River Map Hardcover – 1 Oct 2001
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River Map re-traces the exploratory journey undertaken by Jim Perrin - Telegraph columnist and author of award-winning books on mountaineering - from the mouth to the source of the well-known river Dee in north-east Wales. Far more than a physical record of the environment and habitat of the area, it is a highly personal and deeply probing account of the urge itself to discover in its many dimensions a region haunted by a long history of conquest and resistance. Jim Perrin also muses upon man's fascination with 'uncovering' - or at least witnessing - the mysteries of land and water, not least of which is the source itself of the river Dee. Complementing Jim Perrin's fluidly written story of the Dee are over 40 colour photographs taken by his artistic collaborator John Beatty. Like the text itself, the photographs are far more than merely descriptive representations of the journey to the river's source. They offer what could be called a truly aesthetic testimony to the beauty of the journey and also to man's ongoing fascination with such journeys.Born and brought up in post-war Manchester, Jim Perrin found a classic escape from city life in rockclimbing, and has since become a pioneer in the field. His biography of Menlove Edwards won the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountaineering Literature and his essays on rockclimbing have been acclaimed as among the best writing on the subject. His books include Menlove, Mirror in the Cliffs, Visions of Snowdonia, On and Off the Rocks and Yes, to Dance. Spirits of Place, published by Gomer Press, appeared in 1997. Jim Perrin has lived in Wales for over thirty years, working as a guide, shepherd and writer.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is most certainly a book about a spiritual journey, and a philosophical one inspired by writers, poets and philosophers. It is also a book purportedly about nature, or it has been descibed as nature writing. This is only true so far as it seeks to conform to an idea of a literary tradition. In truth this book, and Perrin's style, are deeply problematic. I found that it was far too personal, it dwelt too long on one man's narrow and compromised view of nature, and the way he placed those views onto it. There is also an assumption of spirituality and nature that is, philosophically, less than rigorous.
Overall, I found that the reasons the previous reviewer liked the book, are also more than capable of being its major stumbling blocks. If you want a safe nature text that relies heavily on literary quotations; that tries to live up to the worn-out philosophies of Thoreau; one that assumes religion and nature are symbiotic, then by all means buy it.
If you want a mature, rigorous, impartial, and studied nature book, then look elsewhere (Kathleen Jamie's 'Findings' is probably the best place).
But the journey is not just a physical one: the author Jim Perrin (rockclimber and writer) is also taking us on a symbolic and spiritual quest for wholeness and renewal. The river shimmers with all kinds of meanings and associations - it's a means of therapy and a gateway to discovery, a place where inner and outer landscapes merge, and in the end becomes "the flow of love itself".
The lyrical text meanders like the river from one emotion to another, from literary quotation to historical allusion, from observations on birds, beasts and flowers to a passionate encounter in a country churchyard. Above all the book celebrates the mysterious beauty of the natural world and is an indictment of the way we treat nature (and ourselves as part of nature) when greed and corruption squeeze out love and morality. But it's also about the joy of friendship and the comfort of solitude, the pleasure of good beer and cheery barmaids...and many other things, sublime and mundane.
I can really recommend this book. It forms part of the whole writing tradition of literary pilgrims and travellers (such as Borrow and Belloc) and nature philosophers like Thoreau. Also the photographs taken by John Beatty which accompany and complement the text are superb.