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The Perfumier and the Stinkhorn [Hardcover]

Richard Mabey
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 April 2011
In these elegant, short essays, revered nature writer Richard Mabey attempts to marry a Romantic's view of the natural world with that of the meticulous observations of the scientist. By Romanticism, he refers to the view that nature isn't a machine to be dissected, but a community of which we, the observers, are inextricably part. And that our feelings about that community are a perfectly proper subject for reflection, because they shape our relationship with it. Scientists eshew such a subjective response, wanting to witness the natural world exactly, whatever feelings subsequently follow. Our feelings are an extension of our senses - sight, taste, smell, touch and sound - and here, in a sextet of inspiring meditations, Mabey explores each sensory response in what it means to interact with nature. From birdsong to poetry, from Petri-dish to microscope, this is a joyful union of meandering thoughts and intimate memories.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (14 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846684072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846684074
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 18.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Nature writing at its best' --Independent on Sunday

Book Description

Inspiring meditations through the author's rich store of memories

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Mabey masterpiece 5 July 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This little gem is a collection of talks given by Richard Mabey on the BBC and here turned into essays that can be carried around and read and re-read. Mabey takes the senses - 5 of them plus what he calls the map of the world. This last he tries to describe as a sense of direction that comes from pottering around in nature. He then endeavours to explain "how powerful our unassisted senses are when guided by the imagination". I am now an addict for Mabey's writing and try to purchase everything he publishes. This book was a surprise as I had heard the talks on 'iplayer', but was so pleased at the perfect production of this little volume - delightful cover, creative illustrations by Michael Kirkman and, of course, Mabey's sublime literary discourse on his subjects - as the blurb says: to marry a Romantic's view of the natural world with the meticulousness of the scientitst. Profile Books have produced a small wonder.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Scientist and the Romantic. 30 May 2011
By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This short book - only 110 pages - contains 6 chapters, each devoted to an investigation of how the senses help us interact with and understand the natural world.

At first I had a rather unfortunate sense of déjà vu as I read the first few pages of the book. Here were the Barn Owl, the Field behind Mabey's old home and John Clare - all subjects that he has covered elsewhere. But the book soon moves into fresher areas.

In essence this book is a plea for people to understand that romance, or at least flights of imagination, is a vital part of scientific discovery. Mayey makes the case for the idea that feeling and understanding are linked, and that while we can sail too close to the wind in terms of imposing our feelings and reactions on to the natural world, the very least we can do is admit that we can never really be impartial observers.

An excellent little book on a worthwhile subject.

Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mabey's books are always a delight to read 13 Dec 2011
Format:Hardcover
A collection of short meditations considering how our senses -- sight, taste, smell, sound and touch -- influence our interactions with, and attitudes towards, Nature. Mabey's books are always a delight to read, and this melange of scientific reflection and personal memories is no exception.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Richard Mabey is a naturalist whose analytical scientific training is married with a personality which is of a strong feeling, imaginative tone, which causes his relationship with the natural world to be strongly congruent with the sense of dynamic mystery in nature which infuses the poetry of the Romantics and Metaphysicals.

Or, as Mabey himself puts it, in a more sensuous, impassioned and precise manner:

When I'm occasionally called a `Romantic naturalist' I wonder whether it's an accusation as much as a description : the meticulous observations of the natural scientist corrupted by my overheated imagination: objectivity compromised by my Romantic insistence on making feelings part of the equation...................nature isn't a machine to be dispassionately dissected, but a community of which we, the observers, are inextricably part. And that our feelings about that community are a perfectly proper subject for reflection, because they shape our relationship with it"

For me Mabey's writings on the natural world are as perfect as they can get. Analytical observation and objective research reins in the tendency to become febrile with ineffable meaning, and the sense of the numinous ever present prevents a dissection which kills the essence it is trying to understand.

In this short and rich book, he examines the natural world through the five senses and that `sixth sense' which he calls a sense of location or place, which may be linked to a felt sense of the earth's magnetic field.

Each chapter, with its marriage of fact and, not fancy, but feeling about fact presents rich food for thoughtful visioning.
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