Leningrad: Vses. arktich. in-t, 1934. Item #1158
392 pp., 1 map: ill. 13.8x20.4 cm. In original publisher’s cloth binding with lettering on the front board and the spine. Near fine.
Scarce. Second extended edition. First edition published in 1917. Translated from original English by the Russian and American writer Zinaida Ragozina (1835/1838-1924).
First Soviet edition of the tragic diaries written by one of the most famous arctic explorers in British history, Robert Scott (1868-1912).
The beginning of the 20th century witnessed a full-scale competition between multiple countries to conquer Antarctica. In an effort to reach the destination first, numerous explorers organized expeditions to the South Pole either with their own finances or with the help of the government. Yet, none of the endeavors turned out to be as tragic as Robert Scott’s failed journey to Antarctica in the early-1910s.
The whaling ship Terra Nova left Cardiff, Wales in June 1910 and the expedition, under the leadership of the noted Royal Navy officer Robert Scott, set off from base the following October with mechanical sledges, ponies, and dogs. The expedition suffered a series of early misfortunes: on its journey from New Zealand to the Antarctic, Terra Nova nearly sank in a storm and was trapped in pack ice for 20 days. Shortly, the captain realised that the sledges, ponies, and dog teams could not cope with the conditions and the expedition carried on without them. On January 17, 1912, through appalling weather and increasingly tough terrain, Scott and four of his companions (Wilson, Oates, Bowers, and Evans) finally reached the pole. Yet, the team found out that their rivals, a Norwegian party led by Roald Amundsen, had preceded them by five weeks. Disappointed, the expedition started its journey back. Edgar Evans and Oates, who suffered from a fatal concussion and severe frostbite, died in February and March, respectively. The remaining three men, including Scott himself, died of starvation and exposure in the tent on 29 March 1912, only 11 miles from the next supply depot. Eight months later, a search party found the tent, the bodies and Scott’s diary, with the last words being: For God’s sake, look after our people.
Captain Scott’s harrowing account of the expedition to the South Pole was first published in 1913 under the title Scott’s Last Expedition. Four years later, Zinaida Ragozina printed the Russian translation of the work with the extended version coming out in 1934.
The diary offers a unique first-hand account of the tragic expedition, from the optimistic departure from New Zealand to the first disappointments and last days in Antarctica. Scott’s personal narrative records the team’s daily progress towards their final goal, as well as his impressions of the harsh conditions, the beauty of the tundra, increasingly desperate ambitions to beat the rivals to the Pole (Well, we have turned our back now on the goal of our ambition and must face our 800 miles of solid dragging - and good-bye to most of the day-dreams!), and the pain of losing friends (Lost track of dates, but think the last correct. Tragedy all along the line...). The diary vividly documents a change from Scott’s enthusiasm to disdain (Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions, which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman) and revives a story that happened more than a century ago.
The edition includes black and white illustrations depicting the whaling ship, Mount Erebus, Scott and his 4 companions, etc. The book also features a map of the expedition route, Scott’s farewell letters to his friends and relatives, and Edward Atkinson’s account on the discovery of the dead bodies.
Worldcat shows a copy of the edition at New York Public Library.