I may be some time : ice and the English imagination

by Francis Spufford

Hardcover, 1997




New York : St. Martin's Press, 1997.


I May Be Some Time is a richly engrossing cultural history of our obsession with ice, Eskimos and polar exploration. When Captain Scott died in 1912 on his way back from the South Pole, his story became a myth embedded in the national imagination. Despite wars and social change, despite recent debunking, it is still there. Everyone remembers the doomed explorers' last words - 'I'm just going outside, and I may be some time' - and history is what you can remember. Conventional histories of polar exploration trace the laborious expeditions across the map, dwelling on the proper techniques of ice-navigation and sledge-travel. But we rarely ask what the explorers thought they were doing, or why they did these insane things. I May Be Some Time is about the poles as they have been perceived, dreamed, even desired. It explores the myth as myth, showing how Scott's death was the culmination to a long-running national enchantment with perilous journeys to the ends of the earth. 'The thrills of desolation, of icy beauty, of challenge, of human courage, of comradeship . . . I May Be Some Time is a truly majestic work of scholarship, thought and literary imagination.' Jan Morris, The Times… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member pouleroulante
A great book as it addresses the appeal of the poles rather than how many fingers were lost from frostbite
LibraryThing member planetmut
Bored me to tears; I could barely get past the second chapter before giving up.



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