Scott’s Last Biscuit: The Literature of Polar Travel.

Polar expeditions have created a literature with its own history and style, and "The Frozen Ship" is a detailed and moving examination of the most intriguing and influential journeys into the eternal ice. Sarah Moss delves into the morbid fascination of expeditions that went terribly awry and the increasing interest in those that were rescued at the last minute, and she pays particular attention to the desire to find and even preserve long-lost explorers. Some of them, like Ernest Shackleton, Richard Byrd, and Roald Amundsen, have become iconic figures, while others, as important in their day, have faded into obscurity. Here, like wayward travelers, they are rescued heroically. (ABEBooks, from Strand entry)

p. 73, in place of Parry’s fanfare about the “rational amusements” of the officers, Nansen remarks simply: A good library was of great importance to an expedition like ours, and thanks to publishers and friends both in our own and in other countries we were well supplied in that respect.

p. 74, reading onFram: …supper at six o’clock… Afterwards there was again smoking in the galley, while the saloon was transformed into a silent reading-room….

p. 78, Nansen’s pleasure in the “good cheer” and “sybaritic life” waned as his frustration and “fear of the consequences”—which still seem to be as much moral as physical—grew. He was bored and missed his wife desperately: Monday, March 26th [1896] …. The sun mounts up and bathes the ice-plain with its radiance. Spring is coming, but brings no joys with it. Here it is as lonely and cold as ever. One’s soul freezes. Seven more years of such life—or say only four—how will the soul appear then? And she…? If I dared to let my longings loose—to let my soul thaw. Ah! I long more than I care confess.

Add now to this good cheer our strongly built, safe house, our comfortable saloon, lighted up with the large petroleum lamp and several small ones (when we have no electric light), constant gaiety, card-playing and books in any quantity, with or without illustrations, good and entertaining reading, and then a good sound sleep—what more could one wish.

p. 81, re Nansen and Johansen: Everything they touched, and particularly paper, became filthy, and Nansen, in words that echo through accounts of polar winters, almost stopped writing his journal; …there was nothing to write about. The same thoughts came and went day after day; there was no more variety in them than in our conversation. The very emptiness of the journal really gives the best representation of our life during the nine months we lived there. [Source??]

p. 82, says Nansen was unusually fortunate in having something to read that he had not written himself: The little readable matter which was to be found in our navigation table and almanac I had read so many times already that I knew it almost by heart—all about the Norwegian royal family, all about persons apparently drowned, and all about self-help for fishermen. Yet it was always a comfort to see these books; the sight of the printed letters gave one a feeling that there was after all a little bit of the civilized man left.