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Payer and Weyprecht
Man Proposes, God Disposes


On 11 Juli 1897, Salomon Andrée and his trusting, dedicated companions took off from the low plains of Spitzbergen for a flight to the Pole in a Paris-made balloon. In the evening of that very day, carrier-pigeons flattered from their basket, bearing hopeful messages that didn't arrive anywhere. As early as the fourth day after take-off, the last of the ill prophesies was fullfilled and the since long unmanageable balloon sank beyond the eighty-third degree of North latitude, infinitely far away from the Pole, infinitely far away from human beings, into the pack ice.

Christoph Ransmayr, "Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis"

In 1930 the bodies of Andrée (above) and his companions were found, together with Andrée's diaries and exposed photographic plates.


Two of the damned and their crashed balloon.
Picture from the French magazine "L'illustration", December 1930. Used by kind permission of Tom de Herdt from Belgium. Tom and I happen to be, independently, exploring the same Arctic and literary themes.