition
About the Author
<DIV>APSLEY CHERRY-GARRARD was born in 1886 and educated at Winchester and Christ Church, Oxford. At twenty-four he was one of the youngest members of Scott's British Antarctic Expedition. He served in the First World War until being invalided out of the Navy in 1915, and during his convalescence started to write The Worst Journey in the World. He wrote introductory chapters to Wilson of the Antarctic (1933) and Life of Bowers (1938). He died in 1959.
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The loveliness of this man makes me angry at Scott and his right-hand men (like the scientist Wilson). I can't help but feel that there was something seriously wrong about the Scott expedition. The author at maybse 25 - 27 years accompanied Wilson and Bowers, another right-hand man, on the "worst journey" of the book's title. This was a six week trek over ice in the middle of winter in the total darkness with temperatures that descended to -73 degrees F. in order to --- collect the eggs of Emperor Penguin's. During the journey, the author could not wear his eyeglasses. He starved. With the two others, he had to despair. The nerves of his teeth were killed by the frost. At one point, Wilson told him, "You simply must learn to use an ice ax". Plainly our author may not have been trained or able to see. Yet, throughout the author looks up to Wilson, whereas it seems to me that Wilson was a somewhat crazed and obssessed man without a true regard for his fellows.
An expedition that would have sent three men into the unknown in the most frightful season in the most frightful unknown place was stupid and cruel. No concepts of duty or advancement of science can excuse the entire incompetence and carelessness. I suppose the expedition was systematized only by a sense of honor and manliness.
There was something wrong about the Scott expedition. From this book, it struck me as old-fashioned or rigid in values, too loose in organization, too diffuse in its goals, too classist. As to the latter two, the author tells us that the expedition was primarily scientific. If so, the journey to the Pole was not necessary as science could have been satisfied by a concentration of resources that the Polar journey diluted. Additionally, the author here would perhaps not have had to take the worst journey and another group of researchers would not have been stranded for a whole winter (!) on their own while Scott went to the Pole. As to may remark about classism, I am struck with the disregard, almost contempt, in which the ordinary seaman Edgar Evans is discussed or ignored, and the honor heaped on Oates of the cavalry or dragoons ---- as if both men as they died had not given their total "vitality", as the author might say, to the Polar journey.
I will read more about the author. I understand that a biography of him has recently been published (?). I would like to know what happened to him as I sense that he essentially knew that he was in the hands of the unorganized, to say the least, and the obssessive, to say the most.
There is still more to the story that Cherry-Garrard did not include, (i.e., the plan for the British explorers to meet a German explorer at the pole}. Given the time that Cherry wrote the book, just after serving in the War, it is understandable that the German explorer was not mentioned. It is also possible that Cherry was unaware of the coordination intended with the German team since it did not really concern him. Cherry described his role as, "adaptable helper" with little formal responsibility. The incredible effort of the team is especially moving written from this point of view.
Cherry-Garrard did the world a great service by writing this book, I think. There is a lot of wisdom in his writing.
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Interesting that the cover I received is as shown but ALL reviews (for ALL Editions) seem to be...The Worst Journey in the WorldRead more