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The Wild Places Paperback – 7 Jul 2008
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"...a naturalist who can unfurl a sentence - poetry really - with the breathless ease of a master angler"
-- International Herald Tribune
"...this is beautiful as well as intelligent writing...a new naturalist to set beside the classics in our literature" -- The Evening Standard
"This beautiful book takes us to tree tops, beaches and mountains... in the company of a supremely lyrical writer" -- The Scotsman
"The Wild Places" is both an intellectual and a physical journey, and Macfarlane travels in time as well as space. Guided by monks, questers, scientists, philosophers, poets and artists, both living and dead, he explores our changing ideas of the wild. From the cliffs of Cape Wrath, to the holloways of Dorset, the storm-beaches of Norfolk, the saltmarshes and estuaries of Essex, and the moors of Rannoch and the Pennines, his journeys become the conductors of people and cultures, past and present, who have had intense relationships with these places.Certain birds, animals, trees and objects - snow-hares, falcons, beeches, crows, suns, white stones - recur, and as it progresses this densely patterned book begins to bind tighter and tighter. At once a wonder voyage, an adventure story, an exercise in visionary cartography, and a work of natural history, it is written in a style and a form as unusual as the places with which it is concerned. It also tells the story of a friendship, and of a loss. It mixes history, memory and landscape in a strange and beautiful evocation of wildness and its vital importance.See all Product description
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provoking, inspiring and a damn good read.
I envied the author for going to places I can only dream of now that I am growing old. I evidence him for his ability to explore these wonderful places so completely, man ability that would always have been beyond me. I envy him his wonderful knowledge of so many things, both in the natural and literary worlds. But most of all I envy him his wonderful skill at writing about all these things and weaving them into this fascinating tale of the wild places in the British Isles. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
To be balanced about this, if you live and work in the countryside, a similar pattern would emerge, beginning and ending every day with the first and last view being of a rural landscape.
But what about those who experience a mixture of the two?
I realised a few years ago that everywhere that I had lived from a child until now, although living in/on the edges of a town, I had always had a view of trees or hills or fields from my bedroom window. I might have lived and work (or gone to school) in a town, but the countryside was always a short walk away. I also realised that my parents individually/jointly had a similar experience when I thought back to where they had lived in their lifetimes.
In his book, Robert McFarlane feels drawn to travel from his urban home in Cambridgeshire to a selection of diverse rural environments of increasing challenge/contrast - hence "The Wild Places".
His experiences and reflections/connections made me think further about my relationship, reconciling urban living with a hankering for more remote rural environments, and whether this might be more than a random preference on my part.
Macfarlane writes in a comfortable, accessible style. Every paragraph is packed with fascinating information, not just on nature, geology and geography but about historic figures, other nature writers and personal friends. In particular he describes his friendship with the incomparable country writer Roger Deakin – author of Wildwood and Waterlogged.
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