home in Denmark, to mynmother, and to my good friendnMagdalene who had not writtennto me. I decided that I wouldnhave to write her.n— after which, by a last violent effort,nhe pulls himself back all the way in.nEventually, by renewed strategy andneffort, he escapes, but not without thenconsequence of a frozen and then gangrenousnfoot. Inside his kamik boot thenthrobbing becomes unendurable.nInuyak pulled my kamik off—itnwas full of blood. The stitchesnhad cut through the flesh, andnthe wound lay open.nThis was disconcerting tonlook at, so I made Inuyak takenneedles and sew the endsntogether.nIt is that gritty understated disconcertion,nwhich almost makes us laugh,nthat certifies to Freuchen’s comic defensesnthroughout his experiences.nWe are so absorbed by the curiositiesnand ardors of his life in the north thatnwe scarcely heed certain historical andnofficial dimensions of it. Freuchen’s icencap crossings by dogsled became part ofnour international Arctic folklore, but henhardly alludes to them. When he graduatesnfrom trader and adventurer tongovernor of Thule province, a rewardnfor having secured North Greenland fornDenmark, he is so quick in his notationnthat many readers may fail to registernLIBERAL ARTSnTHE LAST REFUGE OFnSGOUNDRELSnHarrison loves my country too,nBut wants it all made over new.nHe’s Freudian Viennese by night.nBy day he’s Marxian Muscovite. . . .nWith him the love of country meansnBlowing it ail to smithereensnAnd having it all made over new.n—from “A Case for Jefferson”nby Robert Frostn46/CHRONICLESnthe fact.nSince 1912 the Danishnexplorer, Lauge Koch, has beennup there and has changed somenof the names. I have beenninterviewed about it, but itnmakes no difference to me whatnnames are applied. Mynenjoyment was in being there,nnot in having been there, and ifnthey place more worthy namesnon points of interest I shall notnturn a pin to prevent it.n”My enjoyment was in being there, notnin having been there” represents notnonly a winning attitude in general butnthe essential point of view for a writernaiming to give us the immediacy of thenretrospective experience, wanting abovenall for us to be submerged and lost innthe alien wild. That submergence ornlost-ness applies to Freuchen himself, ofncourse, even more than to his readers.nBecause, although we do not know sonvery much about him personally as wenmay wish to know, the 467-page booknitself indicates enough of his withheldnmotives, if only between its many lines.nWhat we do notice, ineluctably, is anlatent misanthropy — or anti-Gaucasianismn— that propels Freuchen awaynfrom civilization and that connectsnagain with Swift. The feeling does notnquite convert him into a Gulliver whonexperiences revulsion back home awaynfrom the Houyhnhnms, although hencertainly does feel telltale depression onntrips back to Denmark and wishes compulsivelynto return to the North. Hisnmisanthropy, which he at last overcomesnin himself, is more delicate thannit is in Swift, and a little more diffuse.nHe struggles with it, turning to symbolicngeneralization to take the curse off hisnantisocial instincts.nAfter two or three days theirndogs would go no farther, andnthey were compelled to butchernthe poorest ones and thrownthem to their fellows. Yetnamong dogs are foundncharacters almost as various asnamong men. Some dogs do notngive a damn what they eat;nsome will eat their ownnmothers, as I have oftennwitnessed, and others will starvento death before touching thenbodies of their teammates.nnnHe knows what he is about and henknows himself, finally—including thentrue nature of his escapism. His flightnfrom Denmark has been in great part anflight from sexual love generally and,neven after his marriage to Navarana,nflight specifically from a certain “Magdalene”n(no made up name, for Nabokoviansnor amateur Freudians), a maturenwoman of Copenhagen, herselfnsuffering nervous disorders. Freuchennacknowledges the deepest romantic upsurgenhe has ever felt in Magdalene’sncompany, and he subsequently remarks:nI felt immediately inferior to anwoman whose weakness wasnunimpressed with my strengthnor any of the things I was ablento do. My place, I felt anew,nwas not here with people whoncould see through me, but upnthere in the North. I would gonback, I thought, and never comenagain to Denmark.nHogwash, or sealfoam: he not onlyncomes back to Denmark and to Magdalene,nafter Navarana dies, but he correspondsnwith her in the interim and, asnwe have seen, is inspired to life bynthoughts of her in his direst extremity.nHe returns to her, in fact, as to hisnanima; she becomes his second wifenand the surrogate mother of his daughter.nThe exhilarative triumph at the verynend is of a special kind.nI ran up on deck and glancednabout me. And there she wasndown on the dock—Magdalene.nShe stood quietly lookingnup at me, and I jumpednonto the gangplank and rushedndown to her.nI had better finish mynspeeches to everyone else, shensaid. She would go back to hernhotel, and I could join her later.nI did as she bade me. Then Inwent back to her, and havenremained with her ever since.nFinally, he learns, one can transcendneven escapism. The triumphant reconciliationnis just the right note with whichnto end the complex and memorablenromance that Arctic Adventure actuallynis under its epical cast.nJesse Bier is a professor of English atnthe University of Montana innMissoula.n