Monday, April 14, 2014

What makes an "adventurer"?

Throughout the semester, we've talked a lot about what makes an “adventure narrative” and what mountains/adventures do. We've talked much less about the characters (or real people), and what defines a person as an adventurer or an explorer. In Endurance, Lansing describes the leader of the voyage, Ernest Shackleton as “above all, an explorer in the classic mold – utterly self-reliant, romantic, and just a little swashbuckling” (11).  This definition fits exactly with only a few of the characters that we've read so far. All of the climbing narratives we've read involve protagonists that are anything but self-reliant. The majority of those novels, like Annapurna and the Eiger Sanction, accepted teamwork and participation in order to succeed as a fact (swashbuckling also hasn't really been a major theme of any of our novels). Zeke is probably the only character that fits this description, but he could be viewed as the villain in Narwhal. What, then, defines the adventurer?

Is an adventurer someone that merely goes on a journey? We grappled with this idea in Narwhal and Into Thin Air. Would we consider Erasmus an adventurer because he went on Zeke’s voyage, because of something else, or not at all? Are the clients in Krakauer’s Into Thin Air adventurers, despite the fact that they are going on a guided voyage that has been charted out before them? Are there characteristics prevalent (or absent) throughout the books we've read that define “The Adventurer”?  

1 comment:

  1. I think I would have to say that an adventurer is someone who is willing to push themselves to go on these expeditions. To me, it doesn't matter what a person's motivation is, if they are putting themselves in situations that we (or they) define as adventures, how can we argue that they are anything but adventurers? I think some of the characters we've read about seem like awful people (Zeke) or seem to have extremely misguided motivations (the clients in Into Thin Air) but when it comes down to it, if you're on an adventure I think you have to be considered an adventurer even if you're doing a pretty terrible job.