Monday, March 3, 2014

Proving Oneself: the Motivations Behind Writing

In his afterword “Ten Years On…”, Simpson writes: “I wrote this book in the hope that, by telling the story ‘straight,’ it might nip in the bud any harsh or unfair criticism of Simon. The rope cutting clearly touched a nerve… until I wrote it down as honestly as I could” (206). While we often talk about motivations behind mountain climbing and inspirations of adventure, we haven’t really touched on the author’s motivations to write and record their personal stories about these topics. While Krakauer describes that he wrote his book in order to come to terms with what happened and Blum wrote her text because she felt it was something she had to do, Simpson wrote this book as a tool for justification and clarification. Some authors that we have read for this class seem to write for themselves and recount their stories as a personal memoir, others write to proclaim the glory of their actions and brag about their adventures, like Herzog. Simpson admits here that he is writing because even though he and Simon do not “(pay) much attention to (‘secondhand opinions’) after the accident” (206), Simpson still feels the need to defend his companion against the critics. This begs the question: do adventure writers and their works originate from an inherent need to prove themselves and their actions? Many writers that we have read so far describe their decision to climb as highly personal and for themselves (except for Herzog, who climbs for France). If this is the case, then how can a reader reconcile these highly personal ideals with the very public decision to write a book?

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