Quotes from The Worst Journey in the World

640 pages

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“And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“Take it all in all, I do not believe anybody on Earth has it worse than an Emperor penguin.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“I am glad The Worst Journey is coming out in Penguins: after all it is largely about penguins.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World



“I have seen Fuji, the most dainty and graceful of all mountains; and also Kinchinjunga: only Michael Angelo among men could have conceived such grandeur. But give me Erebus for my friend. Whoever made Erebus knew all the charm of horizontal lines, and the lines of Erebus are for the most part nearer the horizontal then the vertical. And so he is the most restful mountain in the world, and I was glad when I knew that our hut would lie at his feet. And always there floated from his crater the lazy banner of his cloud of steam.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“I might have speculated on my chances of going to Heaven; but candidly I did not care. I could not have wept if I had tried. I had no wish to review the evils of my past. But the past did seem to have been a bit wasted. The road to Hell may be paved with good intentions: the road to Heaven is paved with lost opportunities.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“It is really not desirable for men who do not believe that knowledge is of value for its own sake to take up this kind of life. The question constantly put to us in civilization was and still is: "What is the use? Is there gold? or Is there coal?" The commercial spirit of the present day can see no good in pure science: the English manufacturer is not interested in research which will not give him a financial return within one year: the city man sees in it only so much energy wasted on unproductive work: truly they are bound to the wheel of conventional life.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“Generally the risks were taken, for, on the whole, it is better to be a little over-bold than a little over-cautious, while always there was a something inside urging you to do it just because there was a certain risk, and you hardly liked not to do it. It is so easy to be afraid of being afraid!”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“committing suicide, both for your own sake and that of your companions. Both sexually and socially the polar explorer must make up his mind to be starved. To what extent can hard work, or what may be called dramatic imagination, provide a substitute? Compare our thoughts on the march; our food dreams at night; the primitive way in which the loss of a crumb of biscuit may give a lasting sense of grievance. Night after night I bought big buns and chocolate at a stall on the island platform at Hatfield station, but always woke before I got a mouthful to my lips; some companions who were not so highly strung were more fortunate, and ate their phantom meals. And the darkness, accompanied it may be almost continually by howling blizzards which prevent you seeing your hand before your face. Life in such surroundings is both mentally and physically cramped; open-air exercise is restricted and in blizzards quite impossible, and you realize how much you lose by your inability to see the world about you when you are out-of-doors. I am told that when confronted by a lunatic or one who under the influence of some great grief or shock contemplates suicide, you should take that man out-of-doors and walk him about: Nature will do the rest. To normal people like ourselves living under abnormal circumstances Nature could do much to lift our thoughts out of the rut of everyday affairs, but she loses much of her healing power when she cannot be seen, but only felt, and when that feeling is intensely uncomfortable. Somehow in judging polar life you must discount compulsory endurance; and find out what a man can shirk, remembering always that it is a sledging life which”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World



“From the masthead one can see a few patches of open water in different directions, but the main outlook is the same scene of desolate hummocky pack.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“He remarked afterwards to me, apropos to Hooper, that it was a curious thing that a number of men, knowing that there was nothing they could do, could quietly watch a man fighting for his life, and he did not think that any but the British temperament could do so.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“But we wasted our man-power in one way which could have been avoided. I have described how every emergency was met by calling for volunteers, and how the volunteers were always forthcoming. Unfortunately volunteering was relied on not only for emergencies, but for a good deal of everyday work that should have been organised as routine; and the inevitable result was that the willing horses were overworked. It was a point of honour not to ca' canny. Men were allowed to do too much, and were told afterwards that they had done too much; and that is not discipline. They should not have been allowed to do too much. Until our last year we never insisted on a regular routine.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“The point, one begins to see, was not merely to survive; it was to come through intact, true to one’s most decent self — in short, to survive as English gentlemen.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World


“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a Heaven for? R. Browning, Andrea del Sarto.”
― quote from The Worst Journey in the World



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