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Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape Paperback – 7 Jan 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Paperback, 7 Jan 1999
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (7 Jan. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860465838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860465833
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 297,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The European picture of the Arctic is usually of snow and ice: the inhospitability of the terrain and the frigid wastes of the tundra contribute to our incapacity to imagine ordinary life there. In this magisterial book Barry Lopez draws on this hazy understanding of the far north to provide a compelling account of the land and its hold upon the psyche.

It is a book which could be compared to Chatwin's The Songlines for its combination of travelogue and poetic vision. Yet the beauty of the prose and the thought-provoking evocations of modern culture's shifting relationship with the environment are in a league of their own. Here are sparkling descriptions of the lives of caribou, muskoxen, polar bears and narwhals, and extraordinarily moving passages which meditate on the nature of our relationship with the world, the inter-dependence of ideas, desire and science and the possibility of dignity and compassion in the contemporary world.

It is a measure of the respect which Lopez has for his subject that his book exemplifies the supreme importance which he ascribes to the ethics of respect in the face of all existential paradox:

"There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of a leaning into the light".
--Toby Green

Review

"The Arctic dreamland seen and described by a writer of rare perception and poetic descriptive power... The pages sparkle with Arctic light" (David Stephen Scotsman)

"A marvellous evocation of the Arctic by a naturalist, who is part poet... A magical book to read slowly and savour" (Gillian Somerville-Large Irish Times)

"Barry Lopez by some rare magic manages to combine a poetic vision with accuracy of observation; and although he writes mainly about Eskimos, polar bears, and other denizens of the frozen north, many of his perceptive insights apply the world over" (Paula Johnson Mail on Sunday)

"Dazzling... Treats the distant, snowy world of the Arctic as a place that exists not only in the mathematics of geography but also in the terra incognita of our imaginations" (Michiko Kakutani New York Times)

"By what comes close to sheer magic, the magic of a highly literate and perceptive naturalist, Barry Lopez has transformed the austerity and Sibelius-like gloom of the tundra and great ice walls into a living pageant of high latitudes. This book will become a classic within its genre" (John Hillaby)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book gives you a great insight into the Arctic wilderness and the animals which habit it. There is a good level of scientific content but it is so well written that you don't tend to notice it, although it wouldn't really count as light reading because to get the most out of it you have to concentrate. But still an amazing book and well worth the effort.
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Format: Paperback
A beautiful book. Takes quite a bit of concentrated reading but provokes deep thought and contemplation: well worth the effort
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By A Customer on 3 Jun. 1998
Format: Paperback
This is not just a great book about the Artic, but a handbook for how to move through and observe wilderness and areas of unspoiled natural beauty. Lopez knows more about the interdependence of the human and natural worlds than any other writer I know.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book about how to live a good life, how to believe, how to think outside the box we live in everyday. It's humbling and extraordinary. The sort of book you want everyone you care about to read.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1988 and was astounded. The chapter on ice and light is an incredible piece of work. I pulled it out again when a friend asked about the nature of magnetic north. 23 years after I read the book, I still remembered that there was a discussion of this in there. After looking through it, I am astounded again by its thoroughness and beauty.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have not read the whole book, but dipped into it for the insight
into inuit culture. It was excellent giving an awareness of a
whole different world of perception, how the inuit view the world
from inside their own being and project outwards.
It is thoughtful and well written.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Superb glimpse of life somewhere most of us will never venture to - or at least, not dwell for long.
From someone who has devoted much time and effort to understanding how people and animals survive in such regions.
Just buy and read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the world we live in. The book is fascinating in it's extensive treatment of diverse subjects - the history of the arctic including evolution of it's population, polar bears, narwhals, oil drilling, the history of exploration by explorers from the South and explorers from the North, the sky, the sea, the land and the ice. The book is written with passion, expertise and a profound knowledge.
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