Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This book could not have come at a better time in the semester, following our renewed discussion of the definition of adventure.  Janelle's own definition involved some level of spontaneity in addition to the "unknown outcomes" line that we've argued around for weeks now.  This book, more than any we've read so far, seemed to fall under this definition. 

Albanov leaves the St. Anna's first eighteen months out of it entirely, demonstrating that to Albanov the adventure was the kayak/sledge/ski journey to land, and not the initial trip.  In fact, he likely viewed the initial trip as an exciting hunting trip--a trip we might call "adventurous" but more in the colloquial sense than using the definitions we've discussed. 

Furthermore, Albanov may not recount the initial trip because that was a planned journey with a planned destination and return (not unlike mountaineering expeditions).  Although we can argue that there are still unknown outcomes that could happen--and clearly did happen, as they become trapped in ice--I think the "unknown outcomes" definition really must apply to unforeseen natural elements or bad luck.  For example, on this journey home, the destination and, more importantly, the route, are entirely unknown.  I think this is more what many of us have in mind when we take that position in class.

This unknown factor is exacerbated by the constant ice shifting, which brings Albanov "great pangs of concern."  Even once the route becomes clearer, it shifts out of his control, and he must again come up with a new plan in the moment.  Food on this expedition is similarly of a spontaneous nature, differing from past mountaineering expeditions we've read about.  Rather than their being a fixed amount of rations, the adventurers in this book can continue to hunt, which encourages them to push on to find more food; this is, of course, a risk because if they don't find any, yet continue to push hard, they will run out of what they have.  None of the variables are as fixed in this story, which seems to make it the most adventurous of all.

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