“Terra Incognita” – Sara Wheeler
Random House, 1996
Under the Covers…
Terra Incognita, Latin for “Unknown Land” documents the months spent on the great white continent by English travel author Sara Wheeler.
Spent at a myriad of locations and temperature extremes (at times a sultry 10 degrees, others, a frigid 40 below), the experiences contrast parallel with the accents of her hosts (predominantly the Americans, but for a time, the English, and also the New Zealand contingent)
What I liked and what I didn’t…
For those who’ve paid any heed to what I’ve written, you may already be aware that Antarctica is a dream destination of mine, so the subject matter is the first obvious appeal.
Sara writes of the place with respect, humour, and importantly, from a non scientific perspective making it easy for her to convey the grandeur and scale of the place.
A touch that I really enjoyed was the manner in which she introduced both tragic and heroic tales from Antarctica’s hostile past (from all eras of the continents exploration, not just your Shackleton’s, Scott’s & Amundsen’s)
The only real detraction I found throughout the whole read (and this is purely personal), was the occasional religious tangent she took her thoughts on. These meanderings were honestly, a little too cringe-worthy for me.
Another fine addition would have been a selection of some photos from the spectacular sounding places she saw, that few tourists will ever witness.
This would have greatly enhanced the wonder, when the written superlatives had been exhausted.
Should you give this a read..?
My few criticisms aside, I really did enjoy this book (I’m tempted to give her book on Arctic travels a read as well).
There is appeal here for not only the travel buff, but also the historian, as Sara really does illustrate a vast array of knowledge on the continents heroic past.