A strangely colorless, almost vacuous account of a long expedition, at least in this translated prose. Volume I has only a few bookish references, a picture on p. 119 of a shelf of scientific books in the Villa ‘Magnet”, the small base building for magnetic observations. And a description of an Eskimo visit to the ship:
p. 289: Their favourite diversion when they visited us on the vessel was to look at the illustrated books. At first they generally set the pictures upside down, but with our assistance they soon got used to the proper way of looking at them. Now, as luck would have it, we had hardly anything else but pictures of the Boer War, and of these we had a large supply. It was death and killing and fire and slaughter, not very pleasant even to us, and the Eskimo impression of ‘civilization’ derived from these pictures could hardly have been happy and alluring.
[This passage illuminates an earlier passage on p. 259 where Amundsen states that in preparing for any attack or theft of the Eskimos during the second winter]: We had, therefore to teach them to regard us and ours with the greatest respect, and at last we hit upon a method of accomplishing this. A powerful mine was buried beneath a snow hut at a good distance from the ship, and a train laid from the ship and well covered with snow. When that was ready, we collected the Eskimo together on board. I spoke to them about the white man’s power; that we could spread destruction around us, and even at a great distance accomplish the most extraordinary things. It was, consequently, for them to behave themselves properly and not to expose themselves to our terrible anger. If they should play any tricks on land, for example, over there by the snow huts, then we should merely sit quietly on board and do so…. With a terrific report the igloo blew up, and clouds of snow burst high into the air. This was all that was required.
p. 40-44ff, on a meeting with the Danish Literary Expedition to Greenland under Mylius Ericksen with Knut Rasmussen—gives no details of the meeting. Amundsen seems to pride himself on being without affect, concealing his emotions (as did his men).
p. 101, during the first winter in Gjöahavn. Not a word about books, though he does mention some studying.
Vol. I, chapter X gives historic review of attempts to find the North-west Passage.
p. 129, notes that the first ship after going through the NWP was the Charles Hanson which had some old newspapers: “Old! Yes to you! To us they were absolutely fresh!”
p. 289, on their early meetings with Eskimo: Their favourite diversion when they visited us on the vessel was to look at the illustrated books. At first they generally set the pictures upside down, but with our assistance they soon got used to the proper way of looking at them. Now, as luck would have it we had hardly anything else but pictures of the Boer War, and of these we had a large supply. It was death and killing and fire and slaughter, not very pleasant even to us, and the Eskimo impression of “civilization” can hardly have been happy and alluring.
p. 366-6, an addendum seems to have the only reference to books, a list of contributions in kind: Books from Messrs. H. Aschebourg and Co., Mr. Jacob Dybwad, and Messrs Feilberg and Landmark.
p. 176: Manni had now become a pupil of Lieutenant Hansen. He was learning to write and to tell the time. … While these games [draughts] were in progress I was as a rule, sitting in the cabin, reading, to the pleasing accompaniment of the subdued and well-considered observations to which the play gave rise. But when by some chance Manni won then there was a roar which for a while rendered impossible any attempt at literary enjoyment in his immediate vicinity.
There is very little sign of reading of interest, although Amundsen does make reference to a medical guide he used. No religion; no ceremony for Easter but only a Lord’s Prayer at Wiiks funeral. A very disappointing read, and certainly nothing heroic.