South with Endurance: Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition 1914-1917, the Photographs of Frank Hurley.

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This book has a wider focus than the title implies, including more material on Hurley’s photographic career than his Antarctic photographs. But it covers the Antarctic work well, from archives of RGS, the State Library of New South Wales, and of SPRI, Cambridge.

The Private Life of Polar Exploration.

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p. 65, re Scott’s Northern Party: Levick used to read aloud in the evening, first a chapter a night of David Copperfield, then the Life of Stevenson, then Simon the Jester [William Locke novel]. That was their library, and thus rationed lasted them about half way through the winter…. On Sunday nights they sang with a religious bias.

High Latitude.

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John King Davis participated in three epochal Antarctic expeditions as 1) Chief Officer of Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition in 1907, 2) as Mawson’s Second in Command and Master of the Aurora in 1911, and 3) he commanded the Ross Sea Relief Expedition in search of Shackleton’s transcontinental party stranded on Ross Island in 1916. Covering his many other assignments before and after, Davis gives a comprehensive autobiography of his career. He is a fine but not dramatic story teller who handles the crises of his expeditions with a certain detachment. He speaks of loneliness but not with how it was relieved, and therefore little about reading. His descriptions of preliminary planning for voyages is particularly good.

The Shipping News.

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A fictional reading experience from her novel about northern Newfoundland, in this instance a conversation on a remote island off the northern coast, where all members of its 5 isolated families could read and write: My father taught all his children to read and write. In the winter when the fishing was over and the storms wrapped Gaze Island, my father would hold school right down there in the kitchen of the old house. Yes, every child on this island learned to read very well and write a fine hand. And if he got a bit of money he’d order books for us. I’ll never forget one time, I was twelve years and it was November, 1933. Couple of years before he died of TB. Hard, hard times. You can’t imagine. The fall mail boat brought a big wooden box for my father. Nailed shut. Cruel heavy. He would not open it, saved it for Christmas. We could hardly sleep nights for thinking of that box and what it might hold. We named everything in the world except what was there. On Christmas Day we dragged that box over to the church and everybody craned their necks and gawked to see what was in it. Dad pried it open with a screen of nails and there it was, just packed with books. There must have been a hundred books there, picture books for children, a big red book on volcanoes that gripped everybody’s mind the whole winter—it was a geological study, you see, and there was plenty of meat in it. The last chapter in the book was about ancient volcanic activity in Newfoundland. That was the first time anybody had ever seen the word Newfoundland in a book. It just about set us on fire—an intellectual revolution. That this place was in a book. See, we thought we was all alone in the world. The only dud was a cookbook. There was not one single recipe in that book that could be made with what we had in our cupboards. (p. 170)

Zebulon: Or, The Moral Claims of Seamen Stated and Enforced.

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A polemical tract about the neglect of the moral condition of seamen in evangelical work. The proposed solutions include development of safe Christian sailor’s homes in all major ports, banking and credit institutions so sailors will save rather than spend their money on drink and prostitutes, and provision of Bibles and literacy training for all.

At the Mountains of Madness

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First published in 1931, this phantasmagoric combination of science fiction and horror novel is located on the high plateau of Antarctic, reached by airplane, but discovering the world’s highest mountains and remains of an ancient ‘civilization’ come back to life and destructive of the expedition.

Diary, 1881 July 7—l883 Aug 2.

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A record of Rice’s experiences as photographer on the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, 1881-1884. Unpaged but carefully dated throughout.

The Silent Landscape: The Scientific Voyage of HMS Challenger.

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Corfield concentrates on the science of the expedition without neglecting the human relations of the scientifics. One notable chapter is called “The Library of Time,” in which the biological remains dredged from the ocean body, tiny creations which would eventually yield the details of earth’s climatic and oceanographic history: For the geologist and oceanographer there is simply nothing to match the detailed information trapped in the sediment of the deep sea; it is the library of time. [p. 135].

A Voyage to the Arctic in the Whaler Aurora

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This voyage was in 1884 to Greenland fisheries via Newfoundland. His introduction is prescient: I cannot imagine it being read by many, as the subject can only interest a few who have themselves gone down to the sea in ships. (p. 11). Lindsay was a lively reader but more in retrospect than in this book.