- Uncovering a more tragic truth about the Holocaust
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While Rachel wasn't someone I would want to know personally, I thought her character was well written and completely believable. Some great reads! I have Girl on the Train on my Kindle to read. I am undecided whether to watch it now that I have read the book - I don't know how the format of interior monologues would translate to the screen So I don't worry about it too much. Books finished between January: 9.
The Four Feathers by A. And I followed up reading the book by rewatching the film - interesting to see what had been changed with all the details fresh in my mind. I am glad I finally got around to reading this classic! Maybe that made me expect too much or maybe her style wasn't one that I admire.
Some aspects of the writing appealed to me and reminded me of Willa Cather and Katherine Mansfield mostly the descriptions but the stories themselves struck me as pointless and bleak the sort of thing that made me dislike O. I am glad I tried this but I won't be in a hurry to read more. Overall the characters and plot were interesting enough that I will continue to the next book in the series. One important fact that the introduction provided was that Strindberg wrote this play " Even with the wife Tekla clearly being portrayed as the "bad" one in the marriage, I noticed that there was a strong vein of feminism similar to Ibsen's Hedda Gabler in many ways.
Women can be stolen as you steal children or chickens? And you regard me as his chattel or personal property. I am very much obliged to you! What have you given? And if it be true, then I must have taken it. Are you beginning to send in bills for your gifts now? A thought-provoking play that I need to ponder further Malone is a bedridden old man who doesn't know where he is or how he got there. While he waits for death, he rambles to himself. Interspersed with his wondering about his present condition are stories.
Are these stories about himself memories of his life or are they about people he knew which is how Malone presents them or are they just made up stories he is using to while away the time? The stream-of-consciousness writing is confusing at first but as the book progresses, the reader starts to get his own ideas of what the stories may represent. As for the audiobook, Sean Barrett does a marvelous narration in his wonderful Irish accent. Books finished January: However, the ending was surprisingly heartrending so maybe it deserves another star I found Maggie's behavior in these final sections so intensely irritating that it ruined the book for me.
And I loved the look at how the Luna colonists handled marriage as well as other aspects of life there. To top it all off, there is Mike -- the computer who has become sentient though nobody except Manny knows it at the start of the book! It was beautifully written and easy to read but the characters, especially Komako, made no sense to me. Glad you enjoyed it also. Glad to have my reading mojo back! I also really liked Stranger in a Strange Land which I read a few years ago You've made some great progress! I have Four Feathers on my list because of the movie, but not the one, the one.
I will have to see if I can find it through my library. Books finished 29 Jan - 4 Feb: For example: "Lady Fortescue, who had overheard the aside, reflected that no one could ever call Miss Tonks pretty, and yet the new hair-style made her look undoubtedly interesting and mundane. Mundane means 'lacking interest'! While I found the recipes at the end of the chapters sounded good, I would have preferred having them all at the end of the book where they didn't interrupt the flow of my reading.
Once I started listening though, it came back to me. Wanda McCaddon does an excellent narration and this Golden Age mystery stands up to the test of time well imo. I was surprised to find that taken as a whole, the Icelandic poetry section was the one I liked best! I also really was moved by the WW2 poetry from Norway.
However, I found this captured my interest, at least in part because I lived in L. Paul Christy did a good narration. One negative worth mentioning though: the book jumps around in time a bit abruptly. A few extra sentences connecting the previous chapter with the new one might have helped in this regard. I hope to go back and edit the individual books but those listed in post 3 with the bingo square are the up-to-date assignments.
Books finished February: It has been many decades since I read this series of books and over a decade since I saw the movie so when I found this audio version, it seemed like it was time for a reread. Chrissi Hart does a good job with the narration. Now as an adult, I still enjoy the fantasy adventure parts but can appreciate the themes of the book more.
However, I found that while the allusions to Christianity are quite obvious in this, it never felt 'preachy' to me. The murder of a university president forms the basis of this version of a locked room mystery. I found the beginning slow going, mostly due to Innes' style of prose. I don't think this is the type of mystery where the reader can figure out who is guilty before the detective I certainly didn't! All in all, an excellent example of this genre of mystery. While I am not very political myself, I like satires very much. This one uses a variation of Romeo and Juliet as a framework: Charles Egremont, newly-elected aristocratic Member of Parliament, meets and falls in love with the beautiful poor Chartist Sybil Gerard.
Disraeli used little subtlety in making his point of England being "Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; The book covers the conditions of farming labourers, mill workers, miners and metalworkers - each suffers in a different way but all suffering. Hoaxem etc. Julian's belief that all that is necessary for the party to secure a Member's vote on some particular issue is to have "asked some of them to dinner, or given a ball or two to their wives and daughters!
Losing a vote at such a critical time, when if I had had only a remote idea of what was passing through his mind, I would have even asked him to Barrowley for a couple of days. However, the approach of 3 men experiencing this all-female society and of course, the women are experiencing their first men! For my thoughts on the book, see my Kindle edition of Something New alternate title.
Something New includes a lengthy scene in which Baxter finds a paint-splashed lady's shoe in the library after the theft and attempts to identify its owner: this scene was omitted from Something Fresh ; Wodehouse had previously used the same sub-plot in the second part of the school novel, Mike. The more I read the Rincewind books, the more I love the Luggage. The reason I waffled so much is that I found the plot hilarious but had some trouble with the Scot dialects I have trouble reading dialects of all kinds. Here are some examples of the dialect these are fairly clear as to their meaning but illustrate the way the dialects were written : " 'I'm sorry, Captain MacPhee, but unless the peer comes by Monday's poat the peer will be where the whisky is, and that's nowhere at all' said the big hotel keeper.
The crapefruits wass never in poxes. Crapefruits chaca! I've reread them so many times, but the Narnia -books never get old to me. I'm not religious, but the allegory parts don't bother me either. I've grown up with the characters, so they can really do no wrong. Anyway, with trips to the hospital to see him and then to my mom to help out, I had little time for the computer but lots of driving time to listen to audiobooks! They were the perfect type of reading while I was stressed out about my dad so I have read some more in both series since my last post :.
The Scarlet Ruse by John D. Hi Leslie, I am glad that your Dad is feeling better and back at home. I remember loving those two books. They made a TV mini series of them but from what I remember, the casting was a little off or at least didn't agree with my mental pictures. And you're starting the Liaden series which I also love. I have The Wycherly Woman in that same edition! Sorry to hear that your dad had to go to hospital. Glad to hear that he is feeling better and at home! I have Fledgling on my Kindle from the Liaden series - should I read this next or get another entry from the library?
Audiobooks are great for long drives, aren't they? Books finished between 27 Feb - 5 March: Le Guin by Ursula K. Le Guin generally makes me think about various issues in her writing and many of these stories did that : I had of course seen the Merchant-Ivory film adaptation before but I found the book had more depth to it.
The film was true to the plot but the book contained some philosophical themes, such as what things are worth striving for in life, which the film understandably couldn't portray as well or at all. The French missionary is, I am sure, correctly portrayed but I couldn't take his attitude towards the native Americans. And the realism was more grisly than I could take This thriller, which I picked up in a Whispersync deal back in March , was already downloaded to my phone so I started listening to it Paul Michael did a good narration, especially with the French bits.
I was a bit surprised that the text of this audiobook edition was slightly different than the Kindle edition. It was almost as if the Kindle edition which matched my memory of my brother's paperback I read back before I kept records of my reading was a later revised edition. For example, early in the story in the audiobook Langdon talks about seeing the museum in the glow of "infrared light" which is ridiculous as the human eye can't see IR but in the Kindle edition this has been corrected to read "red service lighting".
Perhaps this is one reason the audiobook was so cheap! Another minor irritation with the audio edition is that it is one in which the so-called chapters have no relationship with the chapters of the text presumably they were the number of tape cassette sides before the recording was digitized Glad to see he is back home and feeling better. I think that its bleakness was a bad match for my feelings while I was coping with my dad's illness - I needed more lighthearted reading to cheer me up.
Now that he is recovered for the most part, it will go back on the TBR Books finished between March: I was a bit nervous as I have had mixed reactions to French classics, loving some such as The Three Musketeers and disliking others such as Madame Bovary I was pleased to find that this is a great book! I found the ending rather sad I am now looking forward to reading more Balzac : Ed McBain invented the police procedural subgenre in which a whole precinct is the hero rather than an individual detective and that provided the basis for such ensemble TV shows In this 3rd book in the series, we meet again Detective Steve Carella who was featured in the first book but the story really revolves around his boss, Lieutenant Byrnes.
The plot could have been set last year instead of in ; it is rather a sad commentary about drug use in the U. Some interesting ideas about belief and ritual I found this one less humorous but maybe that is because I don't know a lot about ancient Egypt. As always, I love the footnotes in Pratchett's books! Of course, she quickly solves the case once she appears on the scene! It is almost as if Christie's publisher talked her into adding in a familiar sleuth rather than making it one of her stand-alone mysteries Richard E. Grant is marvelous in his narration of the audiobook. I really appreciated all the different voices he did for the different characters!
In addition to lampooning the rich, Edgeworth includes some social commentary about the Irish and the Anglo-Irish landlords. A quick and easy read that has grown on me a bit since I finished it. I may end up increasing my rating at some time Unlike the Vorkosigan books, this one is strictly fantasy rather than science fiction. As I had expected, Bujold does a great job with the world-building and her characters are well developed. In addition, this tale, though in a completely fictional world, mirrors the real-life story of Queen Isabelle of Castile which adds some fun to the reading.
There are some other parallels if you look for them. Lloyd James did a good narration. He was particularly good as Cazaril but yet I missed Grover Gardner who was so magnificent in the Vorkosigan books Hi Leslie, you sure have been reading up a storm. I loved The Orenda but can certainly see that it would be a difficult read when RL is stressful.
I noticed when I wasn't feeling well earlier this year that I really needed to read lighter, more cheerful books. Glad your Dad is back home and doing well. You've had lots of good audio-reading! Your comments about The Orenda is exactly how I thought it would be, so I've put it off until the right time - assuming there will be one someday. I guess that I feel like there is enough misery in life already so if the book doesn't grab me right away, it is easier for me to abandon one that is dark than one that is light. For good or bad, though, if I am liking the story I find that I can't leave the book to listening just in the car so I go through them faster than I intended.
I have updated my categories above but haven't had the time or energy to do my synopses Unfortunately my father is back in the hospital so it is unlikely that I will update in the near future. I'm so sorry to hear about your father, sending good thoughts your way. I'm very sorry to hear your father's not doing well.
Thinking of you. It looks like I won't be resuming my synopses anytime soon. However I have updated my categories above and am keeping up with my ROOT thread if anyone wants to look at that. Wodehouse, audiobook borrowed through Hoopla. Not bad but a book that required more attention than I am currently capable of Good fun! Significantly different from the Cary Grant movie, a satire on a NY banker's mid-life crisis complicated by ghosts from the s.
Over 2 months since I last posted Sadly, after several months of feeling mostly okay despite his multiple myeloma, my father's health took a sudden turn for the worse a few weeks ago and he passed away on Tuesday. I am glad that I got to spend time with him during these last few months. Hopefully I will be back more regularly in a few weeks. I'm so sorry to hear that, leslie.
My deepest condolences for your loss. Glad to see you were able to spend time with him before he passed away. I'm so sorry for you. Hope you found some comfort in the time spent with him. I'm so sorry to hear about your father! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I wanted to let you know how sorry I am to hear of your Dad passing. Take care of yourself and enjoy your memories of him. I'm glad you were able to spend time with him. I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope you have many fond memories to sustain you in this difficult time.
I'm so sorry for the loss of your father. I hope you are surrounded by love and kindness in this difficult time. I'm so sorry to hear about your father. Glad you got to spend some time with him. My thoughts are with you. I am glad to hear that you were able to spend time with him at the end. That was one of my regrets when my father passed. So sorry for your loss. Thank you all for your kind thoughts. I appreciate all the messages as I know how easy it is to click on to something else when it is hard to figure out what to say. I am slowly getting to a new normal now.
To ease myself back into the flow here at LT, I have started posting on some of the threads but catching up on my own thread is too daunting at the moment. Be sure though that I am still reading! Hopefully I will finish updating the others early next week. I am 'officially' abandoning category 7 Proust Books finished this week August : The section on Sally Bowles was of course familiar to me from the musical Cabaret though I got a slightly different impression of her character from the book.
Stick Fly by Lydia R. MA Upper class African-American family dynamics during a weekend at Martha's Vineyard when the 2 sons bring home their girlfriends for the first time. It wasn't as good as another one I have read, Green For Danger ; I think Cockrill being friends with the suspects hampered things a bit. As with most WWI stories, it is gritty and heartwrenching. I find that is even more affecting in audiobook form than in the written word, so it took me a while to make it through this despite its short length.
As for the narration, it was neither great nor terrible. A tad on the slow side but not so much as to make me use the 1. August reread: No change from the above Quite silly but a fun novella to while away a summer day. Adam Baldwin does a great narration especially Jimmy the intern. I suspect if I had read some of the Peter Grant series, I would have enjoyed this more. However, I was constantly bothered by a question which was never answered: How did the chimes manage to erase people's memories?? Biologically speaking, this didn't make any sense to me.
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And it didn't take all the memories such as the names of objects or how to do things which made the process even harder for me to understand. And since sound doesn't carry to everywhere in the globe, what happens at the edges, where people unaffected by the Carillion meet or interact with those who are affected? The lack of an answer to this made me slightly unsatisfied with the book as a whole Fat Angie by e. The mother Connie made my blood boil as in my opinion she was emotionally abusing her daughter rather than just being neglectful. I enjoyed the quirky humour of A Rare Book of Cunning Device , and also read it because it was a freebie.
Books finished August: I enjoyed this Swedish novel very much. Stephen Crossley does a wonderful narration too; I am glad to have the chance to listen to this via Audible channels : I had seen the film based on the book already but found that the book was much funnier and had more layers to it. Both the film and the book made me think of a Swedish version of Forrest Gump though significantly better IMO in that during his lifetime, Alan just happens to meet many world leaders and participate in some world history in the same way that Forrest Gump did.
Alan however is a more interesting personality. This is one of Heyer's best, in my opinion, and I was glad to use this month's AlphaKIT as an excuse to enjoy this once again. Bartleby sure is a strange character! If you have never read Melville, this short story might be a good place to start. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. This YA fantasy is one which is enjoyable for adults as well something that too few contemporary YA are able to do in my experience - I can see why it is considered a classic. Not a bad way to while away some summer hours but these are not really mysteries in my sense of the term.
It isn't possible for the listener to figure out who the murderer is before the big reveal and the killer's motivation is never explained.
I think that I enjoyed Fen's literary references much more in this reread as I am more familiar with the authors mentioned than I was 25 years ago when I first read this. This play has many similarities with Hansberry's classic but felt more helpless; perhaps that is why it didn't appeal to me as much. Or maybe it's that this play is much more about the men as the title does indicate! Not bad but if I hadn't gotten it for free I probably wouldn't have read it. Free Fall in Crimson by John D. So it was a pleasant surprise to find that it is set in Boston with some excursions into a suburb I know well!
Kirsten Potter did a good job narrating. I will have to try some more D. Warren books The Girl With the Pearl Earring was so much better! I think that somehow my counting has gotten mixed up -- Goodreads says I have finished books, my notebook says with 3 unfinished so done and LT has me at the above plus 2 finished today. Oh well I am somewhere in this vicinity! So all confusion has been cleared up :. Books finished 27 Aug - 2 Sept: I am so tired of reading "romance" novels that turn out to be soft-core porn.
This book was the first I have read by Cadell but I am sure that I will be seeking out more of her work. Professional Integrity by Michael J. The stories are reminiscences of Recife and if I knew the city or even the country, I might have enjoyed them more. I liked the setting and the main character John, Lord Chamberlain for Justinian. I also had a fondness for the bull dancers from Crete which reminded me of Mary Renault Erudite and bizarre mystery about art theft.
Richard Meredith, a middle-aged scholar of Juvenal and literary criticism, is catapulted into this adventure by mischance - don't worry if the first chapter puts you off as the story really starts with the second one; the first one makes more sense later on. Although Inspector Appleby isn't in this book, it did remind me of a few of his adventures in both writing and the bizarreness! However, unlike Appleby, Meredith and his young female companion are amateurs, civilians caught up in unravelling a criminal organization.
It is one of the 'innocent gets caught up with villians' type books such as Mary Stewart and Helen MacInnes wrote, only the innocent this time is a man instead of a girl. Nature gave Hugo Ross the appearance of a fresh, innocent, gullible boy; luckily for him, he was smarter than he looked and goes to Benbow Smith for advice. I do love this kind of story! I noticed this before in reading some of the Father Brown stories.
The plots are interesting enough yet I can't say that I like them. I didn't much care for Wiederman's narration either, which made me resort to following along or rereading certain sections in my Kindle edition in order to understand what was happening. Oh well, it was free so nothing lost! Flashman is involved in the first Anglo-Afghan war while Ashton Pelham-Martyn was present for the second Anglo-Afghan war; neither of them were typical British Army but otherwise they are quite different characters!!
His actions, particularly in regard to women, are awful but the reader can't help liking him. Perhaps it is because he is so open about all his weaknesses that one prefers him to the braver but stupider or hypocritical soldiers around him.
Uncovering a more tragic truth about the Holocaust
And this finished my entire Bingo card. As for the mystery - it was really only a mystery for the first half of the book, the second half being a thriller. The author throws in a twist at the end but it was easy enough for me to see it coming though not the actual identity of the killer. Being a woman, I found parts of this frightening and sadly believable but not enjoyable to read! A reader who is less easily frightened would probably give this a higher rating. I found the BingoDOG a good way to decide among different books when I was unsure what to read next so it went pretty easily until that last square.
Look at you go, and love the 5 star rating you gave to Frederica I haven't read that particular Heyer, yet. Always nice to know I can look forward to reading that one! Books finished September: Under a War-Torn Sky by L. The story of a young Virginian pilot shot down during WW2 and his experiences while he tried to make it back to Allied territory.
The writing is definitely YA which is its target audience which to my adult ears was a little annoying at times but overall not bad. Elizabeth Wiley does a very good narration which rather surprised me as the main character is male. Scobie is such a tragic figure! The broken rosary Scobie kept meaning to have repaired is a symbol that sticks in my mind Another thing that struck me was encapsulated in the phrase: " - that no human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another's happiness.
Ukridge by P. While having a friend like Ukridge would make life interesting, I am sure glad that I don't have such a friend! Not bad but not great. Some sections seemed to me to be padding but Peter Hermann's narration pulled me through those. If you like Patterson, you would probably give this a higher rating. In particular, I didn't care for the ending. Rosemary Leach does a fabulous narration.
That said, I did enjoy it and perhaps if you are a writer, Jake might seem more comic. I've always meant to get hold of a copy and reread it, you've reminded me I really must do that. I've never actually read any other of Greene's books, I ought to dig some others out too. I just realized that it is almost exactly 5 years ago that I first discovered the Guardian's list of novels. At that time I had read only of them, which somewhat shocked me as I thought of myself as well read. Now, after working on reading books from the list for 5 years 60 months!
While that is better, I still haven't read even half! You've been getting in lots of good reading! I've noticed that I have a lot of books from the Guardian's list on my tbr shelf and considering making it a category next year. I don't imagine I'll ever finish the list or even get as far as you have done! My busy lazy life seems to have no time for letter writing. I liked the first letter a lot. Nothing happened. So there you are. Anyway, shoot them along. I hope to get some new hifi stuff soon. Bachelors are always very keen on hifi — care more about the reproduction of their records than the reproduction of their species, haw haw.
Michelle Dean covers the story here. This has led, unsurprisingly, to people expressing strong opinions about Franzen online. It has also led to more discussions about truth-telling in nonfiction. Wallace was interviewed by Tom Scocca for the Boston Phoenix in , and last year Scocca put the full transcript of their talk up at Slate in five parts that start here. Some of it concerns the issues that confront an obsessively imaginative fiction writer who writes nonfiction. Wallace told Scocca at some length that he considered himself a fiction writer above all else.
Trudy especially comes to mind—. DFW: That, that was a very bad scene, because they were really nice to me on the cruise. And actually sent me a couple cards, and were looking forward to the thing coming out. And then it came out, and, you know, I never heard from them again. Is, you know, saying that somebody looks like Jackie Gleason in drag, it might not be very nice, but if you just, if you could have seen her, it was true. It was just absolutely true. But I was going to tell the truth. Which is, you know, a terrific, really nice, and not unattractive lady who did happen to look just like Jackie Gleason in drag.
Which is sort of a hard thing to picture. DFW: Actually the first draft of that did have that, and the editor pointed out that not only did this waste words, but it looked like I was trying to have my cake and eat it too. That I was trying to tell an unkind truth but somehow give her a neck rub at the same time. So it got cut. The letter below was written by Stendhal to his sister Pauline on Oct.
The arts promise more than they perform. This idea — or, rather, this charming sentiment — has just been given to me by a German street-organ which played, as it passed through the street next to mine, a tune of which two passages are new to me — and, what is more, are charming, in my opinion. The tears almost came into my eyes. The first time I ever took pleasure in music was at Novara, a few days before the battle of Marengo. I went to the theatre, where they were playing Il Matrimonio Segreto.
The music delighted me like an expression of love. I think no woman I have had ever gave me so sweet a moment, or at so light a price, as the moment I owe to a newly heard musical phrase. This pleasure came to me without my in any way expecting it: it filled my whole soul.
I have told you of a similar sensation that I once had at Frascati when Adele leant against me while we were watching fireworks: I think this was the happiest moment of my life. The pleasure must have been truly sublime, for I still remember it although the passion that caused it is entirely extinguished. The train ride here, down the hypotenuse to Texas, is utter peace. After you leave St. Louis, you ride another good train, following the Mississippi from till dark, as close to the water as the train used to go along the Riviera it may still!
Then that night, the whole world was lit up with fireflies. The train must have been going through wild country, hardly any electric lights, all darkness, and flashing, flashing from the ground to way up in dark trees, mile after mile. Austin is green, with huge live oaks, and oleanders, magnolias, gardenias etc.
There is a wild clematis called the leather flower — dark ruby red —. Desert rock, fishes, pools, children, saints, birds, snails, cat, poets all clear and jewel-like color and pure line. Well, I wish I could send you one. You would know how it restored me to see you and how happy I felt to be there.
And that marvelous, marvelous dinner, a creation of a dinner. But all the better. I have it to look forward to. Love to Kate and Brookie, love to you, from Eudora. Each day this week, the blog will feature two letters. You were brimful of prunes when you wrote that. I read it carefully before it was published and I have just read it again. Several other people of sound judgment have read it, too, and they concur in my opinion. Every once in a while such a thing as this comes up: someone misses the point of what we say about him and assumes that he is being spoofed.
Almost invariably, this happens to people whose powers of discernment are blunted, either temporarily or permanently, by hypersensitivity or a sense of insecurity, or both. Columning is a deadly occupation, leading frequently and successively to overzealousness, super-seriousmindedness, monomania, hysteria, and sometimes madness. When a columnist begins to take himself too seriously he is in grave danger.
Look around. Look at what happened to Broun, Pegler, Winchell, and several others. Look at the states they got themselves in. But it took them years, whereas you got the heebee-jeebees in eight or ten days. If this condition continues, or recurs frequently, I urge that you wage your attack upon fascism, in which I sincerely wish you well, with some other weapon than the syndicated column.
The one below was written by Anton Chekhov to publishing magnate Alexei Suvorin, his close friend, on Sept. It would be appropriate only in cases where the lie is a conscious one. Having money and eating meat Tolstoy calls a lie — which is going too far. Yesterday I was informed that Kurepin is hopelessly ill with cancer of the neck.
Before he dies the cancer will have eaten up half his head and torment him with neuralgic pains. I was told his wife has written you. Little by little death takes its toll. It knows its job. Try writing a play along these lines: an old chemist has concocted an elixir of immortality — a dose of fifteen drops and one lives eternally; but the chemist breaks the vial with the elixir out of fear that such carrion as he and his wife will continue to live forever.
The hell with the philosophy of the great of this world! All eminent sages are as despotic as generals, as discourteous and lacking in delicacy as generals, because they know they are safe from punishment. And so, the hell with the philosophy of the great of this world! So, I thought I would share more letters. The first will immediately follow this post. The obsession with the sexual preferences of famous writers could be viewed as the possible downfall of academia: who cares about the poems when you can bury yourself in letters, photos, and hearsay to reinterpret the work in light of scandalous biographical details?
Hollinghurst, the winner of the Booker Prize for The Line of Beauty and the author of several other novels, is a writer who understands the power of sensual sentences. It would have been strange, in some middle-aged drawing-room, to have stood on the hearthrug with Sir Cecil, in blank disavowal of their mad sodomitical past. Was it even a past? Nearly every character in this novel asks the same question. As Cecil goes on being dead, even the people closest to him, including George, lose control over his legacy. The life and death of Rupert Brooke, to whom Hollinghurst makes several references in the text, is the obvious inspiration for Cecil.
To tell the story of Cecil and his immediate legacy alone would be a tall order for any novelist, but Hollinghurst pushes it not one, not two, but three generations farther, creating an epic novel about the mined path of the literary biography. Daphne, for one, wonders if Paul and Peter would be interested in Cecil if he had survived to old age. This is just my guess. Jessica Ferri is a writer living in Brooklyn.
You can visit her online here. Bangs was an important tastemaker, championing the Velvet Underground, garage rock, the Stones, all blues-based, noisy rock. Every piece is a mini-memoir spurred by a song: either the writer is telling you about himself and, incidentally, he is telling you about the music, or vice versa. A book is a book is a book. He also shares stories about his upbringing and his family:.
I will never kill myself like Vincent Van Gogh. Nor will I paint beautiful water lilies like Monet. His brother felt the same way: after their childhood, they were too dysfunctional. And we — making fun of them. I remember when my brother was dying, he looked at me and his eyes were all teary. The second book by Deutsch, a physicist and pioneer of quantum computation, has gotten strong — if partly befuddled — notices.
But a reader can be grounded by the most important strand of this many-stranded world-view: the one that focuses on the importance of people, by considering what, exactly, people are. Deutsch mounts a compelling challenge to scientific reductionism, which explains all phenomena in terms of their physical components. Yes, atomic theory, chemistry and genetics have worked spectacularly well at explaining many features of nature.
But small-scale processes, the author notes, spawn so-called emergent phenomena that require understanding on their own terms. Bodies give rise to minds, which in turn give rise to ideas, which have no specific physical properties but can nonetheless influence human behavior in profound ways, as the Enlightenment itself demonstrates. You can watch Horgan and Deutsch discuss the book and other subjects here. The clip is worth watching on a purely visual level, too, since Deutsch is a sleepy-eyed, bowl-haired genius who looks like he might have been designed by Jim Henson.
Tom Bissell writes a lovely profile of Jim Harrison for Outside. Worth reading in full. We were silent for a while. Every day of the year, the first thing I do after breakfast is take the dogs for a walk. They absolutely depend on it. I also spoke to La Farge about the project:. Greil Marcus recently celebrated the fact that the book has finally arrived in paperback. Well before the end of his life, after he had lost most of his teeth in a drug-related beating in San Francisco, after he had turned into as charming, self-pitying, manipulative, professional a junkie as any in America or Europe, where for decades he made his living less as a musician than a legend, Baker wore the face of a lizard.
In some photographs he barely looks human. In its opening pages, a nameless narrator confesses that he has murdered an old man to get the money to publish a book about an eccentric philosopher. As a consequence of his actions, the narrator is transported to a hellish parallel universe, populated by killers and madmen and patrolled by three sinister policemen.
The book is at once an existential whodunnit, an absurdist work of science fiction, a post-colonial allegory, and a dark, Menippean satire. In its philosophical scope and comic vision, it is funnier than Joyce and bleaker than Beckett, and is now considered one of the first — and finest — examples of postmodernist literature. This includes me. The publisher of The Wilder Life seems to have little doubt the books were targeted to girls. This was especially true in my case, as I already lived in Kansas, just miles north of the original Little House.
As our parents and their peers enjoyed the privileges of young adulthood in the s, we were supposed to relish a fictional world with neither cars nor electricity. And perhaps also poke some fun at the homey trappings of a cultural birthright that many of us would have preferred to shrug off. McClure is not the wry, snarky guide you might expect from her generation.
Ultimately, the book is too sweet — or cautious — to fit neatly into the bewildered urbanite category. It might be irresponsible for a reviewer to wish for another thing a book could have been, but I caught myself wanting this one to be more than a breezy travelogue with thin historical padding. Surely, the question of what about the series seems to foster the projections of groups as disparate as the Hmong settlers of Walnut Grove, Minnesota, some of whom say the fictional Walnut Grove of the television series drew them there, and Slovenian visitors to the Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri, where they can find Slovenian translations of the Little House book, deserves a book-length answer.
Annie Murphy Paul takes a swing at it. Andrew Gamble reviews a new book about the U. I will be posting around here while on vacation. In a two-part interview — here and here — he talks about writing songs and fiction , as well as his listening habits, which are sometimes innovative:. I used to have two stereos, and I would pick minimalist music from the early 60s like John Cale. Pallet-cleansing, droning, atonal music, something without a lot of drama or aggression. It was amazing to hear how the music affected the perception of the words. It was a really fun experiment. I was also heartened by this part of the interview, when he talks about the impact of recent day jobs, including driving a forklift in a warehouse:.
I was touring and working a lot alone. I love being alone, and I can stay in the house for days at a time, just working, without leaving. But I realized after doing that for a while that my social skills had diminished. And I noticed that my live shows were changing dramatically, from standing onstage talking and playing and having a much more vibrant experience to being completely shut down. It got to the point where I was doing entire sets all as one piece and barely saying a word to the audience.
No breaks or interaction. After a while I opened up, because I was forced to interact with people. Slowly the stage shows are opening up for me, largely because of the interaction with people on those jobs. But it still seems possible she will complete the goal, which would be impressive. Melville House joined in the fun by challenging other readers to join Evangelista and compete for prizes throughout the month. The interested are urged to join at nine levels, including Curious one novella , Passionate nine novellas , and Fanatical 27 novellas.
Last week, I read Lucinella by Lore Segal. Life can be confusing. Lucinella is very funny. It is, in short, a satire of the writing life. It builds to a conclusion that I found quite moving. And it contains the exchange below, which is now one of my all-time favorites. We pick it up from there:. William is thinking. Who can neither eat nor write nor love so long as my house is not in perfect order, how am I a slob?
Nag me some more. Go on. John Self takes a look at the less famous novel , which is told from the perspective of a group of Neanderthals:. Evolution is the invisible character in the book, driving everything. The challenges facing the Neanderthals — finding food, returning home, getting across the river when the log they normally use goes missing — are amplified because they are not alone. Its strength is in how it renders a world without thought as we understand it, and becomes a complete and convincing world. A: The Back to The Future trilogy is perfect and contains no plot holes!
Except for the plot hole inherent in nearly all time travel films: The planet Earth is moving through space at an immense speed at all times. So if you travel back in time, you are traveling to a time when the Earth was in a different location, and you and your time machine would appear somewhere out in deep space. Are Japanese kids who mimic punk to the last detail somehow more authentic than the original punks? What does the nostalgic taste of hipsters have in common with the global economy?
Why has popular music felt stalled for so long? Has the very idea of the future lost its pull? Along with his encyclopedic music brain, Reynolds brings an accessible but intellectual style that draws on a broad range of cultural artifacts and authorities—a random sampling of index entries accurately reflects the array: Adam Ant, Harold Bloom, Can, Phil Collins, John Coltrane, Sigmund Freud, Gossip Girl , Cary Grant, The Jesus and Mary Chain… It also pointed me to about a thousand blogs, videos, records, and books to investigate.
One of the things I found most interesting about Retromania , in an age of polemic, was its underlying sense of struggle. Reynolds is a collector himself, an archivist of sorts, and I often felt—even coming from a writer who was deeply committed to rave culture when it was all the rage, and who argues for the value of always looking forward—an internal battle between the frontier of the new and the tug of the old. I asked him about this and other subjects over e-mail, and he responded at length—about everything from how Harry Connick Jr.
There are all kinds of things I came to a little late early R. Well, in many ways I can see why young people of the current era would want to listen to a lot of older music. One of the problems if you follow the innovation imperative as a musician is that increasingly the only ways forward involve getting more convoluted, abstruse, abstract, inclement to the ear. Let the vessel be provisioned for three years. It is my wish that your future husband should accompany the expedition as your representative; and I hope his brother Godfrey may also go. At this point, if the party should be fortunate enough to reach it, will be found a land-locked bay, on a mountainous coast which has never been visited but once, but which I now anticipate to be either a part of Gillis Land, or of the land lately discovered by Lieutenant Payer and the Austrian expedition, and called by them Kaiser Franz-Josef Land.
It was here that I and others wintered thirty years ago; and although, for many reasons into which I cannot enter, no account of this voyage was published, it is a fact that our party penetrated farther north than any other has yet done. Here, as there are extensive coal-fields, the expedition may winter in comfort.
Then a thorough search will be made within a radius of twenty miles of the bay, and especially in a NE. This is to be the principal motive of the expedition: To examine the ground carefully for traces of white men, and to follow up any such traces to an end. My reason for this step I am precluded from giving, but I hope it will be enough that I consider it of such importance that I should not care to die without taking means to have it carried through.
The search over, those engaged in it are at liberty to undertake any other project they may have in their minds. It is to be remembered that this point, if they gain it, is nearer the North Pole than has up to the present time been reached. I have every reason for believing that this route is much more practicable than that generally advocated—namely, via Smith's Sound and Robeson Channel; and so, if that be an inducement, those who go will have a better chance of attaining the goal, which so many have striven to reach in vain, than has yet fallen to the lot of any other party!
I have only to request, further, that the strictest secrecy be kept regarding these proceedings. This is more necessary than may be thought. You have now my directions before you, Edith, and it remains for you to say whether this expedition shall or shall not be despatched; whether the hope I have long cherished is to come to naught or is to be carried out; and whether a mystery which I have never been able to solve myself is to be solved after my death through the agency of my daughter.
The choice is before you, and it may not be long before you will have to decide, for I have just heard from the doctor that I may die at any moment. As the lawyer finished reading this extraordinary document, the live of us simultaneously gave a gasp of astonishment. Had Randolph Torrens really meant what he had written? But the instructions were plain enough, and all doubts as to how they would be received by the one principally concerned were put to an end by Edith. I know now what he meant just before he died,' she went on, her eyes filling with tears at the recollection, 'when he said, "Edith, be sure and obey me, even after my death.
He strictly enjoined me not to influence your decision in any way, nor, particularly, to do or say anything against the project, but merely to acquiesce in the decision you arrive at. But I could see that his mind was thoroughly bent on this work being undertaken after his death—why, I cannot even suspect. Of this one he never said a word to me; but I remember his excitement when, in , he heard of the discovery of Franz- Josef Land, and of his disappointment that the explorers had not penetrated farther north.
And often while he has been asleep after dinner I've heard him mutter about "ice" and "open water" and "treachery. Perhaps it had some connection with the mystery he speaks of. If we didn't, it would be like a breach of trust. We must go! Then we may know our ground. And, fortunately,' I cried, 'we've got the authority ready to our hand. For a sudden thought had struck me. On the shore, half-way between the Grange and Dreghorn, stood a house known all over the Riding as Narwhal Cottage.
It was occupied by a retired seaman, who had been for thirty years the commander of Greenland or Spitzbergen whalers alternated, in the earlier part of his career, with occasional voyages as ice-pilot to Franklin search and other Arctic expeditions , before, in his own words, saving enough to come to an anchor on land. Captain Sneddon he was called; and many were the stories he had told me of his adventures in the frozen sea, with which he was perhaps as well acquainted as any man alive.
We could hardly, indeed, have found one better suited for our purpose if we had searched all England. Edith in her impulsiveness wished to see him without loss of time; but the lawyer had one or two remarks to make before the meeting broke up. I am compelled to return to London by the first train, but I shall await your decision with the greatest interest.
Whatever it may be, I have full confidence in your wisdom and discretion. As to the details Mr Torrens has referred to, I have been looking over them, and I find that, as far as I am a judge, they are very comprehensive and complete. But I presume their discussion may be postponed until you finally decide. And, after some further talk, he took his departure for London, while Cecil and I looked over the details of which he had spoken.
They covered nearly a hundred pages of closely-written manuscript, and embraced, as the lawyer had indicated, every imaginable point connected with an Arctic expedition. And there is only one decision we can come to. Of course I can't go out to-day, but if you wouldn't mind, Godfrey, you and Cecil might see Captain Sneddon, and tell me what he thinks. Somehow, I feel that the longer we wait the more I am disobeying papa's last wish. I'm sure I shall never be easy in my mind until this expedition has started. For it must go; if I didn't obey that letter, I'd feel like a criminal all the rest of my life!
Haven't I, without this, more than enough already? Anyhow, rich or poor, the expedition starts. As to that there can be no other thought! But I saw that the events of the day had put Edith into a state of nervous excitement, and so, as the best means of calming her, Cecil and I resolved to pay our visit to the captain at the moment. Besides, we were burning with curiosity to have a chance of talking over the matter with one who had experience at his back.
So in a short time we took our leave, and as may be supposed, our conversation between the Grange and Narwhal Cottage was of nothing save the dying request—command, one might say—of Randolph Torrens. We discussed it from every point of view, and with more or loss enthusiasm, and I was not surprised to find that Cecil was quite determined to go. As for myself, I succeeded better in concealing my real feelings. Narwhal Cottage stood a little back from the road, sheltered by a cliff from the sea winds, and within a hundred yards of a tiny cove that harboured the captain's boat.
Upon the cliff stood a mast bearing a genuine 'crow's-nest,' one used by its owner during many a hazardous voyage in the frozen seas. Above this tapered the flag-staff, the Union Jack this day at half-mast. The cottage itself was a small but cosy house, 'for,' as the captain was wont to say, 'it's like killing more whales than you can carry to have a bigger dwelling than you need. He was in the crow's-nest—in which he spent most of the day, and, it was rumoured in the district, most of the night also—as we came up; and, seeing us, he descended with the agility of a sailor, and advanced to meet us.
He was a man of between fifty and sixty, tall, strong, and unmistakably a seaman; his face baked brick-colour by thirty or forty years' exposure to sea-breeze and sun; his eyes shrewd, intelligent, and those of a man who is conscious of having done his duty, and of being capable of doing it again; and his voice loud, hearty, and as free of affectation as lifelong shouting of orders could make it.
You will come in and sit down a minute? Thank ye. Mr Torrens's death was as sudden as the fall of an iceberg. I saw him that morning, looking as healthy as you or me. Poor Miss Edith! How does she take it, Mr Cecil? Maybe I shouldn't mention it, and you'll excuse me doing it in my rough way, but it's your duty now to look after her as if she was a vessel on her return voyage, with every barrel full. And,' he went on, with a kindly glance at Cecil, 'you'll do it, I'm sure of that.
By this time we had entered the cottage, and passed into the captain's cabin, as he called it—a small, circular room, fitted up as nearly as possible like a ship's cabin. It was full of curiosities: harpoons and firearms of every description, models of the various vessels he had commanded, Esquimaux spears, walrus tusks, relics of Arctic expeditions, and so on. Here, as soon as we were seated, he produced a bottle of Highland whisky and some biscuits from a locker. You shall have my advice, so far as it is worth anything, with the greatest of pleasure.
Thus encouraged, Cecil went on to relate the events of the morning, read the manuscript of the dead man, and finally repeated the substance of the conversation which had ensued. While he was doing so I watched his auditor closely to see what effect it had upon him; but all I saw was that he followed it with the deepest interest, occasionally nodding to himself as if in satisfaction.
Dead men must be obeyed; in honour they've a sort of right to it, over and above the usual parental right in this case. But I don't say it's impossible; the unexpected always turns up in the Arctic, as the saying goes. Sometimes myself I've seen a season commence without any prospect of the ice breaking up, and yet come home full up to the brim.
It's chance, and nothing else. The other time was in the Moray Firth of Peterhead in '71, when I had the record cargo of the season. I've heard it said that you might almost have sailed to the Pole that year; anyway, if I had been my own master, I believe I might have discovered the North-east Passage, instead of this Swedish fellow that has done it since. But a vessel with a special purpose like yours—no! One chance in fifty, I should say; perhaps one in a hundred when the purpose is the Farthest North. But for all that I don't say stay ashore; if you do go, you may manage to catch that very chance.
And if this paper of Mr Torrens's is correct—I don't say it isn't — he reached that point, and why shouldn't another? Point one—he has struck the right season. August and September are the only open months in those seas. Of course I don't know anything of this route, but I've seen something of the Smith's Sound one, and it's impracticable. I knew Dr Kane, one of whose party said he saw the open Polar Sea; and I've met Captain Hall of the Polaris , who died up there; and yet, if you ask any whaler who knows anything about it, you'll hear that an open basin's rank nonsense.
At this point we handed him the detailed lists which had been affixed to the document, and requested him to state what he thought of them. He examined them carefully before answering. And what's more,' he went on, 'I'll take it as the kindest thing you ever did if you'll accept my services in whatever way you please, so that, when you sail, you carry James Sneddon with you. It doesn't matter what as—captain, mate, or seaman—but I mean to go, if you'll have me!
If you don't go, I've mistaken both Miss Edith and yourselves, and you'll regret it all your lives. In this way was our decision arrived at, as it was evident from the beginning would be the case—arrived at honestly, but perhaps with only a vague sense of the responsibility of that decision, the consequences of which none of us foresaw or could even imagine.
Then we went over the principal details with the captain, whose practical knowledge we found to be of immense value. Till then I had had no idea how thoroughly he was master of his profession; but, now that I did know, I made a mental note of it for future use. In the end it was agreed that, after consultation with Edith and Mr Smiles, we should decide as to the best manner of preparing the expedition according to the squire's detailed instructions.
That we did so at once the reader may be certain, and also that Edith was much gratified by the offer, and by the decisive way in which it was made. Before we went farther, however, Cecil suggested that we should have some one to look after the multifarious arrangements that fell to be made—in fact, to be commander of the enterprise for the present; and he was kind enough to mention me as 'the one best fitted for the work of organisation, which, you know,' he said, 'wouldn't suit a fellow of my habits at all.
As Edith backed him up, I could do nothing but accept, and I may only mention here that every one concerned afterwards worked so well together that my leadership in that respect was pretty much of a sinecure. My first step, with the concurrence of Edith and my brother, was to offer Captain Sneddon the command of the vessel to be built or bought.
No better man, I knew, or one with more experience, could be had; and, besides, I wished to be able to avail myself officially of his advice on all points on which he could speak with authority. As I said before, I would have gone with such an expedition as a common hand, and now you offer me the command of the vessel! Well, sir, I accept, and if I can help to make it a success you won't have reason to complain. And one thing I'm sure of, though it may look like a boast, and that is, that you'll have the best vessel and the best crew that money can command—and what can't it?
I'll pick the men myself, and in Dundee or Peterhead there isn't a Greenland sailor who won't ship under James Sneddon; and there isn't one I don't know and can't vouch for! Yes, barring accidents, this voyage'll be a record one. How could it be anything else, with details like those, and plenty of money to carry 'em out? Thus it was that our captain was chosen, and a start thus made with the fulfilment of Randolph Torrens's last request; and as I signed the papers in all due formality, I felt sure that not the least enthusiastic member of the adventurous expedition, of which the history is related in the following pages, would be Captain James Sneddon.
BEFORE the end of April our arrangements were so far completed that a steamer had been bought and fitted up for the special purposes we had in view. The instructions of Randolph Torrens were that a vessel should be built, if one could not be obtained which came up to his requirements; but, fortunately, Captain Sneddon was able to recommend one that fulfilled the conditions.
This was the Aurora of Dundee, one of the whaling- fleet that annually proceeds from that port to Baffin Bay. As she had been specially designed for ice-navigation, she required very little strengthening when she came into our hands. The only considerable alterations we made were to introduce sheets of felt between the inside planking and the lining in order to keep up the temperature should we be compelled to winter in the pack, and to have davits on the quarters for shipping and unshipping the rudder when in danger from the ice.
Naturally, our proceedings did not escape notice in Dundee. But the general opinion there, when it became reported amongst those interested in such matters that Captain Sneddon had bought the Aurora , 'and paid a pretty stiff price for her, too,' was that he intended going on a whaling cruise on his own account. He was so well known as a daring ice-navigator and successful whaler that nobody was surprised thereby. This was as well, seeing that under our orders we could not divulge our real mission; and for the same reason Sneddon, in engaging the hands, had to be somewhat indefinite in his statements.
He had no difficulty, however, in getting together a good crew. Besides the general readiness to ship under him, the offered pay double the ordinary wages, and a bonus of one hundred pounds to each man if we succeeded in our object was such that we could have quadrupled our number of thirty-eight if we had wished. Although we were not to sail until July, all the men were engaged during April, for the reason that if we had not chosen them then they would have gone to the Baffin Bay whaling at the beginning of May.
They were the pick of the fleet, and many were the lamentations of Greenland skippers that year that the best men were not available. Each hand was well known to the captain, and was willing to spend one winter or more in the ice; 'for,' as he said to them, 'I may tell you at once, though in a manner under sealed orders at present, that our voyage won't be an ordinary one. The mystery which otherwise might have surrounded the vessel and its destination was thus partly averted by the captain's adroitness, and partly by the confidence of his men in him.
In other ways I found Captain Sneddon invaluable. There was not a point connected with the vessel to which he did not personally attend, and so thoroughly was he acquainted with all matters pertaining to circumpolar navigation that I felt sure that if we did not succeed it would be through no fault of his. His discretion, as I have indicated, was beyond reproach; and so sure was I that the squire's injunction as to secrecy had been carried out, that I was more than surprised when, one morning at breakfast, I saw in a well-known society paper the following paragraph:.
It is whispered that the late Mr Randolph Torrens of the Grange, Yorkshire, whose death we announced a few weeks ago, has left the large sum of one hundred thousand pounds for the purpose of equipping an expedition to the North Pole. We understand that it is now in preparation, and will shortly start. The result of this enterprise will be awaited with much interest. I wish I knew. I was not long in discovering the culprit.
Having occasion to be over at the Grange that morning, I read the paragraph to Edith and her aunt, and asked if they knew of its author. She said this quite unsuspiciously, but I saw at once she had struck the mark. And, knowing well the elder Miss Torrens's nature and love of gossip, I was not surprised when she replied, somewhat guiltily:. Indeed, I saw no reason for it. I was so much against this mad scheme of throwing away your fortune—a hundred thousand pounds, too!
And that's all I know about it. It was quite clear now, for I knew that Sir Thomas Wyllard, besides being proprietor of the paper in question, was supposed to take also a considerable interest in the editing of it. Luckily for us, a rival journal had a statement on its own responsibility the following day to the effect that 'it had the best authority for announcing that there was no truth in the story,' and, as proof, pointing to the will, in which the Pole was not even mentioned.
What its authority was, I neither know nor care; but, at any rate, the rumour was effectually stopped, for a confidential letter to Sir Thomas Wyllard prevented its recurrence in his paper. Even as it was, we received above a score of offers of service during that one day alone—a warning of what might have been! One effect it had, however, for which we had reason to bless it.
Two days after its appearance, Cecil and I were looking over several reports we had received from Captain Sneddon in reference to the vessel and men, when a servant brought us a card. I recognised the name as that of one of the foremost savants of the day, a man who had a world-wide reputation, and was member of most of the learned societies of Europe. Better still, Cecil, who had studied medicine at a northern university for some time before our father's death, knew him personally as one of the lecturers at Edinburgh.
I saw the other day that he was in for one of the scientific professorships at Edinburgh, and was sure to get it. But show him up, John. In a minute Dr Felix Lorimer entered. He was a man of forty or so, tall and extremely thin, but with a countenance suggestive of much thought and learning, and an equal amount of sagacity not unmixed with enthusiasm.
He wore eye-glasses, behind which his eyes twinkled in an extraordinarily animated manner. He would have made a good physician some day, if he hadn't been spoiled by fortune. Beat me by one vote and by superior influence! And that's why I'm here. Dr Hamilton Nelson is, as all the world is aware, Dr Lorimer's great rival; but what connection that had with us we could not divine.
I shall go with you to the North Pole, and, when I return with my theories verified, I shall annihilate him—rout him bag and baggage!
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He looked as if stupefied for a moment, and then, glancing from one to the other, he continued, quickly and with many gesticulations:. If it is, as it should be, I offer my services as medical officer free, subject, of course, to you, Mr Cecil. I shall conduct all the scientific observations at my own expense, and I shall subscribe five thousand pounds towards the expenses of the expedition.
If that doesn't suit you, I promise to agree to whatever terms you please; for, if an expedition starts, go with it I must! He paused as if waiting for us to speak, and his enthusiasm was so catching that I felt inclined to accept him there and then. But I restrained myself, and instead asked him why he was so anxious to go to the Pole. His theories and mine regarding the Arctic regions are diametrically opposed.
He holds, for instance, that there is an open polar sea, and this although now, since the voyage of the Alert , there isn't a prominent geographer, except an American or two—perhaps not even them—who agrees with him. And what are his reasons? His first and greatest is the migration of such birds as the knot, which goes north every spring, is found still going north by the inhabitants of Greenland and Siberia, and comes south in autumn in increased numbers.
It is admitted by every naturalist that they must breed somewhere around the Pole—in a land at least temporarily milder as regards climate than the known Arctic regions. But that land isn't necessarily washed by an open polar sea, as he contends, and as I deny. In the second place, he says that as the point of greatest cold is several degrees from the Pole, so the Pole is as likely to have an open sea as any given point south of that point of greatest cold. Now, what I contend, and mean to prove, is that the ice-cap extends over the whole circumpolar region.
Open lanes may, I admit, be met with occasionally; winds and currents may produce that temporary effect; but that a permanent open and navigable basin exists is to the highest degree improbable. More: it is absolutely impossible, owing amongst other causes to the configuration of the Arctic Ocean, and to the nature and insufficiency of the channels by which the congestion of the accumulated ice might be relieved.
In fact, the whole theory is as plainly a chimera as Raleigh's El Dorado. Then, Hamilton Nelson and ethnology aside, look at what results one may attain, what discoveries one may make in geography, in hydrography, in meteorology, in geology, in zoology, in botany, in geodesy, and in many kindred sciences! And I have no hesitation in saying that an expedition which starts without some one trained to take these valuable observations carefully and exactly, deserves the severest reprobation of the civilised world. This very matter of a scientific observer had troubled me not a little; and now that it had been brought home to me in such a forcible manner, I could not but see that our visitor was right.
But if you care to stay with us over night, we'll consult the lady we're responsible to, and let you have an answer by to-morrow morning at the latest. Cecil, in the meantime, rode over to the Grange to lay his proposal before Edith. Surely we've enough of our own; and perhaps he hasn't too much'—. And, mind, give him no concession whatever except the choice of a cabin and the liberty to fit it up as he likes.
After dinner that evening, therefore, I made the doctor the offer suggested by Edith, and after considerable demur he accepted it, though it was with reluctance that he relinquished the idea of contributing towards the expenses. And you may be sure, Mr Oliphant, that the scientific fittings of this cabin I'm to get will be no disgrace either to the expedition or to the cause in which we shall be engaged. The doctor bowed; and, now that he was in reality a member of our party, I told him the whole story from beginning to end impressing upon him, of course, the necessity of secrecy , and how far our arrangements were completed.
Henceforth, if Mr Cecil will allow it, she has a fervent admirer in Felix Lorimer. My friends, I have a belief that we shall fathom both this mystery and the great and hitherto unconquered mystery of the Pole; and I only wish we were on board the Aurora , and on our way to Franz-Josef Land. So we go to Dundee to inspect her before bringing her round to London to fit her up and provision her, and if you care to accompany us you can enter into possession of your cabin at once.
So on the following day we journeyed to Dundee in company, and found that everything necessary to equip the Aurora for her fight with the ice had been done. As the doctor enthusiastically remarked, she was absolutely perfect. The cabin he chose was one of three opening from the mess-room, the other two being occupied by my brother and myself.
It is unnecessary to say that our savant made immediate preparations to utilise his space to the best advantage; and, at least a week before the vessel sailed, the little room was completely fitted up with everything needful in the way of instruments, books, and medicine-chests.
Captain Sneddon had, we found, engaged as chief mate an officer of the name of Norris, who had sailed under him for many years, and who was thoroughly capable of taking command in case of need. A second mate he had not yet obtained. Two engineers, Green first and Clements second , with two stokers, had also been engaged, as also a boatswain, Murray, and the full crew. Immediately on the arrival of the Aurora in the Thames, the work of loading her was begun.
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Her bunkers, enlarged for the purpose, were filled to the brim with coal, and the precious fuel was also stowed away wherever room could be found for it. Provisions of every kind, from the salted and preserved meat and the pemmican down to the tea, coffee, and cocoa, were daily received and packed systematically below under the captain's personal superintendence.
Nothing likely to preserve health was neglected. Antiscorbutic preparations, such as lime and cranberry juice, cloudberries, pickles, horse-radishes, mustard-seed, etc. In addition, we had a large stock of dynamite and gunpowder, the most approved blasting and sawing apparatus, and sufficient firearms and ammunition to serve for many years. Nor were the means of recreation forgotten. Besides a piano, the doctor's violin, and various musical instruments belonging to the men, a magic-lantern and several games were sent on board, and by means of a well-selected library of two thousand volumes we hoped during the long winter days and nights to keep at bay the demon of ennui.
Our boats, built at Dundee, included a mahogany whaleboat, with swivel harpoon-gun, two smaller ones, two light ice-canoes, convertible into sledges, and several india-rubber Halkett boats. We had also six M'Lintock sledges. But our speciality was the steam-launch Randolph Torrens , built specially to our order by an eminent firm of Clyde engineers.
It was of fifteen horse-power, and was adapted for consuming chemically-prepared alcohol instead of coal. The advantage of this the idea being the doctor's was that we could carry about with us a larger amount of fuel, and thus make more extended voyages. The launch was a complete success, and was afterwards of the greatest service to us. While these preparations were going on, Edith found relief for her mind by continually dragging her aunt up to London to examine our progress. The elder Miss Torrens naturally objected, but, in spite of her protests, not a week passed without a visit from the fair owner of the vessel, for whom the men soon had a warm admiration.
But at last, on the 10th of July, everything was done, and the Aurora ready for her cruise to the Northern Seas. AT three o'clock on the afternoon of the 12th of July, the Aurora cast off from the jetty, and dropped into the centre of the stream. All arrangements necessary in view of a lengthened absence from England had been made, not only respecting our personal affairs, but also with regard to the safety of the expedition. Should nothing be heard of us for two years, a relief vessel was to be despatched after the second winter; and, to facilitate her inquiries, we were to leave records in prominent places mutually agreed upon.
But as it might be impossible to carry out this agreement completely, we promised to take every opportunity of sending home notices of our progress and future prospects by means of such whalers and fishing-vessels as we met. We had bidden farewell to the many friends who, if uncertain of our destination, had yet no hesitation in wishing us good- fortune and a safe return; and Cecil, on his part, had seen the last of Edith for many months to come. Edith, her aunt, Mr Smiles, and a few friends of the officers and men, had come down to see us off, and to wish us the best of luck in the discoveries we hoped to make.
How reluctantly the final partings were taken, it is needless to say; but at length the hawsers were cast off, and, after a last embrace and cordial hand-shake, the visitors were put on shore amidst the hearty cheering of the men. Slowly the vessel lengthened the distance between her and the shore; in a minute or two we could not see the fluttering handkerchiefs for the intervening shipping; and then, gently and tardily, as if she were reluctant to leave, the Aurora passed through the dock gates and into the Thames.
Before evening we were cleaving the waters of the German Ocean on our northward way, and our voyage towards the Pole had begun. It would have been difficult to analyse the feelings of most of us that night, as we assembled round the mess-room table for the first time. Here we were, bound on a mission in which the dangers and uncertainties were far out of proportion to the safety, and in which the chances of return were at least as much against us as in our favour.
But if there were any for whom that fact was not the greater inducement, we failed to discover them. It was the captain's idea to take the officers into our confidence as soon as we were at sea, for the reason that if any of them did not care for the voyage they could be set ashore when we touched at Peterhead, as we meant to do to allow the men, most of whose homes were there, to say farewell to their families. So the Aurora, for the time, was given into the charge of Murray, the boatswain, and the conference began.
One of the eight present was the second mate, George Wemyss, who had been engaged at the last moment. He was an old schoolfellow of ours and an ex- naval officer, who had sent in his papers owing to some quarrel with a superior; and as he had had experience in Arctic work, and was besides a good officer, we were fortunate in having secured him. I fully explained the origin and purposes of the expedition, not forgetting to mention the probable difficulty of carrying them out, and finally asked each to give his candid opinion of our mission.
It lay with themselves, I said, to go or to stay at home; but if they decided to go, we expected that they would honestly and faithfully do their duty. For he, too, had been seized by the fascination which our vessel seemed to exercise over every one who had any connection with her. Norris and Green also signified their approval of our plans, and their willingness to go on with us, though it was more soberly and with less ostentatious enthusiasm than their juniors.
Glasses having been emptied to this toast, we went on deck, glad that we had come to an understanding which promised so well for the future. On the evening of the 14th the Aurora steamed into the harbour of Peterhead, having made an exceptionally quick passage, and proved her sea qualities to be of the highest order. Most of the hands went on shore at once, but were ordered to return the first thing in the morning, that we might take advantage of the forenoon tide.
Several letters that had arrived for us were brought on board, and one received by the captain appeared to contain unpleasant or unwelcome news. After reading it several times, and scratching his head as if deeply perplexed, he signed to Cecil and me and Dr Lorimer to follow him into his cabin.