T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
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'Nothing in our time has touched the whole nation so instantly and so deeply as the loss of these men,’ reported the Manchester Guardian in 1913, after the tragic end of Captain Robert Scott’s expedition to the South Pole. Scott’s team was beaten to the Pole by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian team and he died just 11 miles from his relief depot, but the tale of endurance and self-sacrifice recorded in his journal remains a testament to the heroism of his enterprise.
From the first days of the great expedition right up to Scott’s final, anguished scrawl – ‘for God’s sake look after our people’ – the journal, found on his body eight months after his death, retains the power to move us. Who can forget Captain Oates’ walk to his death in the snow (‘I am just going outside and may be some time’), or Scott’s quiet acceptance of defeat when he discovers the Norwegians have reached the Pole first (‘All the day dreams must go; it will be a wearisome return’). Scott’s character emerges strongly in frequent flashes of humour and in his sensitivity to the beauty of the Antarctic landscape. Most absorbing, however, is his honest expression of his hopes and frustrations. Setting out on the southern journey, he exclaims, ‘I can think of nothing left undone to deserve success’; but trapped by a blizzard, he writes ‘Miserable, utterly miserable. We have camped in the "Slough of Despond".’
This Folio Society publication of the complete journal contains several appendices including J. M. Barrie’s introduction from the 1914 edition, the expedition doctor’s account of finding the bodies and Scott’s final letters. Over 80 photographs have been selected from sources including the Scott Polar Research Institute and the Royal Geographical Society; they provide a remarkably poignant accompaniment. No matter how many biographies are written or films are made of the story, nothing can match Scott’s own epic, elegiac account.