Mittwoch, 23. Januar 2008

207. Labrador again

Inzwischen lese ich zwei/drei Bücher parallel - da sind zum Einen die beiden Bücher von Mina Hubbard-Benson und Dillon Wallace über ihre parallel verlaufenden Labrador-Expeditionen 1905 und dann noch der Bericht von Dillon Wallace über die 1903 gescheiterte Expedition auf der Minas Mann Leonidas Hubbard Jr. ums Leben kam.
Die beiden Bücher über die 1905er Expeditionen sind insofern bemerkenswert als beide zweigeteilt sind.
Wallace schildert seine Kanuexpedition quer durch Labrador (immer einige Tage bis Wochen hinter Mina her) bis er in Ungava-Bay ankommt und dann - im zweiten Teil des Buches die Rückreise mit Hundeschlitten an der Küste entlang. Ich weiß, ich bin ein Banause, aber Hundeschlittenreisen interessieren mich nicht so.
Mina Hubbards Buch schildert ihre Kanuexpedition bis nach Ungava-Bay. Anschließend wird das Reisetagebuch ihres Mannes von 1903 wieder gegeben und dann folgt noch ein Bericht der Vorgänge um Hubbards Tod von Seiten George Elsons, des Halbblutindianers, der Hubbard 1903 neben Wallace begleitete und der 1905 mit Hubbards Witwe unterwegs war.
Mina Hubbards Erzählung hat mir besser gefallen. Ich habe einige Zeit überlegt ob es daran lag, dass sie die erfolgreiche, d.h. gewissermaßen 'siegreiche' Expedition schildert oder ob es daran liegt, dass sie mit dem exotischen Status 'Frau' (für derartige Expeditionen und für die damalige Zeit allemal) erzählt. Es sind aber vor allen die Inhalte, die sich um das Reisen im Canadier drehen, die ihre Erzählung so lebendig machen. Ich zitiere mal zwei längere Stücke:

My canoe was to lead the way with George in the bow and Job in the stern, while Joe and Gilbert were to follow close behind. When we left our camp an extra paddle was placed within easy reach of each canoe man so that should one snap at a critical moment another could instantly replace it.
This was a new attitude towards the work ahead and as we paddled slowly in the direction of the outlet where the hills drew together, as if making ready to surround and imprison us, my mind was full of vague imaginings concerning the river.
Far beyond my wildest thought, however, was the reality. Immediately at the outlet the canoes were caught by the swift current and for five days we were carried down through almost continuous rapids. There were long stretches of miles where the slope of the river bed was a steep gradient and I held my breath as the canoe shot down at toboggan pace. There was not only the slope down the course of the river but where the water swung past long points of loose rocks, which reach out from either shore, a distinct tilt from one side to the other could be seen, as when an engine rounds a bend. There were foaming, roaring breakers where the river flowed over its bed of boulder shallows, or again the water was smooth and apparently motionless even where the slope downward was clearly marked.
Standing in the stern of the canoe, guiding it with firm, unerring hand, Job scanned the river ahead, choosing out our course, now shouting his directions to George in the bow, or again to Joe and Gilbert as they followed close behind. Usually we ran in the shallow water near shore where the rocks of the river bed looked perilously near the surface. When the sun shone, sharp points and angles seemed to reach up into the curl of the waves, though in reality they did not, and often it appeared as if we were going straight to destruction as the canoe shot towards them. I used to wish the water were not so crystal clear, so that I might not see the rocks for I seemed unable to accustom myself to the fact that it was not by seeing the rocks the men chose the course but by the way the water flowed.
Though our course was usually in shallow water near the shore, sometimes for no reason apparent to me, we turned out into the heavier swells of the deeper stronger tide. Then faster, and faster, and faster we flew, Job still standing in the stern shouting his directions louder and louder as the roar of the rapid increased or the way became more perilous, till suddenly, I could feel him drop into his seat behind me as the canoe shot by a group of boulders, and George bending to his paddle with might and main turned the bow inshore again. Quick as the little craft had won out of the wild rush of water pouring round the outer end of this boulder barrier, Job was an his feet again as we sped onward, still watching the river ahead that we might not become entrapped. Sometimes when it was possible after passing a particularly hard and dangerous place we ran into a quiet spot to watch Joe and Gilbert come through. This was almost more exciting than coming through myself.

I would sit trembling with excitement as we raced down the slope. It was most difficult to resist the impulse to grasp the sides of the canoe, and to compel myself instead to sit with hands clasped about my knee, and muscles relaxed so that my body might lend itself to the motion of the canoe. Sometimes as we ran towards the west the river glittered so in the afternoon sunshine that it was impossible to tell what the water was doing. This made it necessary to land now and again, so that Job might go forward and look over the course. As the bow of the canoe turned inshore, the current caught the stern and whirled it round with such force and suddenness, that only the quick setting of a paddle on the shoreward side kept the little craft from being dashed to pieces against the rocks.


Bei Wallace dagegen steht das Leiden und die Anstrengung und die heroische Leistung im Vordergrund. Das macht seine Bücher nicht schlechter - schließlich waren und sind das großartige Expeditionen gewesen - aber sie verweisen mich als Leser auf meine Position als Sessel-Sitzer während Mina Hubbards faszinierte Schilderung des Canadier-Fahrens oder ihre Naturbeobachtungen und humorvollen Schilderungen des Lagerlebens das ganze Unternehmen machbar und nachvollziehbar erscheinen lassen.

Ich werde alle Bücher nicht 'durch'-lesen sondern arbeite mich selektiv und parallel vor.

Fast ärgerlich ist, dass ich die beiden Bücher über die 1905er-Expeditionen zwar billig aber immer noch 'gekauft' habe während ich jetzt herausgefunden habe, dass es alle drei Bücher beim Project Gutenberg umsonst online gibt. Das 1903er-Buch habe ich mir angenehm im Marginaliensatz formatiert und ausgedruckt. Jetzt binde ich es noch provisorisch und mache mich morgen - auf einer weiteren Zugreise - darüber her.

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