A Woman in the Polar Night
"Conjures the rasp of the skin runner, the scent of burning blubber and the rippling iridescence of the Northern Lights…" Sara Wheeler, author of Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica
"Ritter manages to articulate all the terrible beauty and elemental power of a polar winter" Gavin Francis, author of Empire Antarctica
In 1934, the painter Christiane Ritter leaves her comfortable life in Austria and travels to the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen, to spend a year there with her husband. She thinks it will be a relaxing trip, a chance to "read thick books in the remote quiet and, not least, sleep to my heart’s content", but when Christiane arrives she is shocked to realize that they are to live in a tiny ramshackle hut on the shores of a lonely fjord, hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement, battling the elements every day, just to survive.
At first, Christiane is horrified by the freezing cold, the bleak landscape the lack of equipment and supplies… But as time passes, after encounters with bears and seals, long treks over the ice and months on end of perpetual night, she finds herself falling in love with the Arctic’s harsh, otherworldly beauty, gaining a great sense of inner peace and a new appreciation for the sanctity of life.
This rediscovered classic memoir tells the incredible tale of a woman defying society’s expectations to find freedom and peace in the adventure of a lifetime.
Born in 1897, Christiane Ritter was an Austrian artist and author. She wrote A Woman in the Polar Night on her return to Austria from Spitsbergen in 1934. It has since become a classic of travel writing, never going out of print in German and being translated into seven other languages. Christiane Ritter died in Vienna in 2000 at the age of 103.
Christiane Ritter (Author), Jane Degras (Translator)
Architecture / Interiors / Design & Graphics/ Landscaping