Roger Vercel: Boats built for men to live in, ships built to kill
From Aurora Borealis (1947)
Translated by Katherine Woods
When he caught sight of the boat from a distance, he paused. The ice-breaker had the placid appearance of a houseboat, with its sides broadened out so as to provide comfortable lodging for the men who were committing themselves to its care. One understood from looking at it that it would make no attempt at speed, that it offered nothing of the luxury of ocean liners, but that it promised a sure asylum where where men might warm themselves again after cold, where they might live. In the vicinity of the warships, this domestic aspect asserted itself all the more. The swelling curves that enveloped the boat for the ice-fields expanded still further by contrast with the sharp and arid lines of the ships that were built to kill.