Thursday, April 25, 2013

Konrad's Journal

Roberts made some assumptions in his analysis of Konrad's journal that I think were a bit brash. Considering the sparseness of Konrad's entries, there's not much in the way of material to inform the history of the events surrounding Albanov's voyage in the Arctic. I just wanted to say briefly that some of the jumps Roberts makes I'm not entirely convinced of; for example I'm not convinced that Albanov and Konrad agreed not to mention in their diaries that Konrad had been a thief. Roberts even suggested that Konrad had fabricated entries for several days previous of that upon which he'd been 'found out.' This seems rather elaborate for two men fighting for their own survival, with no guarantee of ever seeing civilization again. I think that the only sure thing we can take from Konrad's journal is that he was entirely unprepared for the voyage - he cared for food and didn't seem to understand the gravity of the situation, nor did he have a care for others than himself. Particularly the fluctuation between first and third person within Konrad's diary is troubling and suggests a level of mental instability. I just think Roberts made a lot of assumptions about the events of the trip, and I question the apparently insatiable need to know, for sure, exactly what happened. Why can't we just take the journals as they are? Humans are strangely fascinated with speculation. I'm no exception, either.


  1. I also read the epilogue/Konrad's journal for today, and I do agree that Roberts makes assumptions based on the role he has already allotted for Albanov. Regardless of Roberts's assumptions and prejudices, however, I think that adding a second perspective in the epilogue does a nice job of continuing the discussion and creating a dialogue about the events on the ice.

  2. I agree that it seems extreme to theorize about Konrad's journal entries, especially those that Roberts believes are fabricated. When presented with conflicting entries, how is Roberts to know which events actually happened? Roberts is assuming that Albanov's journal is the primary source, and that any inconsistencies between the two reports points to an error or purposeful inaccuracy in Konrad's journal, not Albanov's. On page 217, Roberts discusses Konrad's entires after the thieves have returned to the main group, stating:
    "The entires would then represent a pathetic attempt to fill in a fictitious narrative that did not blatantly contradict Albanov's."
    It is hard to describe one journal as a "pathetic attempt" when there are only two existing journals about the ordeal. How are we to know which is accurate?

  3. I agree that Roberts makes some pretty big jumps when analyzing Konrad's journal. For instance, his analysis of Konrad's use of "two" is a stretch. Roberts claims that Konrad resorts to this awkward phrasing to avoid including his name or admitting that they were the only two (and the deserters). However, Roberts also tells us that Konrad was a much less eloquent writer than than Albanov, so couldn't this awkward phrasing result from his weaker grasp on the language? Some of Roberts' arguments are very convincing, though. The discrepancies between Albanov and Konrad's accounts starting after the departure of the thieves do seem to implicate Konrad. However, condemning Konrad based on these differences requires the assumption of Albanov's account's authority. After citing Kondrad's June 21st entry, Roberts writes, "What is going on in this bizarre passage? Albanov's team, we know, did not succeed in climbing the glacier face to reach land until June 25th" (214). By writing "we know," Roberts admits that he accepts Albanov's account as indisputable fact. However, we have also read that Albanov suffered from hallucinations. It seems foolish for the reader to accept either account as completely factual. I wonder how it would affect Roberts' argument if Konrad's account had been published before Albanov's. Would he dissect Albanov's journal entries and argue, "The team, we know, actually succeeded in climbing the glacier face to reach land on June 21st"?