Monday, April 29, 2013

In the Land of White Death: Why Write (An Epilogue)?

     "With the first publication here in any language of the key passages from Konrad's homely but intriguing diary, we know at last the causes of the torment he carried with him to the grave" (227).  So ends David Roberts' epilogue  to Valerian Albanov's In the Land of White Death.  In his epilogue, Roberts focuses not on Alabanov's story, but on the recently discovered (at least to him) diary of Konrad, a common sailor.  Roberts takes a number of passages from Konrad's diary, and analyzes them, claiming they hold a "truth" missing from Albanov's story, all the while dismissing Kondrad as an unworthy witness because of his education and rank.  This tension in his writing reminded me of the epilogue to Into Thin Air, where Krakauer defends his work, except Roberts has nothing to defend.  He has no reason to call Konrad out with so little evidence, because he is not operating from a defensive stance, and so his epilogue feels cheap and sensational.

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