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Terrors of Ice and Darkness: A Novel [Hardcover]

Christoph Ransmayr


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In 1981 a young Italian becomes obsessed with reports of the 1873 Payer-Weyprecht, Austro-Hungarian expedition to the North Pole, deciding to duplicate the adventure. This novel tells the story of the original expedition and, in a parallel narrative, describes Josef's imaginery journey. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Josef Mazzini often traveled alone and mostly on foot. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read 28 Sep 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a very satisfying book... the author has interwoven the story of a 19th century arctic expedition with the modern-day mystery of a man obsessed with the "terrors of ice and darkness." The descriptions of the vast and desolate arctic landscapes are lyrical and moving; after an hour of reading, you may feel so pulled into this world of darkness and ice it is difficult to return ! A must read for any arctic history buff...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written and organized but oddly unfinished 16 Oct 2008
By James J. Bloom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For me, this book is a lively substitute for reading the full journals of the two commanders of the 1872-74 Austro-Hungarian expedition. Liberally cited and carefully chosen, contextualized excerpts convey the full drama and horrors of the 1872 voyage. The three levels of narrative (the narrator/Mazzini researcher, Mazzini, and the 19th century explorers) are well blended and less troublesome than they may seem to follow. I was hoping to find more clues for the mysterious disappearance of Mazzini than I found. It seems quite odd that the novelist didn't simply have him jump ship at the northern extremity of the voyage rather than bring him back to Spitzbergen. All-in-all, though this is a gripping novel and brought home the incredible endurance and steel nerves required of such expeditions before the age of comfortable icebreaking expedition ships, helicopters and snow-skidded aircraft.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ausgezeichnet 1 Jun 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Kirkus review does not do this book justice. It is quite good, especially for fans of historically accurate novels.
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner 15 Mar 2012
By Eco-student - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My Uncle gave me a copy of this book more than a decade ago and I still remember how much I enjoyed this intricate and intense story. I normally don't read "dark" books, but I could not put this book down. The ship voyage details and the story of survival and bravery were very facinating. It is such a good book that I keep it in my pemanent library of books I do not lend-out and I let only house guests borrow.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The product of library research 20 Jan 2008
By James Elkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This will be a short review: I just want to register that despite Ransmayr's reputation, his skill with narrative and temporality, and the heartbreaking real-life details of the Weyprecht Expedition (including a chilling scene in which a beloved sled dog, whose dead body had been dropped into a hole in the ice, resurfaces months later), this reads like the work of an academic historian. It is replete with well-researched detail, and its narrative is comfortable and warm, as if it were conceived and written in an archive. The book is often sublime, but it is a comfortable, late twilight sublime, the kind I also feel when I watch the midnight sun in a movie. Even when things get desperate, I am cushioned and comforted by Ransmayr's impeccable scholarship. As in Borges, even outlandish things are tamed by footnotes.

In the domain of arctic tragedies, this novel is outdone on every level -- narrative, fact, experience, force -- by William Vollmann's "The Rifles."
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