The Worst Journey in the World by Aspley Cherry-Garrard
“If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long
as all you want is a penguin’s egg.” This tragic book is nearly universally acknowledged as one of the classics of adventure writing, definitely considered the unparalleled apex of polar exploration, and certainly does not need my approbation. Aspley Cherry-Garrard’s writing style beautifully brings both the singular characters and the Antarctic environment to life. In fact, this perfectly controlled story of a disaster approaches not just great travel writing, but great literature.
Cherry-Garrard makes us feel the unfathomable cold of the polar winter, as well as the lengths humans go for the smallest of gains. But he also tells a gripping tale, an easy thing to do with a triumph, but not with a disaster.
In a way, this book reads a lot like Moby Dick - both detailed and realistic, giving total access to Captain Scott’s failed expedition. But it also plumbs the icy depths of the polar sea for meaning and awareness. Aspley Cherry-Garrard is a man who has done what all travelers hope to - live through an extraordinary adventure and not only survive, but understand it.
First published in Hackwriters: The International Writers Journal.