Monday, April 22, 2013

Adventures of Survival

I found In the Land of White Death to be an excellent change of pace from our previous readings. While the writing may not be the most exciting we've encountered thus far, the journal structure as well as the demands of the environment are completely different from the other narratives. For me, these changes made the story more engaging in a way it probably would not have been had we read it earlier in the semester before the texts on mountaineering.

The difference that I found the most intriguing is the fact that Albanov and his comrades have embarked on an adventure of survival. Unless I'm forgetting something, I believe this is the first such adventure we've read. In all other instances, our previous narrators willingly embarked on what they or we have deemed an adventure. In some cases their adventure evolved into one of survival (such as Touching the Void), but they began as missions of exploration, research, or even just plain entertainment. Albanov and his crew, on the other hand, did not exactly choose their adventure. Sure, they chose to embark on the Saint Anna and they chose to abandon the ship once it became ice locked, but theirs is an attempt to survive, not to learn. At least for me, this makes the account all the more compelling. It seems more dramatic when things go badly, perhaps because the characters are not in their current situation voluntarily.

Furthermore, and again unless I am much mistaken, in my opinion this is the first text that fits to Janelle's suggested definition of adventure as being unplanned and unexpected. Our past texts depict events that the narrators and other characters largely seemed to anticipate. Granted this anticipation could be the effect of authors writing after said events have transpired, yet it seems to me all of our other adventurers were better prepared for their journeys. For Albanov, the potential for adventure appears unexpectedly. He and his fellow crew members are constantly having to adapt to conditions and events that they did not anticipate (although they probably knew to be possibilities). When Janelle first suggested her definition of adventure, I completely did not accept it. Now that I've read Albanov's text, I see how it is possible to be thrown into events unexpectedly and to experience an adventure without having planned for it. Still, I'm not sure this is the only qualifying factor of adventure, since really I see Albanov's text belonging to a new genre: that of survival adventures.

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