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G,day All, as a lad Thor Heyerdahl was my hero, a real life adventurer( The Kon Tiki Expedition etc). I have just discovered this fellow and bought his , Book Of The Seven Seas,

  Peter Freuchen (1886-1957)
Danish journalist, writer, and explorer, who established with Knud Rasmussen (1879-1933) the exploring station in Thule (1910). In addition to Arctic journeys, Freuchen also visited South Africa in 1935. Freuchen has confessed in his book of memoirs, MIN GRØNLANDSKE UNGDOM (1936), that he never planned to become an Arctic explorer, although he had from childhood wanted to go to sea. As a writer-adventurer he belonged to the company of such great names as Henry Morton Stanley, T.E. Lawrence, and Thor Heyerdahl. "Nomads are always on the move not because restlessness is their nature, but because living conditions drive them from place to place. The Arctic Eskimo must catch seals for meat and kamik skins and other things he needs. He must get walrus tusks in order to have flensing knives and harpoon points. He finds foxes at the mountains where the birds are too numerous to count. He goes north and he goes south. Thus it has been for so long that he no longer knows why he is moving." (from Vagrant Viking, 1954) Peter Freuchen was born in Nykøbing, on the island of Falster. His father was a businessman. Both of Freuchen's parents were good storytellers. At the age of eight he already had his own small boat, and he spent all his free time sailing - the somber Cathedral School and classical education in Latin did not much interest him. Freuchen became friends with sailors at the local harbor, and listened to their stories from distant countries. He studied medicine at the University of Copenhagen for a time, but he felt that the medical profession was not his true calling. Freuchen made his first expedition to Greenland in 1906, and then he took part in several expeditions from 1910 to 1924, often traveling with the famous Polar explorer Knut Rasmussen. On a journey accross the inland ice in 1912 he was almost killed. These experiences Freuchen recorded in Vagrant Viking (1953) and I Sailed with Rasmussen (1958).

After returning to Denmark from the first journey, he wrote articles for the newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, published serial stories in the magazine Familie-Journalen, and eventually received his M.A. from the university. With Knut Rasmussen he did lecture tours and worked as a reporter for the liberal newspaper Politiken. In 1910 in Greenland he collected articles for Danish museums and in 1913-20 he served as a governor of the colony at Thule. During these years he lived with the Inuits (or Eskimos as he writes), and shared their way of life. Freuchen's opinion of Christian missionaries was negative - he saw them trampling on the traditions of the Inuit people, without understanding them. In 1911 Freuchen married Mekupaluk, an Inuit woman, who started to use the name Navarana. She followed him on some of his later explorations. Navarana died in 1921 during an influenza epidemic. She was buried in Upernavik's old churchyard. Because Navarana was not baptized, the local church refused to participate in the burial and Freuchen himself undertook it. Freuchen settled down in Denmark, and bought himself a little island, Enhoje. In 1924 he married Magdalene Lauridsen, a margarine heiress; the marriage dissolved in 1944. GRØNLAND, LAND OG FOLK, his first book, appeared in 1927. STORFANGER, Freuchen's first novel, was published in the same year. In 1926 Freuchen got frostbite in his leg; the leg was amputated, and he could not continue his full-time career as an explorer. However, he still continued journeying. Providing his stories with fascinating details, Freuchen claimed to have witnessed polar bears' covering their black noses with their paws while hunting their prey. In 1932 Freuchen was again in Greenland

- this time his expedition was sponsored by American Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. Freuchen, who was big-boned and stood six feet seven inches in height, was an imposing figure, and also played a major role in the film Eskimo (1933), which depicted the life of an Eskimo hunter and his family.

Freuchen's first travel books appeared in the 1920s. Among his best-known works is FANGSTMÆND IN MELVILLEBUGTEN (1956), in which Freuchen describes his family life, his hunting on whaling ships on the sea or hunting seals and polar bears on the coast. Freuchen also recorded stories in which his Eskimo friends tell about their adventures. Also white men, who do not know how to survive in the arctic surroundings, were a constant source of stories for the natives. The conflict between different cultures is drawn with understanding and humour. With Navarana he visited Copenhagen; she was eager to see Freuchen's home land. However, she found it difficult to understand why any woman would live in Denmark - there are no seals or walruses and everybody must buy their food from a shop. She was especially enthusiastic about ballet. Freuchen's novel IVALU, EN ROMAN FRA POLARESKIMOERNES LAND (1930, Ivalu, the Eskimo Wife) was a tribute to Navarana. Ivalu is an Inuit girl, who hears stories of white men, and knows that they have a great lust for women. She meets Karl Boesen, called Bosi. After the death of Ivalu's husband, Mitserk, her new man Minik treats her badly. Eventually Bosi takes her as his wife. NORDKAPER (1929) tells a story of a polar whaling voyage and HVID MAN (1943) is a historical novel based on life in the Danish colony in Greenland in the early 1700s.After settling in Denmark in the 1920s, Freuchen joined the Social democrats and contributed to the newspaper Politiken. He also headed a film company. In the late 1930s Freuchen went to Siberia and wrote about his experiences in SIBIRISKE EVENTYR (1939). During World War II Freuchen worked for the Danish underground

- he was an outspoken anti-Nazi. He was captured by the Germans occupying his country and sentenced to death. Freuchen managed to escape to Sweden and from there to the United States.

In his new home Freuchen lived in New York City and maintained a country home in Connecticut. His third wife, Dagmar Cohn, was a fashion illustrator. Freuchen's son, half-Eskimo, who could not endure European life, returned back to Greenland; Pipaluk, his daughter was educated in Denmark. Freuchen died of a heart attack in Alaska, Elmendorf, on September 2, 1957. He was a member of the council of the Royal Danish Geographical Society and a fellow of the American Geographical Society. Among his later, highly popular works was Peter Freuchen's Book of the Seven Seas (1957).



-- Edited by Rabbie Downunder at 03:58, 2007-12-17


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