RIP: Maurice Herzog one of my inspiratrions

As anyone who reads this blog will know, my writing when done in such short quick burst is appalling. I was as a teenager something of a non-reader, no books ever inspired me to pick up a book and read it cover to cover. I was going to fail GCSE English and so my parents decided to get my neighbour a retired school teacher to tutor me. He essentially tried to teach me to write properly and found several books that I still have to this day.

One was ‘We Die Alone‘ a true story that makes touching the void look like your average walk in the park. Another was Annapura by Maurice Herzog, I wasn’t even a climber back then but there was something about it that instantly capture my teenage imagination. It is one of my favourite quotes from any books I have read and it happens to be a preface to his book about the expedition. It has been years since I read it but his passing away means I may try and dig out the copy I have for a walk down memory lane.

The quote is:

“In overstepping our limitation, in touching the extreme boundaries of man’s world, we have come to know something of its true splendor. In my worse moments of anguish, I seemed to discover the deep significance of existence of which till then I had been unaware. I saw it was better to be true than to be strong. The mark’s of the ordeal are apparent on my body. I was saved and I have won my freedom. This freedom, which I shall never lose, has given me the assurance and serenity of a man who has fulfilled himself. It has given me a rare joy of loving that which I used to despise. A new splendid life has opened out before me.”

I will of course never be able to match a man like this in words or deeds, but the joy of reading and exploring the world through literature is something that I, in part owe to him. I do get a joy from my writing and I hope as I draw ever closer to finishing my first non-fiction book of all words and no pictures that some of you out there enjoy those words as well.

If you have not ever read Annapura, then maybe it is time that you did.

A friend of mine Ed Douglas has written a obituary on Maurice Herzog for the Guardian on him. You can follow Ed on twitter @calmandfearless

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