Thursday, 29 March 2012

The white immensities

One hundred years ago today, a dying Robert Falcon Scott wrote his last letter to his wife from the South Pole. Scott also wrote to his close friend, J.M. Barrie, ‘as a dying man’, asking him to look after his wife and son (who grew up to be the naturalist Peter Scott).

Barrie later saw parallels between Scott and his own figure of the immortal boy, Peter Pan. ‘When I think of Scott,’ he told an audience, ‘I remember the strange Alpine story of the youth who fell down a glacier and was lost, and of how a scientific companion, one of several who accompanied him, all young, computed that the body would again appear at a certain date and place many years afterwards. When that time came round one of the survivors returned to the glacier to see if the prediction would be fulfilled; all old men now; and the body reappeared as young as on the day he left them. So Scott and his comrades emerge out of the white immensities, always young.’

(Source: Andrew Birkin, J.M. Barrie and The Lost Boys (London, Futura, 1980), p 211)

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