Friday, August 19, 2016

The Undiscovered Exhibit Part II

Image of "An interview with an Emperor" One of the frustrations of an exhibit, at least a physical one, is that you can only show one opening in a book. Some books deserve so much more, so here we have captions and images selected by the "Pole to Pole" class from books actually in the physical exhibit but hidden by other page openings. This is the second installment of the "Exhibit that Wasn't."

Within Antarctic Days: Sketches of the Homely Side of Polar Life by Two of Shackleton's Men, is the image “An Interview with an Emperor” sketched by crew member George Marston. It provides compelling insight to the deteriorating level of sanity felt by the crew of the Nimrod expedition. The anthropomorphizing of a penguin and outlining an impossible happenstance in which the penguin confronts the men and boldly commands them to leave his property, illustrates a weak state of mind prone to illusions and day dreams. Navigating the difficulties of coping with isolation during the Nimrod expedition became a very real and almost impossible task. This sketch attests to result of spending too much time in isolation, with a loosening grip on reality that the crew battled against until their return home.

Image of the king and queen inspecting the Nimrod
The September 1909 issue of Pearson’s Magazine was dedicated to Shackleton’s journey. The magazine features numerous ads and sections commemorating the triumph, and culminates in a first-hand account of the dangerous excursion. The image here shows Lieut. Shackleton on the Nimrod accompanied by the King and Queen, who gave their blessings to the expedition. During this farewell visit, King Edward VII awarded Shackleton the status of "member of the Victorian Order," and Queen Alexandra entrusted Shackleton with a Union Jack to carry to on the southern sledge journey to plant at the South Pole. This royal visit helped generate national support for the expedition.
The fantasy land fof Bathybia from the Antarctic Book
Douglas Mawson's "Bathybia," from The Antarctic Book: Winter Quarters, 1907-09, is a fictional story written during Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition that chronicles an excursion across the frozen Antarctic continent, and the discovery of a sunken basin in an extinct volcanic crater containing a lush tropical environment. Named "Bathybia" by the men, this tropical basin was home to gigantic fungi, as well as enlarged and dangerous forms of previously known animal taxa such as tardigrades, rotifers, and mites. Mawson crafts a fantastic tale of exploration, discovery, and survival in "Bathybia," only to wake up from a short nap at the end of the story to realize that everything had been a dream. The fantasy showcases Mawson's creativity, the quest for scientific discovery during the Nimrod expedition, and the mentality of the men on the voyage as they coped with the frozen, harsh conditions of Antarctica.

Material selection and label concepts from Ravynn Nothstein '17, Christian Frey '18, Jo Nazareth '17, and Kyle Kittleberger '16

After the exhibit comes down, you can see Antarctic Days by asking for Stef G850 1907 .M8Pearson's is Stef Mss-242, Box 21, folder 70; and The Antarctic Book is Stef G850 1907 .A322.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Vortex of Misery

Oh dear, be careful who you fall in love with! We just bought a little booklet with a dire warning: Miss Eliza Rossell: A Tale of the Unfortunate-Female, written by "a Friend." Poor Miss Eliza made an unfortunate decision in life. She was wooed by a rake, Mr. Seldon. He had a little property, but as Eliza's wise father noted, it was not from "his own hard earnings." Only after she eloped did she learn he was nothing less than a cutthroat highwayman.

Image of Eliza's lover being shot
He is killed in a robbery attempt, and Eliza returned home in a fever with her children. She made a full confession to her family then promptly passed out. Her family feared her dead, but then she stirred:
Looking around in amazement, she said, "oh, what a pleasant dream I have had! I thought I had made my confession to you and you had all forgiven me, and were going to take care of my poor, fatherless children"
Image of Eliza's confession
Her father (not only wise, but just) reassured her that it was not a dream, and that all had been forgiven. After a bit more melodrama, poor Eliza died. The moral of the story is clear:
Thus we see the end of one who, early in life, bid fair to prosper and be happy; but who, by one false step, in disregarding the advice of her friends, was plunged into a vortex of misery, from which no human efforts could deliver her.
You can wallow in Eliza's misfortunes by asking for 1926 Coll M577.