Voyages of a Modern Viking

A very pleasant autobiography of someone who sailed with Amundsen on the Gjoa, the Fram, and the Maud, based on his diaries and presumably translated from Norwegian (though there is no indication).

p. 62, after two years or more they bespoke an American whaler west of Banks Island and they saw their first newspaper, one of which erroneously reported “War between Norway and Sweden.”

p. 133, on the North Pole attempt in 1919 aboard Maud: The winter passed without anything much happening. Amundsen’s arm healed. Sverdrup started a newspaper, the Taimyr Post, but it did not run to many editions, as the ink froze on the types. Nor were there many advertisers, and such subscribers, as came from time to time to have their curiosity satisfied, the bears, were shot before they could enter the office. The conditions under which a newspaper enterprise should flourish were lacking here, although the editor was eminently qualified. A man who knew everything, a happy mind, and very solicitous for the welfare of his readers. It was a monotonous over-wintering. We had nothing to do except wait for the ice to let us out; but it was not too tiresome. We all ate at the same table as before. We played cards in the evening, read and did odd jobs. Every Saturday we had a party with a hot toddy, and set the gramophone going, and made ourselves comfortable. You never have any fun other than what you make yourself. All of us were travelled men, who could both lie and tell true tales from life.

p. 146: When your sled tips over 10 times in one day; when the tip of your nose is white from frost; when you do not know whether you are driving on land or sea; when you lie at nights hoping the ground will not crack open, you can’t suffer from boredom. And in midwinter there may be days of good weather, when the Aurora Borealis shines so strongly that it excites like moonlight. No, feelings other than “ennui” grip a dog-driver on a winter’s day in unknown territory in Siberia.