666: Christiane Ritter: A Woman in the Polar Night

In 1934, the Austrian painter Christiane Ritter travels to the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen to spend a year with her husband, an explorer and researcher. They are to live in a tiny ramshackle hut on the shores of a lonely fjord, hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement. At first, Christiane is horrified by the freezing cold, the bleak landscape the lack of equipment and supplies… But as time passes, after encounters with bears and seals, long treks over the ice and months on end of perpetual night, she finds herself falling in love with the Arctic’s harsh, otherworldly beauty, gaining a great sense of inner peace and a new appreciation for the sanctity of life. This rediscovered classic memoir tells the incredible tale of a woman defying society’s expectations to find freedom and peace in the adventure of a lifetime.

“These are scenes not made for human eyes. The drama of the polar world sinking slowly into shadow is played out in utter silence and remoteness. The scenes are changed by sorcery.”

Christiane Ritter “A Woman in the Polar Night: The classic memoir of a year in the Arctic wilderness”. First published in English in 1954. Translated by Jane Degras. This edition was published by Pushkin Press in 2019. Donated to the library by Sanne Moedt from Denmark. “I would like to donate my favourite Arctic memoir to the Sea Library,” she writes in an e-mail in September. Sanne also says: “Your posts inspire me to read more, to swim more, and to just look at the sea more.” ❤️

Photos by Anna Iltnere / Sea Library

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