The Idea of North by Peter Davidson, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Idea of North

Idea of North

by Peter Davidson
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

While a compass might tell us which direction we are going, there is really only one direction to which it ever points: north. North is the ultimate point of orientation, but it is also a celebrated destination for the adventurous, the curious, the solitary, and the foolhardy. In this fascinating book—updated in this accessible, pocket edition—Peter

Overview

While a compass might tell us which direction we are going, there is really only one direction to which it ever points: north. North is the ultimate point of orientation, but it is also a celebrated destination for the adventurous, the curious, the solitary, and the foolhardy. In this fascinating book—updated in this accessible, pocket edition—Peter Davidson explores the concept of “north” through its many manifestations in painting, legend, and literature.
           
Arctic bound, Davidson takes the reader on a journey from the heart of society to the most far-flung outposts of human geography, packing in our rucksacks a treasure trove of stories and artworks, from the Icelandic Sagas to Nabokov’s snowy kingdom of Zembla, from Hans Christian Andersen’s forbidding Snow Queen to the works of artists such as Eric Ravilious, Ian Hamilton Finlay, and Andy Goldsworthy. He celebrates the different ways our artists and writers have illuminated our relationship with the earth’s most dangerous and austere terrain. Through Davidson’s astonishing but inviting erudition, we ultimately come to see north as a permanent goal, frozen forever on a horizon we never seem to quite reach. 

Editorial Reviews

Scotland on Sunday - Richard Price

"What is the North? Although it’s almost always that bit further from wherever you happen to be, Peter Davidson’s new study manages to pin down its elusive cultural quality for long enough to offer new insights and lyrical evocations."
Aberdeen Evening Express

"A truly stunning assessment of the concept of 'north' in literature, legend, history and the psyche of "Northern" people. Why do some places feel 'northern'? Peter Davidson writes with an incredible sense of place in the North-east of Scotland."
Times Literary Supplement - Tom Shippey

"An interesting meditation."
The Observer - Jane Perry

"The idea of north clearly inspires strong passion in Davidson, who never lets his learning cloud his enthusiasm for this wide and protean subject and his writing shares the awe of the poets who preceded him on this journey."
The Glasgow Herald - Melanie Reid

"this delightful, original work could only spring from someone who nurtures within a a strong sense of what he writes . . . an esoteric but important gem; original treasure from the north . . . The spiritual equivalent of a large slice of chocolate cake: unexpected, satiating, fulfilling. Suddenly, those cold, high places don't seem so lonely after all."
The Scotsman - Tom Adair

"Davidson's style . . . achieves a lyrical elegance of phrase. . . . he achieves a marvel of descriptiveness that is moving as well as expressive of something irreducibly 'north', yet universal."
The Independent - Christina Hardyment

"Besides being a discriminating critic, Davidson has an arrestingly personal voice . . . The Idea of North is one of those books that have you making a long list of references you want to follow."
Ruminator

"The charm of the book is its exhaustiveness, zooming into a variety of touchstones to show how they've influenced global culture in sly, often surprising ways. . . . The Idea of North is an exhausting book, but in the best sort of way. Davidson tackles so many different ideas about north-ness, both sympathetic and contradictory, that the writing accrues meaning and value as it goes along. . . . Davidson's north is an enormous challenging land: humbling, shifting, austere, empty, fragile, desolate, desolating, marginal, authentic—a place, as Davidson perfectly puts it, forever suffused with 'absolute, difficult beauty.'"

The Guardian

"Davidson is as interesting writing about snow sculptures and 17th-century paintings of the Arctic as he is about Auden, and his reading of the imaginary land of Zembla in Nabokov's Pale Fire as an enternal, symbolic north is highly evocative...a lovely book"

London Review of Books

"The nearer he gets to the North of England and Scotland the more deeply felt his writing becomes. . . . Marvellously sensitive."

Discover - Verlyn Klinkenborg

"This is a book about poetry, myth, and art, and the myriad ways in which artists, poets, and explorers have filtered the north's stark natural splendor through their imaginations. . . . Davidson has compiled an extraordinary catalog of the shapes the north has taken in the minds of humans. . . . A work of genuine erudition, guiding readers northward out of their home ground and into unknown territory."
Times Higher Education Supplement - Max Jones

"Provocative. . . . Davidson's evocative prose and sensitive analyses of an impressive range of sources heighten the reader's appreciation of the rich complexity of humanity's imagined Norths."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781861892300
Publisher:
Reaktion Books, Limited
Publication date:
04/15/2005
Series:
Reaktion Books - Topographics Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.15(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Peter Davidson is Fellow of Campion Hall at the University of Oxford. He is the author of a book of essays about northern culture, Distance and Memory, a collection of verse, The Palace of Oblivion, and a book about twilight, The Last of the Light, the latter published by Reaktion Books.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >