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The Other Landscape Paperback – 1 Mar 1998

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: House of Lochar; New edition edition (Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1899863265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1899863266
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 14 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,404,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

The central character of this complex novel is Menzies, a musical genius, who, after the agonies of a personal tragedy, questions the very meaning of existence. His emotional turmoil is seen through the eyes of a Scottish anthropologist returning to the Highlands and able to observe the life he finds there at two levels, the tangible and obvious level and 'the other landscape' beyond it.

Tensions between the local community and the outsiders at the Hotel - separate groups to both of which the anthropologist sometimes belongs - form a sub-plot of 'two cultures in conflict'. The action, both deeply tragic and ironically humorous, takes places against the backdrop of the remote coastal Highlands where the influence of nature and Celtic tradition propel the protagonists to their destiny.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"I came among the men and I saw the heaving boat. She was small and the two figures on the oars were slowly bending toys. They were pulling her to sea, with her nose just off the wind and Dan on the inside heavy oar. When the gust hit her the oars stopped and when its vicious whine passed she was closer in. Dan was striving to gain seaway sidewise like a crab in order to open the channel. Perhaps he had thought he would open it wide enough to work across the channel and so come under the lea of the island. He would never do that now. A hellish gust drove us back and then I heard Sam Mor roar. Because of the treachery of the wind near the cliff-head Charlie had been all but sucked over. By the grace of chance he had got a handhold and crawled back. Sam Mor cursed him for a young fool.
"When I got to my feet again she looked utterly helpless in the wallowing white-smitten seas....." from p.276

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Format: Paperback
This last novel from the pen of Neil Gunn rates, for me, among his best. In the familiar setting of the Highland hotel, he brings together a disparate group of visitors with the locals and fireworks fly both in words and action. The characterisations are superb and you are readily carried into the world of the highland countryside with its attendant trout fishing, at times inclement weather, and philosophical locals. The battle between the Major and Lachlan, his ghillie is brilliant; the interplay between the tragic and disturbed Menzies and the visitor Urquhart is absorbing; there are many more players in the story who come alive under Gunn's skils. The story moves quickly and does not lack energy; it is a complete story displaying all the colours of the writing spectrum necessary to produce a wonderful book that at times leaves you breathless. And beneath it all is the metaphysical stream, the other plane, the sometimes complex theme at which Gunn excels - but this does not detract from or prevent the book being read simply for a fine read. There is much to contemplate, much to enjoy and it wil demand at least a second read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
‘The Other Landscape’ is the last of Gunn’s ‘last’ books, his final novel and one of his least successful. There is an immediate problem in Gunn using a first person narrator. This makes it difficult for the reader to obtain a perspective on Walter Urquhart, the anthropologist narrator, and the events that Urquhart describes. The novel’s title refers to the search for a metaphysical ‘other landscape’ by Douglas Menzies, a musician. Gunn fails to communicate what this is, the insufferably long conversations between Urquhart and Menzies on the subject frequently reduced to gobbledygook. The book contains characters and situations that will remind readers of previous Gunn novels. Such is Gunn’s diminishment as an author it is only his description of the rescue of two men in a small boat in a severe storm that is on a par with what Gunn achieved in his earlier novels.

Stewart Robertson
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9449f5d0) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x944a1168) out of 5 stars Gripping stories leave enduring Highland society portrait 15 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
His last novel, this is typical of those which preceded it. Set in the Highlands of Scotland, it contains a cast typical from the 1920's through to the 1970's: locals struggling with a harsh land and sea, the more able youngsters leaving the community, the rawkous, the well-to-do hunting and fishing set from the South, the effects of economic dependency on them, and the more sympathetic academic visitors. It is an action story, a psychological drama (with some scenes evocative of William Golding's later, more extended treatment in "Pincher Martin"), a detective story, and a social commentary all in one, containing impressionistic character portraits, dry highland mirth, and gripping tragedy. A stong line of metaphysical speculation, pithy philosophical discussion, and acute observation of personal and group dynamics runs through the sub-plots. The title refers to the first of these since he gives more attention to the "other world" and tries to incorporate its "presence" more fully here than he had previously in his earlier works. Whether or not his rather self-concious treatment successfully parallels the celtic story-telling tradition, this doesn't diminish the book's worth.
For those familiar with the Highlands at that time, the value of the book is its masterful storytelling and suspense and the philosophical nuggets, even if the setting would now seem historical given recent changes. For those not familiar with the place and the people, it may take more effort to follow the allusion and the impressionistic sketches which he draws (a glossary for non-Scots is missing). The effort is worthwhile if one wants to understand the background to northern Scotland today.
HASH(0x94b9e8e8) out of 5 stars Gripping stories leave enduring Highland society portrait 15 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
His last novel, this is typical of those which preceded it. Set in the Highlands of Scotland, it contains a cast typical from the 1920's through to the 1970's: locals struggling with a harsh land and sea, the more able youngsters leaving the community, the rawkous, the well-to-do hunting and fishing set from the South, the effects of economic dependency on them, and the more sympathetic academic visitors. It is an action story, a psychological drama (with some scenes evocative of William Golding's later, more extended treatment in "Pincher Martin"), a detective story, and a social commentary all in one, containing impressionistic character portraits, dry highland mirth, and gripping tragedy. A stong line of metaphysical speculation, pithy philosophical discussion, and acute observation of personal and group dynamics runs through the sub-plots. The title refers to the first of these since he gives more attention to the "other world" and tries to incorporate its "presence" more fully here than he had previously in his earlier works. Whether or not his rather self-concious treatment successfully parallels the celtic story-telling tradition, this doesn't diminish the book's worth.
For those familiar with the Highlands at that time, the book will read like a nostalgic ride into the past given the radical changes which have taken place in the meantime. For those not familiar with the place and the people, it may take more effort to follow the allusion and the impressionistic sketches which he draws (a glossary for non-Scots is missing). The effort is worthwhile if one wants to understand the background to northern Scotland today.
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