ROALD ENGELBREGT GRAVNING AMUNDSEN (1872-1928)
Sydpolen: Den Norske Sydpolsfaerd med Fram 1910-1912. Kristiania: Jacob Dybwads, [May-September] 1912. 40 parts, 8° in fours (240 x 164mm). Sepia photographic frontispiece of Amundsen, 47 plate leaves, 4 maps, 3 coloured, and numerous text illustrations, instructions for private binders at front of part 40, advertisement for the subscription for the remainder of parts 24-40 tipped onto the cover of part 18. Original paper wrappers decorated with circular photograph set within a surround of penguins, the first two parts coloured silver and the remainder light blue (wrapper of part 10 slightly frayed at outer margin, parts 1 & 26 with slight paper repairs to outer margin of front wrapper, part 40 with newly-papered spine, upper left corner of rear wrapper torn away and replaced in blank, affecting advertisement); in two solander boxes. Except for the first part, UNCUT AND UNOPENED.
VERY RARE ORIGINAL PARTS ISSUE of Amundsen's classic account of his victorious expedition to the south pole. Amundsen disembarked from the Fram at Buenos Aires in May 1912 to meet his sponsor Don Pedro Christophersen. He was invited to stay on one of Christophersen's estancias to write up his account of the expedition. The Fram returned home without him, leaving Buenos Aires on 7 June 1912, the second anniversary of their departure from Christiania. The sudden contrast was not lost on Amundsen: 'Here I am, sitting in the shade of palms, surrounded by the most wonderful vegetation, enjoying the most magnificent fruits, and writing -- the history of the South Pole. What an infinite distance seems to separate that region from these surroundings! And yet it is only four months since my gallant comrades and I reached the coveted spot ... On December 14, 1911, five men stood at the southern end of our earth's axis, planted the Norwegian flag there, and named the region after the man for whom they would all gladly have offered their lives -- King Haakon VII. Thus the veil was torn aside for all time, and one of the greatest of our earth's secrets had ceased to exist. Since I was one of the five who, on that December afternoon, took part in this unveiling, it has fallen to my lot to write -- the history of the South Pole'.
Noticeably lacking the heroic tone of Scott's accounts, Amundsen's typically modest narrative of the Norwegian endeavour 'speaks of what is achieved, not of their hardships. Every word a manly one. That is the mark of the right man, quiet and strong' (Nansen, Introduction). Written before the outcome of Scott's Terra Nova Expedition was known, the differences between the two expeditions were already being outlined, and the battlelines in what would become an ongoing debate already being drawn: 'For the victory is not due to the great inventions of the present day and the many new appliances of every kind. The means used are of immense antiquity, the same as were known to the nomad thousands of years ago, when he pushed forward across the snow-covered plains of Siberia and Northern Europe. But everything, great and small, was thoroughly thought out, and the plan was splendidly executed. It is the man that matters, here as everywhere... Let no one come and prate about luck and chance. Amundsen's luck is that of the strong man who looks ahead' (Nansen, ibid).
This original parts issue of Sydpolen was followed by Jacob Dybwads' 2-volume edition and translated immediately into English, Danish, French, and German. Rosove lists only 2 copies of the original parts issue (one of which lacks the binding advertisement and instructions) calling it 'VERY SCARCE'. He lists no copies in public institutions. Most part issues were bound together by contemporary binders, the original printed wrappers being 'variably retained', and even these bound sets Rosove considers 'uncommon' (4 listings). No set of the original parts issue is recorded at auction by ABPC since 1975. Rosove 8.A1.