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Landmarks (Landscapes) Paperback – 5 May 2016
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Publisher's description. The number one bestselling book from the author of The Old Ways. This is a celebration of the unique relationship between language and place; a field guide to nature writers from Roger Deakin to Nan Shepherd; and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable, poetic, funny, peculiar and endangered words to describe the natural world. (Penguin)
Thoughtful and lyrical writing . . . It's gorgeous (Katy Guest Independent on Sunday)
Enormously pleasurable, deeply moving . . . Landmarks is both a bid to save our rich hoard of landscape language, and a blow struck for the power of a deep creative relationship to place (Financial Times)
His writing has a confidence and enjoyment, a passionate purpose . . . he celebrates our vast, but evaporating, vocabulary for the landscape(Daily Telegraph)
A story like this is salutary...Landmarks is a book that ought to be read by policymakers, educators, armchair environmentalists and active conservationists the world over. (Guardian)
The writing is full of clarity and internal reflections and the chapters ripple over into each other like a linked chain of mountain pools.... What is remarkable about these words is how precise they are, and how deeply local. They feel as if they somehow grew out of the land itself. A delight. (Sunday Times Magazine)
The mood is one of celebration... [Landmarks is] the product of an active academic intelligence and emotional generosity, irradiated by a profound sense of wonder... Few books give such a sense of enchantment; it is a book to give to many, and to return to repeatedly (Independent)
From the Inside Flap
Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe land, nature and weather.
Travelling from Cumbria to the Cairngorms, and exploring the landscapes of Roger Deakin, J. A. Baker, Nan Shepherd and others, Robert Macfarlane shows that language, well used, is a keen way of knowing landscape, and a vital means of coming to love it.
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MacFarlane unearths all sorts of words for different natural occurrences and introduces us to some of his favourite nature writers.
He rails against the loss of nature vocabulary to the point where the mainstream has been left with dull generic terms like field, hedge, wood, hill etc.
There is a rich body of words out there from sailors, farmers, shepherds, trekkers and country folk and Macfarlane's aim is to document these before they are lost forever.
One of the words I've taken from it is 'smeuse' - a Sussex term for a small worn away tunnel or entrance in a hedge caused by a creature going back and forth.
MacFarlane makes the point that by giving things a name we are more likely to notice them, look out for them - meaning the way we experience nature is enhanced.
A truly enjoyable, life-affirming work
Between the glossaries are essays on the works of other outdoors writers, most of whom Mr MacFarlane seems to have known. Part memoir and part book review, these are of varying interest but readable and beautifully written.
I recommend to all who love words and the countryside.
It is a huge topic and the book is comprehensive and beautifully written. A work of love
Otherwise, I enjoyed the book as well as meeting authors I had not heard of before.
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