The third highest mountain in the world is called Kanchenjunga – until 1852 it had been considered the highest – and in 1931, it had never been climbed; indeed a book by Frank Smythe, the British climber, had been published in 1930 after an international (mainly Anglo-German) expedition he had led had failed and an avalanche had killed one, and narrowly avoided killing another member of the team. Now, in 1931, Dr. Paul Bauer, a German climber who had had to turn back in 1929, announced he had assembled another team for 1931 (it was destined to be a failure, resulting in four deaths. The mountain was not climbed until after Everest, in 1955). Following the news, Anthony Bertram requested a sonnet on the proposed ascent.
But oh dear. For the third week running, the competitors have to endure some shrapnel. ‘Do they still lie stupefied by their Xhristmas excesses? Or may I more politely suggest that the troubles of our dayu have turned their minds from poetry?’ Now for the explosion. Anthony Bertram finds the efforts ‘wallowing in a sea of platitide’. However, he doesn’t urge Gerald Barry to put the guineas back in the tin. Instead Seacape – who has not won, nor even featured much in dispatches, for thirty issues, returns to claim his two pounds and two shillings. J.R. is allowed second prize.
Paul Bauer wrote an account of his 1931 trip which fared rather better than these sonnets. Indeed it won an Olympic gold medal for literature in 1932 at the Los Angeles games! (Until 1952, there were five categories of art linked to sport that were eligible for medals.)
For 44B, you had to be aware of three events. The first was the start on January 7 1931 of a two month exhibition at the Royal Academy of Persian Art. You can see the catalogue online here. The second was ‘the Mosley memorandum’ – a statement issued by Oswald Mosley, then a Labour MP, in 1930 (he was to found “The New Party” in February 1931, and the following year, the British Union of Fascists. There is a good sumary on p. 328 of the document here. The third is the continuing struggle in China between Chang-Kai-Shek and the Communist Party, as wll as with members of his own divided Nationalist Party, and the complication of the intrusion of Japan: good brief summary here.
And then all you had to do was to find Shakespearean lines or couplets to describe each of them. Once again, competitors were leafing through their Collecteds. Here are the two winners, and, as you will see, W. Hodgson Burnet is starting to pull out all the stops, while R.O.Dougan gains second prize:
Robert Ormes Dougan is winning his first half-guinea here, but he was mentioned in the crossword competition (no. 23), where he came close, as being the future expert in the Book of Kells.