Research Blog Antarctica #11 – 14

Things’ve been piling up, and this time we’re further away from Antarctica than ever. First there’s an Antarctica movie, though:

Documentary film: George Butler: the Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition (Sweden, U.K., Germany, U.S.A., 2000)

I was very happy to see the movie because it features a large amount of Antarctic footage, including archival material shot by Frank Hurley himself during Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition. It was a joy to see all the things that I’ve only read about come to life.
For those who are not so easily charmed by Antarctic things I have to say that the movie is basically a hagiography with very little in terms of dramatic tension. Maybe the story works better if you don’t know it beforehand, but still, detail was sparse and surface ruled over everything.

The rest of the batch consists of books I read because I became convinced that my novel would benefit from a more essay-like style when talking about some of the aspects of Antarctic life. I wanted to be able to write about Antarctic literature itself and was looking for ways to do the meta thing in an elegant fashion. I got started when I read Sven Linqvist’s sublime Aavikkosukeltajat, and got more ideas from Michel Houellebecq’s beautiful fan letter, H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, originally written in 1991, when Lovecraft was still uncool.
However wonderful they might have been, I felt I needed to read more than two books to see how its done. Fortunately, some had accumulated in my bookshelf.

Non-fiction: Jukka Koskelainen: Atlantiksen perintö – kirjailijoiden uusi alku (Tammi, 2000)

A collection of essays about writers in two parts, the first dealing with Mexico and the second with Germany. Engaging, systematic, and interesting in reverse proportion to how much I knew about the individual writers beforehand. Maybe if this was a book about something I was interested in already, it would seem better.

Non-fiction: Jari Ehrnrooth: Intiaaniunta (WSOY, 2000)

A semi-fictional essay about the life and works of Dante. Interesting and pleasantly short. For some reason I had a preconception that the writer was a Christian, and some of the early material in the book seemed to support this, but later on it became apparent that this was not the case.

Non-fiction: Tom Sandqvist: Rajamailla (Taide, 1990)

An overlong essay about various artists living in and around New York in 1910. The translation from the Swedish original is decidedly dodgy and the book becomes downright tiresome when the author veers off into psychoanalysis. The rest of the high brow stuff and the biographical material is interesting, though.

I think I’ll go back to books about Antarctica itself. This essay stuff is very tiring.

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