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Ernest Shackleton

Date de naissance: 15. février 1874
Date de décès: 5. janvier 1922

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Ernest Henry Shackleton, né le 15 février 1874 à Kilkea en Irlande, et mort le 5 janvier 1922 dans l'île de la Géorgie du Sud, est un explorateur britannique, considéré comme l'une des principales figures de l'âge héroïque de l'exploration en Antarctique et même, par un expert en leadership tel que le britannique John Adair, comme le plus grand leader du XXe siècle.

Shackleton prend contact pour la première fois avec les régions polaires en 1901 en tant que troisième officier lors de l'expédition Discovery menée par Robert Falcon Scott, qu'il doit quitter avant son terme pour raisons de santé.

Déterminé à faire oublier cet échec personnel, il retourne en Antarctique en 1907 comme chef de l'expédition Nimrod. En janvier 1909, il établit, alors, avec trois compagnons, un record avec une marque à la latitude 88°23'S, soit à près de 100 milles du pôle Sud. Cet exploit lui vaut d'être anobli par le roi Édouard VII dès son retour.

Après la conquête du pôle sud en 1911 par Roald Amundsen, Shackleton porte son attention sur ce qu'il estime être le dernier grand objectif de l'Antarctique : la traversée du continent de la mer de Weddell à la mer de Ross via le pôle. Il monte, à cette fin, ce qui est devenu l'expédition Endurance. La malchance le frappe lors de cette expédition et le navire, l'Endurance, se retrouve emprisonné plusieurs mois dans les glaces. Il est lentement écrasé par la pression des glaces, obligeant les hommes à débarquer. S'ensuit une série d'exploits - dont un ultime sauvetage sans aucune perte humaine – qui va asseoir le mythe de Shackleton, bien que ce ne fut pas immédiatement évident.

En 1921, il retourne en Antarctique avec l'expédition Shackleton-Rowett, dans l'intention de mener à bien un programme scientifique et des explorations. Avant que le travail ne commence, quelques heures après avoir jeté l'ancre dans l'anse de Grytviken en Géorgie du Sud, Shackleton meurt d'une crise cardiaque dans sa goélette, le Quest. À la demande de son épouse, il est enterré sur place, où il a accompli l'un de ses plus grands exploits.

Loin de ses expéditions, la vie de Shackleton est généralement agitée et insatisfaisante. Cherchant à faire fortune rapidement, il lança un grand nombre d'entreprises dont aucune ne prospérera. Ses affaires financières sont plutôt nébuleuses et, à sa mort, il doit plus de 40 000 livres sterling . À l'annonce de son décès, il est salué dans la presse européenne, puis tombe dans l'oubli, tandis que la réputation d'héroïsme de son rival Scott est entretenue.

Dans les années quatre-vingt, Shackleton est « redécouvert » ,, et devient en peu d'années une figure culte, un modèle de leadership qui, dans des circonstances extrêmes, a gardé son équipe unie pour réaliser l'une des histoires de survie les plus mémorables de l'histoire polaire.

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Citations Ernest Shackleton

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„We had "suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole. We had seen God in His splendours, heard the text that Nature renders." We had reached the naked soul of man.“

—  Ernest Shackleton
Context: At the bottom of the fall we were able to stand again on dry land. The rope could not be recovered. We had flung down the adze from the top of the fall and also the logbook and the cooker wrapped in one of our blouses. That was all, except our wet clothes, that we brought out of the Antarctic, which we had entered a year and a half before with well-found ship, full equipment, and high hopes. That was all of tangible things; but in memories we were rich. We had pierced the veneer of outside things. We had "suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole. We had seen God in His splendours, heard the text that Nature renders." We had reached the naked soul of man. Ch 10 : Across South Georgia; in this extract, Shackleton was paraphrasing the poem "The Call of the Wild" by Robert Service, published in 1907.

„The difficulties of the journey lay behind us.“

—  Ernest Shackleton
Context: The difficulties of the journey lay behind us. We tried to straighten ourselves up a bit, for the thought that there might be women at the station made us painfully conscious of our uncivilized appearance. Our beards were long and our hair was matted. We were unwashed and the garments that we had worn for nearly a year without a change were tattered and stained. Three more unpleasant-looking ruffians could hardly have been imagined. Worsley produced several safety-pins from some corner of his garments and effected some temporary repairs that really emphasized his general disrepair. Down we hurried, and when quite close to the station we met two small boys ten or twelve years of age. I asked these lads where the manager's house was situated. They did not answer. They gave us one look — a comprehensive look that did not need to be repeated. Then they ran from us as fast as their legs would carry them. We reached the outskirts of the station and passed through the " digesting-house," which was dark inside. Emerging at the other end, we met an old man, who started as if he had seen the Devil himself and gave us no time to ask any question. He hurried away. Ch 10 : Across South Georgia

„At the bottom of the fall we were able to stand again on dry land.“

—  Ernest Shackleton
Context: At the bottom of the fall we were able to stand again on dry land. The rope could not be recovered. We had flung down the adze from the top of the fall and also the logbook and the cooker wrapped in one of our blouses. That was all, except our wet clothes, that we brought out of the Antarctic, which we had entered a year and a half before with well-found ship, full equipment, and high hopes. That was all of tangible things; but in memories we were rich. We had pierced the veneer of outside things. We had "suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole. We had seen God in His splendours, heard the text that Nature renders." We had reached the naked soul of man. Ch 10 : Across South Georgia; in this extract, Shackleton was paraphrasing the poem "The Call of the Wild" by Robert Service, published in 1907.

„I have been thinking much of our prospects.“

—  Ernest Shackleton
Context: I have been thinking much of our prospects. The appearance of Clarence Island after our long drift seems, somehow, to convey an ultimatum. The island is the last outpost of the south and our final chance of a landing-place. Beyond it lies the broad Atlantic. Our little boats may be compelled any day now to sail unsheltered over the open sea with a thousand leagues of ocean separating them from the land to the north and east. It seems vital that we shall land on Clarence Island or its neighbour, Elephant Island. The latter island has an attraction for us, although as far as I know nobody has ever landed there. Its name suggests the presence of the plump and succulent sea-elephant. We have an increasing desire in any case to get firm ground under our feet. The floe has been a good friend to us, but it is reaching the end of its journey, and it is liable at any time now to break up and fling us into the unplumbed sea. Ch. 8 : Escape From The Ice

„Difficulties are just things to overcome after all.“

—  Ernest Shackleton
Quoted in Shackleton (2013) by Roland Huntford https://books.google.cl/books?id=U6MNkTbRwtwC&pg=PT250&lpg=PT250&dq=Difficulties+are+just+things+to+overcome+after+all&source=bl&ots=3gWt7QcL43&sig=y5CzkBvxAdWC7MlWA3eP1eNkpDs&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Difficulties%20are%20just%20things%20to%20overcome%20after%20all&f=false

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„Optimism is true moral courage.“

—  Ernest Shackleton
Quoted in South with Shackleton (1949) by L. D. A. Hussey; also in The National Geographic Magazine (1998), Vol. 194, p. 90 https://books.google.com/books?id=RflKAAAAYAAJ&q=%22Optimism+is+true+moral+courage%22&dq=%22Optimism+is+true+moral+courage%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uPISVYCTK8_loAT_kYDIBw&ved=0CNABEOgBMCA

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