Wild Places

( 2 )

Overview

'An eloquent (and compulsively readable) reminder that, though we're laying waste the world, nature still holds sway over much of the earth's surface.'
?Bill McKibben

Are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? That is the question that Robert Macfarlane poses to himself as he embarks on a series of breathtaking journeys through some of the archipelago's most remarkable landscapes. He climbs, walks, and swims by day and ...

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The Wild Places

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Overview

'An eloquent (and compulsively readable) reminder that, though we're laying waste the world, nature still holds sway over much of the earth's surface.'
?Bill McKibben

Are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? That is the question that Robert Macfarlane poses to himself as he embarks on a series of breathtaking journeys through some of the archipelago's most remarkable landscapes. He climbs, walks, and swims by day and spends his nights sleeping on cliff-tops and in ancient meadows and wildwoods. With elegance and passion he entwines history, memory, and landscape in a bewitching evocation of wildness and its vital importance. A unique travelogue that will intrigue readers of natural history and adventure, The Wild Places solidifies Macfarlane's reputation as a young writer to watch.

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Editorial Reviews

Rebecca Solnit
The Wild Places boldly celebrates places that aren't supposed to exist, and does so in prose that is at times very nearly as vivid and beautiful as the thing itself.
Sunday Times (UK)
Prose as precise as this is not just evocative. It is a manifesto in itself. Macfarlane's language urges us to gaze more closely at the wonders around us, to take notice, to remind ourselves how thrillingly alive a spell in the wild can make us seem.
Publishers Weekly

In this eloquent travelogue, Macfarlane (Mountains of the Mind) explores the last undomesticated landscapes in Britain and Ireland in a narration that blends history, memoir and meditation. Macfarlane journeys to salt marshes, mountaintops, forests, beaches, constantly expanding and refining his understanding of wildness. Walking a Lake District ridge at night, he observes that "with the stars falling plainly far above, it seemed to me that our estrangement from the dark was a great and serious loss." Crossing a moor, he finds its vastness and "resistance to straight lines of progress" analogous to the inability of mere words to convey a landscape's variety and immensity. Nonetheless, Macfarlane's language is as surprising and precise as his environments, with such evocative phrases as "heat jellying the air," "ice lidded the puddles" and descriptions of birds that "gild" a tree and the sky as "a steady tall blue." His striking prose not only evokes each locale's physicality in sensuous, deliberate detail, it glows with a reverence for nature in general and takes the reader on both a geographical and a philosophical journey, as mind-expanding as any of his wild places. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Award-wining Macfarlane (Mountains of the Mind, 2003) celebrates Great Britain's remaining wilderness. Setting out from his home in Cambridge to explore the forests, mountains and rivers of his native land, the author was inspired by the Scottish explorer and mountain climber W.H. Murray (1913-96). The Glasgow-born Murray sustained himself during three years in World War II prison camps by writing about beloved wild places on sheets of toilet paper that eventually became the book Mountaineering in Scotland. Following Murray's admonition that "secret things awaited inquiry," Macfarlane explored varied areas. He visited the remote and serene island of Ynys Enlli in North Wales, once home to generations of Christian monks and still a refuge for hundreds of species of migrating birds. He trod the deeply worn holloways, or sunken roads, cut into the Dorset countryside by cartwheels and hooves over the centuries. He investigated the Burren region of northern County Clare, Ireland, a landscape of limestone graced with both hardy plants and funerary monuments dating back thousands of years. A keen observer and accomplished writer, Macfarlane does a splendid job of conveying the look and feel of these wild places and draws on wide reading in science and literature to anchor them in nature and the imagination. He encountered the "disinterest" of a mountain, Ben Hope, on a cold winter night; loch-filled valleys forming sanctuaries where time was expressed in shades and textures; and the "wilding quality" of darkness in the Cumbrian mountains. "Wildness weaved with the human world," he came to realize, "rather than existing only in cleaved-off areas." For all the loss of nature in densely populatedBritain, it remained resurgent and irrepressible in the most unexpected places. "The sheer force of ongoing organic existence," Macfarlane writes, can be found on a tiny woodland at the city's edge or on a mountaintop. Evocative and well-written, a delight for nature and travel buffs. Agent: Jessica Woollard/The Marsh Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143113935
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/24/2008
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 366,609
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Macfarlane is a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. His first book, Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit, won a number of prizes in England and was a New York Times Notable Book. He has contributed to numerous publications including The Times Literary Supplement and The London Review of Books.

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Table of Contents

1 Beechwood 1

2 Island 19

3 Valley 43

4 Moor 63

5 Forest 85

6 River-mouth 113

7 Cape 131

8 Summit 151

9 Grave 159

10 Ridge 189

11 Holloway 213

12 Storm-beach 239

13 Saltmarsh 269

14 Tor 299

15 Beechwood 311

Selected Readings 323

Acknowledgements 329

Index 331

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2008

    A reviewer

    Macfarlane, a naturalist and Fellow of Emmanuel College Cambridge emerged me in a world I had no idea existed. This quote early on gives a good picture of what the book attempts to do, ¿¿ as I traveled¿ I would draw up a map to set against the road atlas. A prose map that would seek to make some of the remaining wild places of the archipelago visible again, or that would record them before they vanished for good.¿ Now this is a book that I would not normally read, but as I got into it, I found some amazing research and an unparalleled John Muir like enthusiasm for bucolicism 'if that¿s a word'. Macfarlane is the type of narrator that weaves prose descriptions of landscapes with his own imaginative journey through the wild and gives quite an unusual perspective on cartography. He also has some fun adventures. For instance, when you¿re reading in your head you¿re saying, 'wow that river must be freezing, you know the one with ice floating on it?' And the next sentence Macfarlane is stripping down naked and jumping into it. I became familiar with places in the UK that may present themselves in my upcoming summer travels and for that I am thankful. The touching story about his friend and fellow adventurer Roger was a great personal detail. I¿m also very impressed with the ending, because it was truly a beautiful scene, when Macfarlane returns to his office in ¿civilization¿ and reflects and arranges his ebenezers in full circle.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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