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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Arctic Itinerary

The arctic/antarctic/explorer interest that began with Dan Simmons' novel The Terror is expanding once again.

A commenter asked about the mysterious Fox sisters mentioned in The Terror . The Fox sisters were American spiritualists/psychics in the 19th century, and Margaret married Elisha Kane, an arctic explorer involved in the search for the Franklin Expedition.

Another book that I've added to my wish list is Exploring Other Worlds: Margaret Fox, Elisha Kent Kane and the Antebellum Culture of Curiosity. The title alone makes my greedy little fingers itch. Exploration, a medium, an explorer, and curiosity--all intriguing. Connections to both arctic exploration and to the strange cultural phenomenon that captured the Victorian imagination.

There is some information about Elisha Kane in Resolute, the book I recently finished, but only in relation to his interests as an explorer; there is no mention of his marriage to Margaret Fox. Dan Simmons, however, included the pair in his novel in a unique way.

And as with all reading itineraries, I sense a digression with the medium aspect. One novel can certainly lead you down a long and twisting road, and I love stories of the early charlatans in the clairvoyant profession. I've also added this title to the wish list: Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism.

This digression leads away from exploration, but could lead back to literature with William Butler Yeats and Arthur Conan Doyle and their connections to the early spiritualist movement! What fun!


  1. I have The Terror here to read soon. I am looking forward to it!

  2. I love it when one book leads to another and another... The Talking to the Dead book sounds like it'd be a fascinating read. I love reading about spiritualism and how popular it was. Did you ever read Spook? Not one of my favorites but the chapters on mediums and such was interesting.

  3. Man, you are doing great things for my wish list... Can you read books that don't interest me for a while? lol Just kidding. :)

  4. You should do a flow chart of how each book led to the others. It would be fun to see visually how our readings lead us along the way!

  5. What Dark Orpheus said...lately, you've had me on the edge of my chair, your reading is so interesting. Bravo, Jenclair!

  6. I had no idea of this growing up (or I've forgotten), but the Fox sisters grew up very near my teenage home in upstate New York -- their haunted house was maybe 15 minutes away. My part of NYS is an odd religious vortex I'm quite sure -- I lived very near the Joseph Smith farm and the place he found the golden tablets or whatever they were and founded Mormonism. Interesting!

  7. That last one sounds so neat!

  8. Marg - Hope you like it! Simmons does pull you into that arctic world.

    iliana - I'm loving the way one book leads to another in this fashion. The spiritualists and mediums of the time were so brazen! Haven't read Spook, but will keep it in mind--sounds interesting.

    Kailana - My wish list continues to grow so quickly that I'm tempted to desist from writing down titles...but have no will power!

    Orpheus - A flow chart would be neat! I might do that. Thanks for the idea.

    Bybee - So far, this has been a fun reading year! And educational, too.

    Dorothy - Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Is it the place itself that contributes or is it a kind of contagion? There do seem do be certain locations that produce more supernatural and/or religious phenomena than others.

    Eva - :) I'm kind of chomping at the bit on the two spiritualist titles!

  9. I want to read The Terror when I finish Shutter Island. I can't believe I have not read that book, and there is a movie coming out.

  10. Deborah - I had no idea there was a movie! Thanks for letting me know-- must check this out. Who will play Crozier?

  11. The Terror is on my TBR list (although admittedly, it's been there awhile) but I didn't know it mentions the Fox sisters. That moves it up the list for me! Have you read The Tenth Gift?

  12. Ah, what a great digression! I really want to read The Terror at some point. All the buzz on the internet really has me intrigued. I also need to read some more Doyle, it has been far too long.

  13. Lesley - It's a long 'un, but it reads quickly. Yes, the Fox sisters make an appearance in Crozier's dream. What was really weird was that until I read Resolute, I didn't know anything about Margaret Fox marrying Elisha Kent Kane--another arctic explorer who searched for the Franklin expedition.

    Haven't read The Tenth Gift, but have written down the title to check on!

    Carl - Have to admit to loving stuff about spiritualists, so the digression is a welcome one. And Doyle's belief in spiritualism (and in fairies) is also interesting!