Scott of the Antarctic by David Crane; Journals: Captain Scott’s Last Expedition by Max Jones (ed) - review by Fergus Fleming

Fergus Fleming

The World’s Most Famous Failure

Scott of the Antarctic

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HarperCollins 637pp £25 order from our bookshop

Journals: Captain Scott’s Last Expedition

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Oxford University Press 529pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

Is there no end to Scott? People have been banging on about him for ages. Was he a great man? Was he a stupid man? Imperial martyr or unimaginative martinet? Victim of freak weather conditions or agent of his own downfall? Back and forth the arguments have gone, hagiographers and revisionists taking their turn at the literary howitzer, to a point where we are almost deafened by the crump of exploding theories. No Antarctic explorer, not even Shackleton (and that’s saying something), has attracted so much attention. One would expect, by now, that a certain amount of battle fatigue might have set in. But no. Back to your dugouts for here comes another bombardment.

David Crane’s Scott of the Antarctic is puffed as the definitive biography of Scott and at more than 600 pages one is inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt. This is a hefty tome, exhaustively researched, which covers every aspect not only of Scott’s life but of anything

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