Monday, March 28, 2011

Climbing Mount Everest: The Bibliography, by Salkeld & Boyle

I have been aware of Audrey Salkeld's and John Boyle's bibliography, Climbing Mount Everest, for quite some time, but was reticent to pick it up and read it too early in my Everest reading and blogging. It would have been all too easy to copy down everything they've done and make that my reading list (up to 1993, at least), but I think it would have felt too much like a guided ascent of this mountain of books. Now that I'm well into my project and have done quite a bit of my own research looking for Everest books, I feel like reading Climbing Mount Everest is more of a dialogue between fellow literary climbers, and I'm able to get some pointers from some more experienced researchers without feeling like they're taking me by the hand.

I've learned that I have a lot of languages to learn if I am going to read all the Everest books out there. Besides English, the number one language of Everest literature, I've got enough German to bumble through the books in the number two language, but I don't have any training in Japanese or Polish, the third and fourth most common languages for Everest books, according to Salkeld and Boyle. Besides these, there are books in French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Tibetan, Italian, Turkish, and many other languages. I don't have any intention of learning all of these, but I certainly intend to keep climbing to see where this adventure leads.

I've also learned that my research skills aren't half bad! I thought for sure that what I had dug up would comprise a small percentage of what was in this book, but I'm pleased to say that I've found most of the Everest books in English that Salkeld and Boyle did, and they really only have a major edge on me in languages that don't use Roman characters, such as Japanese and Polish. There are ways around knowing proper transliteration in foreign language research, and if I'm serious about my book lists, then I'm going to have to start seeking these titles out. In their bibliography, they also include promotional or educational booklets put out by expeditions for fund raising or lecturing that I do not intend to include on this blog.

In addition to a bibliography, Salkeld and Boyle include an expedition history for Everest, with cross-references to the books and journals that cover each expedition, as well as a separate section listing Everest-related journal articles. These were fun to read through: the first to get a sense of which expeditions get literary coverage and who's writing about them, and the second to see a wider demographic of authors, since it seems that a greater variety of people were trusted to write for journals and magazines than got to publish full-length books.

This is overall a great reference, though its publication in 1993 makes it somewhat out-of-date. I hope they come out with a second, updated edition. Otherwise, I may have to!


  1. Something I forgot to include, but that I've been thinking about lately: Salkeld and Boyle include all known editions of any given work in their bibliography. You should see the entry for Hunt's "Ascent of Everest!"

  2. Update! According to Tony Astill, in his "Mount Everest 1935," (2003) Salkeld is working on a new edition, tentatively to be called "Climbing Everest." I'm looking forward to it!