The Legacies and Frozen Time of Antarctica: Robert Falcon Scott, Peter Pan and Rebecca Hunt’s Everland

Jessica Hewenn

Abstract


Antarctica hosts access to the tangible past, with ice-cores working as an archive of the earth’s climate memory. However, our constructed cultural memories of Antarctica are more difficult to read, and our records of the past were written with an eye to their legacy for the future. Rebecca Hunt’s 2014 novel, Everland, critiques Antarctic exploration legacy as a way of remembering and learning from the past. Her novel juxtaposes two expeditions, set a century apart, and depicts time as frozen through the use of repetitions and doppelgängers. I contend that this challenge to cultural memory is connected specifically with Robert Falcon Scott’s legacy, and particularly the link between Scott and J. M. Barrie’s eternal youth, Peter Pan. Scott is represented as a Lost Boy of the Neverland of Antarctica, and this problematic conception of Antarctica itself as a Neverland of the Victorian Imperial era is part of our cultural memory of the continent. While exploring the problematisation of legacies of the past raised by Hunt’s novel, I assert that the book exhibits the present historically, pointing to our own legacy left for the future, and indicates the dangers of intentionally ignoring or misremembering the present. I argue that by confronting our cultural memories of Antarctica, we are re-evaluating both Antarctica’s past, and its future.


Keywords


Rebecca Hunt; Everland, Antarctica, J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan, Robert Falcon Scott, Terra Nova expedition, Scott of the Antarctic, neo-Victorian fiction, neo-Victorian historical novel, Antarctic literature, Antarctic ecocriticism, humanlessness

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