Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A man with all the answers

As several others have noted before me, Harrer's account is quite different from others we've read previously. Not only does he address such questions as "why write" and "why climb" up front, but he shows a great deal of respect for not only the mountains he climbs, but also his fellow climbers. ON of my favorite quotes was, "after our safe return from the venture we felt more conscious of the privelege of having been allowed to live" (10). Not only does Harrer demonstrate his appreciation for life, but acknowledges the mountain's own power of his life or death.

Unless I'm much mistaken, this is the first narrative we've come across that includes not only the first ascent (or the author's own story), but other accounts of successful or unsuccessful climbs with which the author was not involved. This amount of respect is not only vastly different from some of our past authors, but even more so for a someone involved in a first successful ascent (although he was technically not the first on the peak's summit). And besides all of this, I found Harrer's writing style very engaging and accessible.

But I shouldn't be so quick to paint Harrer in such a perfect light. He does show some tell-tale signs of a belief in and acceptance of human superiority. For instance, he refers to "the remembrance of the day that first brought a human being into direct personal contact with [the mountain]"(9) as that mountain's "birthday". In other words, the mountain only comes into being after humans have acknowledged its existence.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree! One of the aspects of this book that I really appreciated was that Harrer clearly has done his research. In one of the first chapters he talks about how he needed help to go through all of his documents and information, insinuating that he talked to many sources and used a lot of facts. Whether or not it is true, Harrer gives the impression that he has all the information about this face. Harrer's narrative is well written and it seems very thoughtful. He has not just thrown together information, and it seems more like he a is a writer- mountaineer than a mountaineer-turned- writer, like some of the other authors we have read. This makes this book very engaging.