A Dream in Polar Fog
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A Dream in Polar Fog is at once a cross-cultural journey, an ethnographic chronicle of the people of Chukotka, and a politically and emotionally charged adventure story. It is the story of John MacLennan, a Canadian sailor who is left behind by his ship, stranded on the northeastern tip of Siberia and the story of the Chukchi community that adopts this wounded stranger and teaches him to live as a true human being. Over time, John comes to know his new companions as a real people who share the best and worst of human traits with his own kind. Tragedy strikes, and wounds are healed with compassion and honesty as tensions rise and fall. Rytkheu’s empathy, humor, and provocative voice guide us across the magnificent landscape of the North and reveal all the complexity and beauty of a vanishing world.
back a paper saying you delivered him safe and sound, these Winchesters will be yours,” the captain said. Toko, who had never owned a proper gun, only a small shotgun, rushed over to the Winchesters. This kind of generosity was unheard of! Three Winchesters, with cartridges, in exchange for a month-long journey! “And he’ll hand over the guns right now?” Toko asked Orvo. “I’ll find out.” Orvo started to talk to the captain in English. They talked and argued for a long time. Then the captain
Excited and pleased, he tried to set his watch by it, but soon realized that the clock hands were indicating a strange sort of time. The alarm clock was an exotic ornament, like one of those Indian totems that were so favored by Toronto intellectuals for decorating their homes. The owner of the dwelling turned out to be a man with a certain degree of education. He spoke good English and, to John’s surprise, offered his hand in greeting. “How do you find our village?” the Aivanalin asked
piece of advice. True enough, I don’t know whether you will take it. I can’t remember a time when a Chukcha gave advice to a white man.” “So who was it then, advising the captain of the Vaigach? John reminded him. “That wasn’t advice. I just told him what I knew was true . . . But now, I really do want to give you advice. The captain couldn’t have done any differently, but you’re free not to follow what I say.” “Why should I not follow sensible advice?” John shrugged. “Why don’t you trade this
their way toward the outermost yaranga. A thoroughly fur-swaddled man sprang lightly from the second dogsled and headed for John. “Hello, John!” he shouted as he approached. “Don’t you recognize me?” The guest threw back his wolverine fur-lined hood and John immediately recognised Carpenter’s balding head. “Mr. Carpenter! Where could you be going to in such a season?” “To pay you a visit, dear John! To see you!” said Carpenter, shaking hands first with John, and then with the rest. “Kakomei,
at all, only to drive away this feeling of his own self-disappearing. Is this how vastness impresses itself on a man: as though drawing him into itself and dissolving him, leaving no flesh, no blood, no thoughts . . . Realizing that it was better to sit with eyes closed – at least he didn’t see this endless white space – John leaned back on the deer hides folded behind him and tried to sleep, to get away from this melancholy landscape, from his gloomy thoughts and the ache gnawing at his hands.