Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Redefining adventure

My post is similar to Dan's.  I apologize for the repetition, but I had already drafted my response and didn't have time to change it.  I'll try to go in a bit of a different direction with my analysis, though.

I also began reading "In the Land of White Death" with Janelle's definition of adventure in mind.  Albanov never uses the word "adventure" to describe his ordeal; instead, he writes "When we embarked on our voyage" (23).  And, the voyage takes an unplanned turn, prompting Albanov and some of the crew to leave the ship and venture onto the ice.  Therefore, Albonov's narrative does not represent a constructed and premeditated attempt at an "adventure."  According to Janelle's definition, then, Albanov's voyage fulfills at least one crucial criterion of adventure.  It also satisfies the "uncertainty requirement," since Albanov repeatedly writes that he does not know if he and the others will ever reach civilization.  However, those left on the ship resign to "an uncertain fate," so, unless we classify that as a second adventure, it appears that uncertainty cannot serve as the only qualification for adventure.

Based on the two criterion mentioned above, it would seem that Albanov's voyage is the prototypical adventure.  However, I couldn't help but feel that "In the Land of White Death" presented the least adventuresome ordeal.  I think that this reaction stems in part from the overwhelming sense of dread that Albanov expresses; his voyage is not something he chooses but that instead is forced upon him by an unfortunate set of circumstances.  At first I thought my reaction contradicted Janelle's definition, but I don't think that spontaneity necessarily excludes self-determination. 
I do think, though, that my initial feeling that one cannot classify a series of events as an adventure when the person involved is not somehow enthused or invested in the voyage stems from my automatic association of "adventure" with an adventure-loving "adventurer."  At one point, Albanov explains Denisov's motivation for joining the expedition: "the special nature of this new expedition appealed to his adventurous spirit" (38).  I haven't fully worked out this theory, but Albanov's description of Denisov leads me to believe that adventure is inherently individualized.  Whether one experiences something as an adventure (and whether the reader perceives it as such) depends upon the "spirit" he or she brings to the task.

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