After writing two highly praised travel books, Sara Wheeler was accepted by the American government to be the first foreigner on their National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists' and Writers Program. She spent seven months on the continent, travelling from the fabled Ross Ice Shelf to the Pole itself, the remoter reaches of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and the balmy Antarctic Peninsula. Terra Incognita is a meditation on the landscape, myths and history of one of the remotest parts of the globe, as well as an encounter with the international temporary residents of the region - living in close confinement despite the surrounding acres of white space - and the mechanics of day-to-day life in extraordinary conditions. Through Sara Wheeler, the Antarctic is revealed, in all its seductive mystery.
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(198mm x 129mm x 23mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Sara Wheeler first saw the Antarctic from the southernmost tip of Chile, while travelling the length and breadth of that country for a book she was writing. She knew then that she would return to a place which already seemed like home. A polar desert, the Antarctic is the province of scientific expeditions staffed by oddballs and mavericks who feel more at home on the ice than anywhere else in the world, but more than that, it has, over the years, come to serve as a metaphor for an inner journey into the depths of the soul. Fired by the exploits of Scott and Amundsen, Shackleton and Cherry-Garrard, people have gone to the wild places of the earth to meet themselves face to face, and Sara Wheeler was no exception. Having got herself onto US Antarctic Writers' and artists' Program, the first foreigner to do so, she prepared herself for the rigours of life at the bottom of the world with a mixture of research and polar training. Her book in turn reflects this; her love of the subject is obvious, particularly her writing about those who travelled ahead of her. She writes movingly of visiting Scott's hut and other important Antarctic monuments. What is perhaps a disappointment at times is the banality of life on the ice. For every moment of mystic communion on the ice, there are many hours of surprisingly ordinary incident in a most extraordinary place. As Wheeler acknowledges, those who live in the Antarctic must devise a hundred ways of getting along with one another but somehow one senses that Wheeler never really gets to grips with the modern Antarctic experience, and to some extent, as a visiting writer rather than a participating researcher, how can she ever hope to? Nevertheless, this is a fascinating account of daily life in the last great wilderness. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Sara Wheeler
Traveller, journalist and broadcaster Sara Wheeler has been described by the literary critic Jeremy Lewis as 'a marvellous writer - funny, elegant and observant... the next Eric Newby.' She read Classics and Modern Languages at Oxford. Her Antarctic journey was sponsored by the American National Science Foundation and the British Antarctic Survey. Her previous travel books are An Island Apart and Travels in a Thin Country. The latter was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book of the Year Award.