A Woman in the Polar Night – Christiane Ritter

Austrian author Christiane Ritter wrote A Woman in the Polar Night in 1934, on her return to Austria from Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean. She spent a year in Spitsbergen with her husband (also a +1) in isolation, with almost no communication with the outside world. This book is a love letter for nature and an astonishing memoir that’ll be read for years to come.


It is definitely the right time to read this book as the weather is cold, and the nights are long. While reading it, I was thankful for all the amenities we have; especially the heating system and, access to clean water. But it also made me feel like an anomaly; disconnected from nature and missing all the essential things one has to witness.

A Woman in the Polar Night - Christiane Ritter

On the other hand, Christiane Ritter was a painter, so her descriptions of this strange landscape with its winds, snow, mountains, lights, animals, water, ice and ocean are beautiful and vivid. Her narrative will inspire you in so many ways. I know a lot of people who’d pack their bags to live in the Arctic after reading this. It is that powerful.

This classic travel memoir is still so much alive and connects with readers like no other. You won’t be able to put down and keep dreaming. A must-read!

I am conscious of the immense solitude around me. There is nothing that is like me, no creature in whose aspect I might retain a consciousness of my own self, I feel that the limits of my being are being lost in this all-too-powerful nature, and for the first time I have a sense of the divine gift of companionship.

Christiane Ritter

A Woman in the Polar Night

In 1934, the Austrian painter Christiane Ritter travels to the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen to spend a year with her husband, an explorer and researcher. They are to live in a tiny ramshackle hut on the shores of a lonely fjord, so hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement.
At first, Christiane is horrified by the freezing cold, the bleak landscape the lack of equipment and supplies… But as time passes, after encounters with bears and seals, long treks over the ice and months on end of perpetual night, so she finds herself falling in love with the Arctic’s harsh, otherworldly beauty, gaining a great sense of inner peace and a new appreciation for the sanctity of life.

Christiane Ritter

Born in 1897, Christiane Ritter was an Austrian artist and author. She wrote A Woman in the Polar Night on her return to Austria from Spitsbergen in 1934. It has since become a classic of travel writing, never going out of print in German and being translated into seven other languages. Christiane Ritter died in Vienna in 2000 at the age of 103.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

A Non-Fiction a Month

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