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Distance and Memory by [Davidson, Peter]
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Distance and Memory Kindle Edition

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Review

'I am savouring it, reading it slowly, hoping to prolong the pleasure of these exquisite essays through the summer. It is, I think, one of the most beautiful books to be written in Scotland for many decades.' --Alexander McCall Smith

'This is a poet's book, his mind wide open to the cultures of the world, especially of the north, specifically Aberdeenshire. The language is luscious, musical and precise, rich with quotation and the cultures of, especially, northern Europe, from minerology and industry to poetry, painting, music.' --Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales

'[Davidson] writes, we might say, in a northern vernacular, exactly responsive to its region, in which the specifics of terrain and weather are internalised as a kind of grammar. It is a style fine in its granulation, subtle in its shading and stricken throughout by a gentle melancholy.' --Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways

This week we're raving about Peter Davidson's new book Distance and Memory, a gorgeous piece of writing about place, in this case the north of Scotland. Robert Macfarlane is a big fan so it must be good. --Herald Magazine

About the Author

PETER DAVIDSON was born in Scotland in 1957 and is Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Aberdeen. He is the author of the topographical book The Idea of North (Reaktion, 2005); a monograph on the internationalism of the seventeenth century, The Universal Baroque (MUP, 2007); and a collection of poems, The Palace of Oblivion (Carcanet, 2008).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 730 KB
  • Print Length: 195 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1847771556
  • Publisher: Lives and Letters (27 Jun. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CR6O22C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #328,733 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
This is a book pervaded by the poignant sense of transience, fragility and loss that haunts human perceptions of the cultures and landscapes of the far north.

More than anything else, light and colour, shapes and textures, moments in time - present and gone - are the subjects of the book. The prologue ends, "The southern sky changed from overshadowed grey to cobalt half an hour ago, and the moon is rising while, to the north, the horizon still shows rags of cold azure behind the larch trees. But as I write, light and time and summer are unstill, and the instant has passed into memory even as it is described."

The ceaselessly changing weather is another constant theme. At the beginning of a chapter called Visits in Autumn, Davidson writes, "Wind rises in the dark, despoiling the gardens and sending needle-scratches of silver across the lake." How utterly different this is in mood to (in a later chapter) his account of the way a painting evokes, "... the first really warm day in spring , racing clouds high in the pale sky, and the water tinselled with sunlight."

The themes of Distance and Memory revolve around and spiral out from Davidson's own home - a remote house in Aberdeenshire. His acute observations of the seasons (it is the seasons that determine the structure of the book) are informed by an awareness of the quotidian stories woven into the landscape, and of lives, cultures and art-forms whose shapes and textures are dictated by a climate in which the brief plenty of a night-less summer alternates with protracted dearth, darkness and cold.

Underlying his sense of landscapes there is, too, an awareness of layer upon layer of history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Distance and Memory is not light reading but a wonderfully thoughtful evocation of place. It draws seemingly disparate threads together to weave a rich, historical tapestry of the North East of Scotland. Art, music and literature are all explored to distil the essence of bittersweet living in the Buchan area. To my mind, the author has been uniquely successful in conveying subtle, intangible and nostalgic memories.
It is quiet, contemplative reading, of the highest quality, to be savoured slowly.
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Format: Paperback
Hard to say how davidson achieves this effect: once you enter his realm in rural aberdeenshire it seems as if all that matters is the present tenseness of place, the now of where he takes us. A wonderful and exeptional book. Travelling through his year is not about passing through time but rooting around in a habitat of light and personal visions. An individual look at Scotland. But what a wonderful perspective of history, arts and landscape. If only there was more like this around.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book thoroughly. Peter Davidson's writing is incredibly evocative and you can easily find your way to everywhere he is in this book. Do yourself a huge favor and read it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is simply a beautiful book. In passages Peter Davidson's words and intelligence transport you to his northern study to gaze with him over a fading landscape, culture and light.
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