View topic - UNFLINCHING P. G. DOWNES' ANNOTATED COPY

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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 1:20 pm 
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I accessed enough on line to think it interesting to canoeists to share when it arrives.

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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 3:25 pm 
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Unflinching: A Diary of Tragic Adventure. By Edgar Christian. With an Introduction and Conclusion by B. Dew Roberts and a Preface by Dr. Henry C. Link. New York and London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1938.

"The 1926-27 diary of Edgar Christian, one of two amateurs taken along by his second cousin, the explorer John Hornby, into northern Canada's barren Thelon River area during winter, where the three starved to death.

This is the copy of Prentice G. "Spike" Downes, who himself gained a great reputation as an explorer in the same region of the northern Canadian wilderness between 1936 and 1947, and wrote the 1943 classic "Sleeping Island: A Journey to the Edge of the Barrens". It has his bookplate, signature, and his very interesting notes in pencil. There are many illuminating corrections and off-hand references showing Downes' familiarity with people and places mentioned, and which suggest that Downes discussed the episode with his network of explorer-friends such as George M. Douglas (who knew Hornby well). The notes are in the long introduction and conclusion sections (which Downes treats with undisguised contempt); the main text of Christian's diary has only some brackets and underlines revealing Downes' interest in and puzzlement at certain passages.

The book itself is a rather worn and well-thumbed copy - Good minus. No jacket, average external wear with board exposure at corners, bottom edge of spine chipped. The pages show (in addition to the pencil notes) many smudges, some corner-creases, a couple of edge tears. The spine is a bit slanted, the binding is serviceable, but shows incipient cracking and tenderness.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/UNFLINCHING-Ed ... 1815689945


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 6:00 pm 
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Given the condition of the book, my plan is to scan in all Downes' annotations.


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 6:46 pm 
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I'd be very interested in reading those pages, if you are a man of charity, lol.


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 6:54 pm 
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"I'd be very interested in reading those pages, if you are a man of charity, lol."

I am not "a man of charity", I am a man of clarity. lol


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 7:43 pm 
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david demello wrote:
"I'd be very interested in reading those pages, if you are a man of charity, lol."

I am not "a man of charity", I am a man of clarity. lol


thx for making that clear!! :D

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Old canoeists never die---they just smell that way.



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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 8:32 pm 
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For the purpose of clarity let me repeat my purpose is to scan the relevant pages of this one off deteriorating source. I am not doing it for charitable reasons. What will I get out of it? By placing it in a public forum I hope it will excite exchanges of ideas. To me that will lead toward clarity through argument.

If I am injected into the discussion I will void the effort.


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 10:01 pm 
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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 10:10 pm 
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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 10:24 pm 
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PostPosted: September 24th, 2019, 11:10 pm 
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The above is what to expect when I get the book. I expect my scans to be better


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PostPosted: September 25th, 2019, 5:28 am 
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Well, Mr. Demello, that is a unique find! Extremely interesting, I am looking forward to the commentary.

I just finished reading River of Doubt, about Theodore Roosevelt's grand misadventure. Started me thinking about Hubbard's journey into Labrador. Seems like there were many fellows around that time in history who wanted to place a feather in their hat for exploring "unmapped" or untamed areas, who really had no idea what they were getting into. Looking forward to Downes' analysis.


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PostPosted: September 25th, 2019, 10:41 pm 
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Mr RHaslam I cannot answer for other people's motivation and probably not even my own. When I was immersed in 'expedition' canoeing, I was absorbed by it and had no idea that there was a canoeing community. A disparate group seems oxymoronic but in many ways that is what it appears to me, especially with the attendant tensions that arise when one party opines about another party. A small example just came to me in the form of Downes' quote on page 142 in response to the words "defeated by the incalculable factor...." which was "No - it is calculable with intelligence and planning - neither of which Hornby with his experience and knowledge displayed" & then the very first sentence in "Sleeping Island" says this: "I suppose it is pure heresy to open an account of a few months' wandering in the sub-Arctic of Canada with the statement that I was not particularly sure where I was going." I would argue that "sleeping Island" charm lay with its unplanned emergent nature. By way of contrast Hornby knew exactly where he was going. "Curiouser and curiouser!" Also Hornby knew who his fellow travelers and Downes did not.


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PostPosted: September 26th, 2019, 11:18 am 
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Really interesting! I wonder where all that book traveled, after P.G. passed away; how it came to arrive on eBay. Have not read the young man's diary, but did read The Snow Man and also found Downes' Sleeping Island captivating.


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PostPosted: September 26th, 2019, 1:34 pm 
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That's a great find, David. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it once you've had a chance to go through it and to see his comments. I haven't read the book yet so I'll have to do that soon.

Alan


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