Exploring The Waste Land
A miscellaneous page linked from The Waste Land, Part V, line 360

Ernest Shackleton
Line 360

One of the most outstanding books I have ever read was Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. I've enjoyed it as a youth and I've enjoyed it as an adult. Other readers agree with me. At the Amazon.com site there are an incredible 140 or so reviews of the book and it is difficult to find one where the book is not rated at 5 stars.

Lansing's book is an account of the expedition that Sir Ernest Shackleton wrote about in his book South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage, (the work that T. S. Eliot refers to in his note for line 360 of The Waste Land). South is still in print after some 80 years. While I have not read the book myself one reviewer at amazon.com has written:

Lansing's narrative is also more engaging than personal accounts written by the protagonists themselves (Shackleton's "South" and Worsley's "Shackleton's Boat Journey") because their very acts of heroism are modestly downplayed in the first person.

Beaten to the South Pole by Admunsen, in 1914 Ernest Shackleton set out on an expedition to be the first to cross the Antartic continent. His ship, the wooden icebreaker Endurance, eventually became trapped in ice in January, 1915 and remained so for months until it sank in November, 1915. The men camped on the ice waiting to drift closer to land but after a month the ice started to disintegrate under them. Shackleton and his 27 men then dragged two 20 foot lifeboats and floated on ice floes for months more before reaching the open sea and setting off in the boats to uninhabited Elephant Island finally reaching it in mid-April, 1916.

While most of the men set up a camp on the island Shackleton and a handful of his men then sail for South Georgia Island some 800 miles away in one of the life boats fixed with a canvas cover. Sailing for 14 days in the world's most frigid and wildest ocean, constantly wet, navigating with celestial readings performed during the few breaks in the stormy skies, they finally reached the island. The whaling station they were trying to reach was on the other side though, a distance of 17 miles. Shackleton and two men then crossed the island despite having to traverse an unmapped range of 10,000 foot mountains covered with glaciers. This was done with makeshift mountaining gear and clothing that was rotting off their bodies.

With the world still at war, much to their amazement, it took Shackleton weeks and four tries to get a ship to Elephant Island to rescue his comrades. He finally succeeded on August 30, 1916. The other members of his expedition had had to remain on the island for 105 days. Despite being shipwrecked in Antartica for over 19 months all were rescued. This incident showcased an exordinary case of leadership on Shackleton's part and the finest display of courage and perservence by all.

You'll never regret reading Lansing's book but for the lazy I've read that a movie version of "South" is in the works.

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T 111 - Shackleton, Sir Ernest

Exploring The Waste Land
File name: mq360.html
File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002
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