Wonderful Ed Caeser on the popularity of endurance-literature:
For most people in the western world, running a marathon is the ultimate challenge — it’s the product of months of aches, blisters, fund-raising and the obsessive Instagramming of muddy trainers. Chris Brasher, one of the co-founders of the London Marathon, often called the race “the great suburban Everest”. But for Mutai, and for many like him, the tough part was arriving at the start line.
And he continued,
I have no idea what readers will make of my own book, Two Hours, about the quest to break the two-hour marathon, but I have spent considerable time thinking about why such stories are attractive, and what kind of endurance we’re really interested in. One easy explanation for the success of the endurance-lit phenomenon is that it’s more enjoyable to read about great hardship than to experience it. Because of the disparity between the circumstances of the characters and those of the reader, the process becomes something like a benign version of schadenfreude. It is a double pleasure: not only are you mercifully not there (the freezing mountain, the unforgiving jungle, the final mile of a race) but you are guiltlessly and assuredly here (filling an armchair, warmed by single malt, kids asleep).
I think we need a different word than Schadenfreude for this, which implies maliciousness. Perhaps, Abenteuerzeuge?