Omission. Scott’s journal for the Terra Nova expedition is located in the British Library along with his work from the Discovery trip. Details are contained in this link to an article in The Guardian, they are held in the British Library and are also viewable on line. When the journal was first published many of the more negative aspects of Scott the leader were omitted. His comments on colleagues and those whom he was competing against were censored to some degree. There were other changes to the construction and syntax but as the years have gone on these elements have been returned to the book, along with letters and other supportive documents. Even with a greater completeness Scott still cuts a lonely figure who either comments on people if he wants their positive contribution recorded or if he wants to criticise their performance, ability or attitude. The version being read for this blog is the 2006 edition edited by Max Jones and he explains well the reasons for alteration and also comments on an ‘Edwardian prudishness’ that influenced those first editions.
Scotts Journal December 6th 1911. ‘The tempest rages with unabated violence’ is how Scott describes the weather outside as the party remains stuck in their tents. The temperature is increasing and everything is wet while the snow continues to fall and cover tents, sledges and the ‘despondent’ looking horses. They are only 12 miles from the glacier and Scott describes his mood as ‘a hopeless feeling descends on one and is hard to fight off, what immense patience is needed for such occasions’. A break in the weather later in the day allowed them to view land but the wind and snow continued. No travel today and they are all very wet.
Commentary. Scott is described as having low moods and Oates said he was difficult to get on with while in the book by Fiennes his melancholy is refered to as ‘black dog’ moods. He does appear aware of dealing with low moods, frustrating events and difficult colleagues. Today he talks of fighting off his hopelessness while staying patient and looking forward to better times ahead. This seems like a personal battle for Scott and every event and moment seems to move him along a continuum of hope and despair. The horses are fantastic or crocks, the weather glorious or horrendous and his men heroes or hopeless. Scott made a comment about Teddy Evan’s 2 days ago, ‘I think Evans had had enough of leading’ but this was omitted from the printed version. Much would be talked about in terms of Scott’s relationship with Evan’s and this, and other, omissions fuel such discussion. There is a sense of neurotic anxiety displayed when referring to others in the party, maybe even a sense of his own inadequacies. Perhaps this, more than his naval or cultural background, is why Wilson is his only real confidant and why he feels distant to the men he commands ?
Captain Scott – Picture from Wikimedia Commons