Life on an Icefloe.

A Soviet paean to Stalin and the system, claiming Stalin’s great interest in Arctic science. There is a heavy dose of communist Stalinism written by a rather pedestrian author but still there is some interest simply in seeing what they were reading.

p. 32: It was with profound emotion that we listened to the appreciation of our work pronounced by the greatest man of modern times, our teacher, leader and inspirer, Comrade Stalin, when he spoke on May 17, 1938…. In his remarkable speech Comrade Stalin said that in our practical work on the drifting icefloe we had upset the old idea about the Arctic and created a new one conforming to the actual needs of science.

p. 29: We took a small library with us, which included works by Lenin, Stalin, Chernyshevsky, Gorky, Tolstoy, Balzac, Stendhal, Dreiser.

p. 68-69, July 20: It seems as if the modest parcel of books we brought with us is fated never to be opened—there just isn’t any time for reading.

July 22: Still I manage to snatch time off for reading—I’ve nearly finished “The Test”. How difficult, dreary, and hopeless is the lot of the working man in Hitlerite Germany.

p. 75, July 29: After turning in I stayed awake till 2.30 a.m. I was reading Alexei Tolstoy’s “Peter I.”

p. 81, Aug. 3: I am just completing my diary entries now, then I shall dive deep into my sleeping-bag, and finish reading Chernyshevsky’s “What to do?”

p. 109: I started to build a kitchen. We were the first in the Arctic to use wet snow as a building material.”—one wonders where such stuff comes from, or at least I suppose Inuit had been doing so for centuries.

p. 126: I am also thinking of making a small cupboard for the books, which also lie about the floor, and under the bunks.

p. 128: Ernst is still reading Pavlenko’s “In the East.” e read it all night; says he likes it very much. I read the book when I was on Rudolph Island.

p. 148: October 21. Today we received a request from Literaturnaya Gazeta , to tell them who was our favourite author and why; what we were now reading; what were our hopes for Soviet literature. Surely they don’t think we can give an exhaustive reply to these questions in twenty or thirty words? And what is the sense of fobbing them off with a few general and meaningless phrases?

p. 150: Before going to sleep I mean to read Stalin’s “Leninism.” I have read it twice already, on the mainland; now I am reading it for the third time.

p. 151: October 27. My head ached so terribly that I didn’t know what to do with myself…. I felt a bit better in towards evening. I finished reading Theodore Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy.”

p. 179: Dec 12. After dinner I read Henri Barbusse’s book, “Stalin.” Thoughts of our country, of Moscow, are inevitably linked with Stalin, the man who has devoted his entire life to the revolutionary cause. Though he is now 58 he does more work than any of us.

p. 199-200: Jan. 12. In the evening, as I sat reading a book, the hoar frost formed on the ceiling of the tent from the condensation of our breath, broke off and fell on top of me. My bunk and my sleeping-bag were soaked through….

p. 219: Feb 3, shortly before ending their icefloe trip: We neither worry about ourselves nor our families. I recall the tragic note written by Captain Scott who, returning from the South Pole, was tormented by anxiety as to who would take care of his family if he perished. We have no such anxieties; behind us stands the entire Soviet people, our Party and our Government; with us is our beloved Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin.