Untitled remarks at the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association convention on May 22, 1952

Cherry-Garrard, Apsley George Benet (1886-1959), British Explorer on Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition, was an unlikely hero for the Heroic Age, a near-sighted, inexperienced ingénue who paid Scott £1000 to participate in and suffer through the Terra Nova expedition. As such he was an always helpful addition to the expedition staff, but his fame rests on his account of The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctica 1910-1913. Two vols. (London: Constable and Co., 1922), listed under the Terra Nova journey.

p. 5: Memories fade, men fake their memories, the actors die. Beauty dies and fades away, and is destroyed: we have all seen plenty of that last.

Nothing lives—unless it is written down. Black ink….

I have been asked to say something about books and writing in the Antarctic, and here I feel more at home: for I have seen quite a lot of sledging (some 3000 miles) and I know the difficulty of keeping records and how important records can be. First of all books.

In a hut near the comparatively warm sea there is no difficulty. They were useful among other things for the possible building of igloos on the Bola Jenny. Sledging is more difficult. Scott, Wilson and Shackleton pooled their weights on the first Southern Journey and took the Origin of Species. We were allowed 12 lbs. of personal gear…. A light book was useful. On my first journey I took Bleak House, the chapters were short enough to be read in a sleeping bag before hands got too cold, and gave something else to think about. On the Polar journey Wilson took my copy of In Memoriam, of which he was fond, and brought it back. I found it with him in the snow. I took some Tennyson and learned it by heart, and repeated it to myself on the march. It is a hard, monotonous life: and, especially if you’re very hungry, it is easy to imagine grievances. A crumb falling between two sleeping bags can cause trouble. Something which will take you out of yourself is worth a great deal.

p. 6, quotes General Wolfe: I would rather be the author of Gray’s Elegy than take Quebec.