I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination

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St. Martin's Press, 1996 - History - 372 pages
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I May Be Some Time is a richly engrossing cultural history of the human obsession with ice, Eskimos, and polar exploration. When Captain Scott died on his way back from the South Pole, history became a myth embedded in both the public and private imagination. People still remember the last words of one of the party's doomed explorers as he stepped from the tent, never to be seen again - "I'm just going outside and I may be some time." Conventional histories of polar exploration trace the laborious expeditions across the map, dwelling on the proper techniques of ice-navigation and sled-travel, but rarely has a writer asked what the explorers thought they were doing, or why they did these seemingly insane things. Francis Spufford reveals an extraordinary history of feeling buttressed by the call of vast empty spaces and the beauty of untrodden snow, as he places together the elements of a myth that still has the power to seduce. Drawing on diaries, letters, the works of Bronte, Keats, and others, I May Be Some Time is about the poles as they have been perceived, dreamed, even desired. It explores myth as myth, showing how Scott's death was the culmination of a long-running international enchantment with perilous expeditions to the ends of the earth.

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I MAY BE SOME TIME: Ice and the English Imagination

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Spufford, of the Guardian in London, plumbs the cultural fascination and aesthetic attraction of cold regions for British explorers, and how their romance with snow was fashioned by an evolving ... Read full review

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User Review  - pouleroulante - LibraryThing

A great book as it addresses the appeal of the poles rather than how many fingers were lost from frostbite Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Francis Spufford, hailed as a member of Britain's new literary generation, has edited two acclaimed anthologies The Chatto Book of Cabbages and Kings: Lists in Literature and The Chatto Book of The Devil.

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