LongbeforeAdmiralByrd＇s well-publicizedexpeditions and the race to the
SouthPole by Scott and Amundsen, other, now long-forgottenexplorers, adventurers
and ordinarysealhuntersmade or tried to maketheir way to Antarctica. Today,
scientistsregularlybivouac for months on end in the vastfrozenwastes of
Antarctica, and adventuroustravelers can evenfindtours to takethem to the bottom
of the world. But it was not so long ago that a voyage to the SouthPole was a
perilousundertaking, one thatrequiredtremendouscourage, stamina, and skill.
Beforeexplorersactually saw thisfrozencontinent, its existence was posited by
geographers, though 18th-centuryseafarersventured no furtherthan the ring of cold
air and icy water, the AntarcticConvergence, whichsurrounded it. The discovery and
exploitation of Antarctica is the subject of AlanGurney＇s book, Below the
Gurney, a Scotsyachtdesigner and photographer, tells the story of somedozen
of those men, beginningwith the astronomerHalley (of cometfame) in 1699 and
finisheswith an 1839 whaling/sealingship— the ElizaScott— whosecrewdiscoveredbouldersimbedded in Antarctic ice, a geologicalmysterythatcaughtDarwin＇s
interest. But to mentiononly the detailedaccounts of thesevoyages— and they are
verydetailed— fails to give a sense of the treasure-trovequality of thisunusualbook. Along the way are interestingdiscussions of the history of astronomy,
geography, navigation (especially the problems of working out correctlongitude),
cartography and ornithology (how the penguin got its name), diet (the problem of
scurvy) and the economics of the whale-oil trade. And how many of us haveseriouslyconsidered the question “Is thereindeed a ｀SouthernOcean＇ below the Pacific?＂
Gurney＇s somewhatdoggedinterest in describingexactlywhichroutesvariousshipstook to get fromhere to there is morethanmade up for by his curiosityaboutwhattheyencounteredalong the way. Thisbook, written for serioussailors, shouldentertainanyonecuriousabouthistory＇s backwater.
【題組】50Whatdoes “history＇s backwater＂ in the lastparagraphrefer to?
(A) Antarctica (B) AlanGurney＇s book (C) Wateraround the SouthPole (D) The history of Gurney＇s journeys