27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
One of the most influential books I have ever read.,
This review is from: Making of the English Landscape (Paperback)
For me, reading the Pelican edition in 1970 sparked a lifelong interest in the history, meaning and aesthetic of the landscape. Yes, it is 'parochial' in some ways - but if you're studying English local history the detail of a Parish (or a farm, or a field) is an appropriate unit of study. Yes. it has more to say about some places than others, but that's because it is based on painstaking personal observation and research. The magic of this little book is that by focussing on detail it gives a glimpse of the incredibly complex history of the use of the land and the relationship between our everyday surroundings and our history.
My only criticism is that in the final chapter Hoskins descends into some rather despondent criticism of change during his lifetime. Though many might agree about the insensitivity of post-war 'development', it's a shame that he couldn't see this to some extent in historical perspective, comparing it perhaps with the 'vandalism' of earlier townscapes by Georgian then Victorian developers. Not everything that happened to the landscape in the 20th Century was bad, though one can understand the concern of a historian that too much of the record was being lost, too quickly.
Buy this book, read it carefully and quietly and you might see your surroundings with new eyes. But to see the landscape as Hoskins saw it, you'll have to get out of the car and walk, stop, take your time, look, look again and be curious about what you see.