Monday, February 17, 2014

Dedications and Epigraphs

One of my favorite things to do when I read books is to read the dedications and the epigraphs that authors include. I know that most people usually skim over these parts, but I love them. I have been very interested in the dedications and epigraphs of the first three books that we have read for this class. What has interested me the most is how much the dedications and epigraphs reflect the writing/climbing-leader styles of each of the authors/mountaineers. In class, we talked a lot about how Herzog and his Annapurna expedition were concerned with conquering the mountain “in the name of France.” This is reflected in his dedication (he does not have an epigraph), as he states that the book is “to Lucien Devies- who was one of us.” As Herzog dedicates the book to the French president of the Expedition, this dedication further reflects how much Herzog thought of this expedition as “for France;” so much so that even someone who did not even go to Annapurna could be “one of us.” Arlene Blum’s dedication and epigraph reflect her much different view on her expedition to Annapurna. Her dedication to the two fallen members of the expedition and her epigraph that emphasizes that “you never conquer a mountain” reflect how much Blum was concerned with the teamwork aspect of the expedition, rather than claiming the mountain. For Krakauer’s book, the dedication and epigraph reflect his emphasis on the tragedy of his expedition. He dedicates the book to the fallen members and then his epigraph emphasizes that “Men play at tragedy because they do not believe in the reality of the tragedy which is actually being staged in the civilized world” (quote by Jose Ortega y Gasset). This reflects the tragedy that Krakauer focuses on from the very beginning. The first thing we read after his introduction is a list of “Dramatis Personae,” as if this book is a Shakespeare tragedy.  Also, Krakauer does not follow a linear timeline of his expedition as he begins this book. Instead he starts at the top of the mountain and lets us know on the second page that “Later-after six bodies had been located, after a search for two others had been abandones, after surgeons had amputated the gangrenous right hand of my teammate Beck Weathers- people would ask why” (6). Of course, it makes sense that dedications and epigraphs would reflect the book as a whole, I just thought it was interesting to explore. 

No comments:

Post a Comment