Tuesday, July 6, 2010

German coverage of 2010 Franklin Search

In the 1850's, the search for Sir John Franklin captured the attention of all of Europe, with headlines in every language. McClintock's narrative was translated into French and German within a few months of its publication, and international interest in further searches remained strong.

Now, with a renewed search this summer, the Franklin story is once again attracting attention in the EU, particularly in Germany. German interest has always been strong, spurred by the immense success of Sten Nadolny's novel Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit (English: The Discovery of Slowness) in 1983. A week or so ago, I heard from Gerd Braune, a journalist in Ottawa, that he was preparing a piece on the new Franklin search for several German-language papers. He asked for, and I gave him, permission to use a photo I'd taken of the Franklin expedition graves on Beechey Island.

Just yesterday, he sent me copies of the resulting article. It's available here at Diepresse.com, and you can also see .pdfs of the large, illustrated versions in the Luxemburger Wort as well as Die Rheinpfalz. The articles are informative and well-written (I don't read or speak German, but my daughter has been studying the language for some time, and was able to translate them for me), and contain a few additional details -- my personal favorite comes at the end, where perennial Franklin pointman Louie Kamookak muses laughingly that, if the ships are found based on his information, he may henceforth be known as "Sir Kamookak."


  1. Interesting coverage, even if much of the material is similar in both articles, but what I like the most is your picture.
    By the way, with this I remembered that in a book of Paul Ensslin "Das große Buch der Entdeckungen" (the great book of discoveries) it was claimed that some sailors of the british ship "Miss Roseberry" saw the Terror in 1907 in a block of ice, without making any attempt to secure the discovery or giving position. I suspect that this is a false information, and I have never been able to find its origin. Is it possible to originate in Nadolny's book?

  2. The story you allude to is a fascinating one -- last year, our guest blogger Joe O'Farrell gave an excellent analysis of this enigmatic account. It was reported fairly widely in its day (the 1850's) -- if it's in Nadolny's novel it was far from its first mention. Have a look at Joe's post; it gives some useful background and sources.

  3. I remember well Joe's post, but it is not the account I referred to. The other is supossed to have hapenned in 1907, thus over 50 years later, and the ship mentioned was a coaler ship.
    I supposed this "anecdote" to originate in Nadolny's book because there is no mention to this other as in German references.

  4. Sorry, I'd somehow missed the date of your reference. I am not sure there ever was a ship of that name -- "Miss Roseberry" is the name of a character in Wilkie Collins's novel The New Magdalen, however. I suspect that this is a neat little bit of historical trickery, something like Jorge Luis Borges might think of, as the only sources I can find for such an incident are all in German and all use much the same language: "In der Nacht vom 21. auf den 22. Juni 1907 soll das Kohlenschiff Miss Roseberry Kontakt mit einem Eisblock gehabt haben, der sich als die vollkommen vereiste Terror erwies. Das Schiff wurde allerdings nicht abgeschleppt oder sonstwie gesichert, auch die genaue Position ist nicht bekannt." This is from the German Wikipedia, and cites the same book you mentioned ...

  5. I completely agree with you. It sounds quite exotic, even improbable if you think what a coaler ship could do in those latitudes, in 1907. I also looked for some additional references, and only found those in German reproducing what you wrote. Therefore I suspect this to be some literary quote taken as historical fact. If even an academic publisher like Klett (like McGraw-Hill in the US) or Wikipedia takes this as a fact, that's not good. I followed the German and English version, and only the former contains this "observation". In addition, there is no further reference to the name of the ship, which should be present in case of the quote being somewhat serious. Your quote of "Miss Roseberry" being the name of a character in a novel is quite enlightening, this may explain the extrapolation of the actual observation of 1852, in the case it was really related to the Franklin ships or not. Thanks for the reference, this settles the question for me.

    I use this opportunity to suggest the book of J. Malaurie "Ultima Thulé", being a quite interesting work on the Artcic explorers (and further on the effects on Inuit society). I found there some interesting facts and pictures that were unknown to me.

  6. Creo que el autor del libro al que hace referencia Rutger es Paul Herrmann, editado por Ensslin en 1958. Tengo una edición de 1982 en castellano en que se cita esa visión por parte del "Miss Roseberry" en el Atlántico Norte. No indica ninguna fuente histórica...
    Un saludo.