File Size: 2408 KB
Print Length: 308 pages
Publisher: Penguin (February 23, 2006)
Publication Date: February 23, 2006
An exciting adventure for all those seeking a new and various journey. A journey you will never overlook.!, Very well written and interesting book. We are traveling the coming year to the arctic therefore the contend was very important for all of us., I couldn't finish this. I lost interest in Iceland., Kavenna searches for the legendary land of Thule, first described by a 4th-century BC Greek explorer, who claimed that it lay six days to the north of Scotland. She comes after the routes of previous explorers such as Fridtjof Nansen and Richard Burton and visits the Shetland Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Svalbarg, among others. Kavenna is exploring a number of matters, including the Nazis (who viewed Thule as a lost Aryan homeland), the Cold War (the United States maintains an airbase in Greenland called Thule), and man’s impact on the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic. The book includes some beautiful descriptions of the harsh landscape as well as conveying the author’s love of these northern lands. Unfortunately, there are no pictures and so the reader has to rely on Kavenna’s long, sometimes convoluted descriptions. Very well written but somewhat dense in spots., I was very excited once I came across a book on the legendary Thule! Unfortunately this was like the opening of Al Capone's " vault". No " winnings" to actually finding Thule. Her descriptions of folks and locations do paint wonderful pictures but as long as you have visited places like Iceland and Norway (which I have). There are some great personal accounts but In the end I was very disappointed. Anticlimactic., To the ancients Thule was considered a lost icy Eden of odd beauty, fueling the creativeness of poets, explorers and after this writer Joanna Kavenna, whose journey in search of the legendary Thule is documented in THE ICE MUSEUM: IN SEARCH OF THE PARTICULAR LOST LAND OF THULE. Kavenna's journey brought the girl in touch with others under the same spell, from past evidence of prior seekers to contemporaries. Her journey also uncovered a host of frozen relics of the cold war - and it reads with the 'you are there' drama of a diary and an researched research piece. Any interested in true adventure will see the girl odyssey hard to deposit.
Diane C. Donovan
Los angeles Bookwatch, I'll admit I was resistant to this book at first - I guess I expected a more scholarly, weighty approach, somewhat than Kavenna's very personal picaresque - but she won me over quickly with her elegant, lyric prose, her disarming, understated persona, and her expert blending of travel narrative and history of ideas, literature and exploration. The lady commences by going to all the places which may have been considered possible locations of Thule, the Shetland Islands, Iceland, Norway, Estonia, advancing northward, capturing what she views as she smoothly explicates what other travelers have said about those places as Thule, and also examining the turbulent great Arctic exploration at large.
In my experience, the strongest segment of the book is when Kavenna grapples with the most hateful mannifestation of the Thule ideal - its expropriation by the Nazis as pristine mythico-historical homeland where white Aryan purity reigned. Typically the Thule Society was one of many esoteric/political organizations that prospered in Europe, and one of the handful that served as an early focus and gathering place for what was going to become the Nazi party. This confluence of modernist and fascist elements is as troubling as it is seemingly inevitable, and Kavenna approaches this treacherous area with the proper measure of fascination and abhorrence.
Although Kavenna is very astute in her explication of the Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun's big botch, his championing of the Germans, her brief precis of his work is the one place where I found Ice Museum demonstrably off the mark:
"He became nostalgic and impatient; he or she lurched away from the city, writing nothing but rustic friendships laced with sentimentality, tales of robust hunting men of few words, awkward in elegant company, chasing after the daughters of the local merchants through the lively forests. They lived in huts like mine, they wore big boots, they knew nothing of manners and conventions; they were tormented brutes, aware that society judged them. They were good a whittling wood, and occasionally large frustration at their failing to ensnare a local beauty led them to a melodramatic act. One of the rustic hut-dwellers shot himself in the foot one morning because the beautiful daughter of the local businessman wouldn't talk to him. "
It can hard to believe Kavenna is old enough to have actually read the books and then forgotten so much about them. All those who have looked at Baking pan, the book she recommendations, knows that it was in fact an early work and that their protagonist/narrator Lieutenant Glahn is no child of the land but, obviously an ex-army officer, signifies social status, an extremely educated and articulate gentleman who chooses to reside in a hut out of love of nature and a rejection of human society. And to say he shoots himself in the feet because Edvarda won't talk to him is legal reductionism. Even August the old wandering protagonist of several of Hamsun's later works, although he works odd jobs and pinus radiata over various beautiful daughters, is not an inarticulate brute, but an fall out from civilization, intent on living a life without ambition. There are some books like Growth of the Soil which revolve around plain folk without the addition of a neurotic dreamer nonetheless they are extremely few, and Hamsun never loses the complexity of his eyesight.
I only wish she had at least looked at Hamsun again before she wrote those words, but the "brute" idea fits so neatly with her arguments about the lure of fascism that she no doubt wanted it to be true. One other sad thing is that so few people are familiar with Hamsun that no editor called her on it before publication and thus few people will know that it is utter bunk.
BUT otherwise I enjoyed the book. I worried as I neared the end because, like most picaresques, there's no natural ending that isn't an anti-climax. In contrast to William Broad's The Oracle, Kavenna isn't going to "solve the mystery. inches But she accomplishes drawing a line under elegantly, describing her visit to this island then of Svalbard, a place nobody thought was Thule, but which is icy and cold enough to be truly Thulean. Here she locates scientists charting the environment changes which have already meant great changes to the arctic regions and may yet be the end of Thule, if not all of mankind.
Throughout Kavenna is able to give a provocative depth to her breezy travel narrative, and I highly recommend this an entertaining, informative read - exquisite for the coming winter.
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