Monday, April 7, 2014

Tell It Truth But Tell It Slant

In Valerian Albanov’s In The Land of White Death, we are presented with a new format of an adventure narrative that uses (polished) journal entries from the expedition, accompanied with sections written after the fact. His brief overview of the state of the expedition doesn’t include a lot of information about crew that would follow him onto the ice. I thought it was particularly interesting how the style and more importantly, the reader’s impression of the crew changed between these journal entries and the rest of the book. This is different from many of the other adventure books we’ve read so far, that have included throughout character descriptions and mountaineering resumés.

The journal format helps to convey the sense of uncertainty, necessity, and urgency of Albanov’s trip. I was really impressed by Albanov’s dedication to his entries and it was as if he had it down to a science, making sure to log wind direction, weather, estimated co-ordinates, and information about supplies after long days on the ice – sometimes that’s all there is. In his journal entries, which Albanov was likely writing with no intention of sharing with the world, he is critical of his crew and becomes extremely frustrated with their lack of motivation, particularly when within sight of land: "Another problem was the apathy of my companions. The closer we came to the island, the more unbearable their attitudes became." In the journal portion, he is quick to criticize his teammates, almost as if to vent his frustrations from the day’s journey: "My companions are no better than children"; "Not only are they incapable of any serious thoughts, but they also lack determination and enterprising sprit."

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