Thor Heyerdahl Roland Sawyer - Essay

Roland Sawyer

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Kon-Tiki] is a mystery story—although there is no crime beyond the polite defiance of "sound advice," no plot except a problem of long-distance transport by raft, no solution to an ethnological question that has intrigued men since Magellan, Querios, and Cook explored the Pacific Ocean. Here, too, is an adventure story—for it is an extraordinary record of men drifting 4,000 miles on the sea amidst unforeseen perils, under a world of stars. And here is fine descriptive writing.

Thor Heyerdahl sought evidence to support a theory. That seeking brought about as remarkable a journey as the 20th century has witnessed. It will be a rare reader who will be able to put the book down once he has read beyond the first page. For the author opens his exciting narrative midway through the 101-day odyssey of six men on a raft in the Pacific. And once aboard that raft, even for a few safe paragraphs, the reader can no more get off than could Heyerdahl and his companions, from the moment they were set adrift off the Peruvian coast until they were flung, raft and men, over the Raroia reef to safety in Polynesia….

Heyerdahl and his men were fortunate from beginning to end—but they deserved to be, as the log of the Kon-Tiki, the name given to the raft from a pre-Columbian sun-god, shows. It is from the log that this book is largely written, and while this is not the first time that a log has been turned into literature,...

(The entire section is 435 words.)