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A Dream In Polar Fog (A Dream in Polar Fog #1)

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  176 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
When ice traps John MacLennan's ship in the Bering Strait in 1910, the youthful sailor blows up his hands trying to widen a small fissure with dynamite.

Local Chukchi men take him by dogsled to a medicine woman, but gangrene sets in and John's hands have to be amputated. Then strong winds break the ice shelf and his ship sails off without him ...

John gradually adapts to his
...more
Paperback, 334 pages
Published February 2008 by Telegram (first published 1968)
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(showing 1-30 of 475)
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Cody
Jul 22, 2011 Cody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, north
In trying to place this wonderful text on one of my Goodreads shelves, I was pleased to discover that it doesn't exactly fit anywhere (I settled for "Russia" on geographical terms, but that's completely arbitrary). That's be cause A Dream in Polar Fog is kind of about everything--at least more so than most books I've read that have been given such a label.

On the surface, it's an engrossing travel tale about John MacLennan, a novice Canadian explorer that finds himself marooned amongst the Chukc
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Franziska
In Enmyn im hohen russischen Norden legt eines Tages, Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts, ein Schiff an, das vom Packeis getrieben und festgesetzt vorerst keine Chance hat, wieder auf Fahrt gehen zu können. Nach einigen Tagen wachsender Ungeduld bessert sich schließlich die Wetterlage. Um endgültig freizukommen wird John, einer der Matrosen, losgeschickt, um Sprengungen durchzuführen und so eine Fahrtrinne zu haben. Und dabei geschieht das Unglück: John wird stark verletzt, insbesondere an den Händen. ...more
Russell
Mar 16, 2014 Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve had the treat of just returning to Yuri Rythkheu’s novel A Dream in Polar Fog (trans. Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse; Archipelago Books, 2005) to teach it in my class this semester. If it were just an adventure story, one would not expect the book to have been published by a press with Archipelago’s literary credentials. And indeed, while plot is what drives the book forward, local color gives it depth. Add a dose of historical fiction, and the novel lopes briskly along on three legs without the ne ...more
Rori
Nov 15, 2014 Rori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me a few chapters to get into this one, but once the scene was set I was captivated.

John MacLennan, a sailor from Ontario, finds himself abandoned among the Chukchi people of northeastern Russia in the early 20th century after suffering a devastating accident. The book chronicles the following eight years as he learns to adapt to his new reality, coming to terms with the results of his injuries and life in an entirely foreign culture. Through ingenuity and desperation, John comes to apprec
...more
Karen
Apr 24, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't stop thinking about this book. The language is beautiful, the story is compelling, and it really provided some amazing insights about culture, survival, nature, community, the environment, and what makes life worth living.
Katherine Hurinovich
Знаете, я не воспринимаю другие народы в ключе "они лучше/хуже нас". Они иные, и это ключевой момент. Книга Рыхтэу открыла для меня чукотский народ с той стороны, с которой нам точно не расскажут популярные анекдоты. Он описал все черты этноса: религия, культура, быт, философия, причём всё повествование не монотонно, а вкупе с элементом приключений - это несомненный выйгрышный момент. Очень живописны описания природы (эм, хотя вернее сказать полярных ландшафтов), и невольно задаётся вопрос: а ка ...more
Ilya
Dec 26, 2010 Ilya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The year is 1910. A Canadian trading ship got stuck in ice off the coast of Chukotka, just south of Wrangel Island, next to a Chukchi settlement. An inexperienced sailor, a fresh graduate of the University of Toronto looking for adventure, tries to dynamite the ice away, but a dynamite stick explodes near his hands and mangles them. The captain persuades two local Chukchi hunters to drive him to the Russian doctor in Anadyr on a dogsled, promising a big reward. However, at the first layover they ...more
Tim
A Dream in Polar Fog tells the story of how an outsider, Canadian John MacLennan, comes to live with, and gradually become part of, a settlement of indigenous Chukchi people living on the Arctic coast of Siberia, during the years 1910-1917. Yuri Rytkheu, himself Chukchi, uses the outsider MacLennan as our introduction to the life of the Chukchi, and to the encroaching threats that Western ships and Western ways pose to their way of life and their hunting grounds.[return][return]MacLennan is forc ...more
Tim
A Dream in Polar Fog tells the story of how an outsider, Canadian John MacLennan, comes to live with, and gradually become part of, a settlement of indigenous Chukchi people living on the Arctic coast of Siberia, during the years 1910-1917. Yuri Rytkheu, himself Chukchi, uses the outsider MacLennan as our introduction to the life of the Chukchi, and to the encroaching threats that Western ships and Western ways pose to their way of life and their hunting grounds.[return][return]MacLennan is forc ...more
Amy
Jul 10, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sean McLachlan
Nov 30, 2013 Sean McLachlan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People often say when they enjoy a book that they're sorry when it's over. I rarely say that because I'm always anticipating the next book I'll read!
With this historical novel, however, I really was sorry when it was over because I doubt I'll ever read a book like it again.
The author, Yuri Rytkheu, grew up in a traditional Chukchi settlement in Siberia in the early 20th century when that way of life was already fast disappearing. He wrote this novel in 1968.
The story follows a Canadian sailor wh
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Susan
Mar 25, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arctic
I'm fascinated by the Arctic and life in the Arctic. This novel (probably) does a good job of exploring the difficult life of living entirely off the land as life in the Arctic is changing in the early 20th Century. The love story seems less realistic - but that's what makes the book a good read too.
Debbie Guzzi
Oct 22, 2015 Debbie Guzzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly engrossing book exploring life in the arctic circle, the weather, the animals, the humans who live there in harmony with nature. The author explores what it means to be human in the kindest way possible. It’s a book which not only tells a good story of an American adventurer going native but seeks to determine the value of all life. I highly recommend this book.
Theresa Mannix
May 20, 2007 Theresa Mannix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a cold book on a hot day
An early 20th-century Canadian adventurer named John MacLennan finds himself stranded in a small Chukchi community in far northeastern Siberia. This small Arctic fishing and hunting community takes him in, cares for him and eventually embraces him. It's a wonderful and beautiful story of cross-cultural differences and acceptance. But there are certainly the inevitable dramatic confrontations, heart-breaking disasters and ugly cultural clashes.
Who has even heard of the Chukchi? The novel capture
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Danceheap
Sep 24, 2009 Danceheap rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book didn't grab me immediately and some translation mistakes also grated a bit, but as the story developed, and the characters too, I was drawn into the snowy, cold, meat-filled (as a vegetarian!) and precarious life of the Chukchi. I found it a book that really grounds, a reminder of what life is really about. I loved the clash between John and various characters in the book with different opinions/attitudes - and it was often not just a straight clash of different cultures. The story is f ...more
Guy
Dec 27, 2013 Guy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to give it 4 even though it is a marvellous book.

The characters are beautiful and full, the landscape and era are so vividly drawn you don't need to know the place to live it. It is full of emotions and small details that make you love and live with the different characters. I was reading the book bit by bit, a chapter or two a day, always straggling to keep something for tomorrow. I kept thinking about the situation and finding similarity to my own daily life, lines to be drawn and idea
...more
Caitrin
Jan 21, 2016 Caitrin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting and compelling story of racial and cultural interaction in 19th-20th century Siberia.
Stacia
Sep 07, 2014 Stacia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: armchair adventurers or anyone interested in the Arctic
Part cultural millieu, part adventure, Rytkheu's book illuminates the harsh living & spare beauty of the remote Arctic Chukchi people & their environment.
Carol Peters
poorly written but interesting view into another culture
Josie
Jan 29, 2013 Josie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazing peak into Chukchi culture, and a view of western society from a native perspetive. Starting around 1912, set in the polar regions of the Russian empire, a young Canadian becomes stranded in a Chukchi village. This is the story of his evolving view of the lifestyle and people he comes to live with.

Very horizon-broadening, worthwhile read, but not a "pants-on-fire, can't put this down!" pace.
Maryam Almutawwa
Oct 01, 2014 Maryam Almutawwa rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-the-shelf
I actually find this book so boring, with little fragments of events thrown in the beginning of the book and in its end and the rest of it is just insignificant, with over-detailed daily practices; he goes to the hunt, fails, tries again, successes, goes back to the hut, reflects on his day and the food he is eating (repeated throughout the book), beside the fact that the end was a bit expected!
Andrew Bourne
I love the Chukchi arctic materials--walrus leather, whale bone, fur, boiled nerpa... I even like how the adventure genre gives way almost entirely to melodrama, but a good deal of the storytelling is dealt with too heavy a hand. I wish it were a bit more dreamy and ambiguous, more spacious for the reader. I feel patronized when the author really leans on interpreting his own scenes.
Nicole
Jul 07, 2009 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this very interesting book at the Mary Styles Library. A tale of survival of an American sailor who loses his hands and is abandoned by his ship, he is adopted by a tribe of Russian indigenous people related to the Eskimos. This tale is very detailed and describes a hard life of subsistence living in the arctic. Although a bit dated, it was still a fascinating read.
Louise
Dec 12, 2011 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating story of arctic aborigines and an explorer who ends up living and becoming a part of their lives in early 20th century. It is beautifully written, lyrical, thoughtful and gripping, really making you think of how we live and what is important. It was written many years ago but only recently translated from Russian.
Jgknobler
Jack London meets Margaret Mead in this charming novel, set in the Arctic in 1910. An American white man is left to make a life among the indigenous hunters of the north when he loses his hands in an explosion. Best read in the comfort of one's warm bed.
Kathy
Apr 07, 2011 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this story, though it ended unexpectedly-like a couple of chapters short. I appreciated the quality of the translation and would recommend it to people who like stories about the outdoors as well as about relationships.
Rachel
Jan 30, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a gorgeous book! I've been obsessed with finding good historical fiction that is part anthropology and partly an eye into indigenous cultures around the world. The descriptions are fascinating and wondrous.
Vladimir Chupakhin
Amazing story about foreigner lost in the cold Chukotka, where he adopted new way of life and became one of the natives. Very deep book about human relationships, harsh nature and battle for survival.
Anastasia
This was an excellent book, providing the reader a glimpse of the life of the Chukchi people of the Artic, and of one white man's journey of coming to be their equals.
Bryn Hammond
Bought as a follow-up to his The Chukchi Bible
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In Cyrillic: Юрий Рытхэу.
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“People who live in cold climes must keep warm by kindness," Orvo spoke softly in reply. "I think that is how every person should be. Kindness -- it's the same as having a head, a nose, a pair of feet . . . There are many nations living on the earth. Each of their people carries a seed of suspicion toward those not of their own tribe. Oftentimes, they won't even see the people of another tribe as real human beings. . . .” 1 likes
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