Synopses & Reviews
From the father of English nature writing: a superb selection of essays about rural England in the 1800s, with an introduction by the celebrated writer Richard Mabey
Richard Jefferies was the most important and imaginative observers of the natural world in the nineteenth century. Trekking across the English countryside, he recorded his responses to everything from the texture of an owl's feather and 'noises in the air' to the grinding hardship of rural labor.
This fantastic selection of his essays and articles shows a writer who is brimming with intense feeling, acutely aware of the land and those who work on it, and often ambivalent about the countryside. Who does it belong to? Is it a place, an experience, or a way of life? In these passionate and idiosyncratic writings, almost all our current ideas and concerns about rural life can be found.
Celebrated nature writer Richard Mabey's introduction to his selection of Jefferies' work discusses the author's life, his views on the paradoxes of rural life, and his place in the tradition of nature writers, and helps us see Jefferies in a whole new way.
"In this eloquent travelogue, Macfarlane (Mountains of the Mind) explores the last undomesticated landscapes in Britain and Ireland in a narration that blends history, memoir and meditation. Macfarlane journeys to salt marshes, mountaintops, forests, beaches, constantly expanding and refining his understanding of wildness. Walking a Lake District ridge at night, he observes that 'with the stars falling plainly far above, it seemed to me that our estrangement from the dark was a great and serious loss.' Crossing a moor, he finds its vastness and 'resistance to straight lines of progress' analogous to the inability of mere words to convey a landscape's variety and immensity. Nonetheless, Macfarlane's language is as surprising and precise as his environments, with such evocative phrases as 'heat jellying the air,' 'ice lidded the puddles' and descriptions of birds that 'gild' a tree and the sky as 'a steady tall blue.' His striking prose not only evokes each locale's physicality in sensuous, deliberate detail, it glows with a reverence for nature in general and takes the reader on both a geographical and a philosophical journey, as mind-expanding as any of his wild places. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
?An eloquent (and compulsively readable) reminder that, though we?re laying waste the world, nature still holds sway over much of the earth?s surface.?
Are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? That is the question that Robert Macfarlane poses to himself as he embarks on a series of breathtaking journeys through some of the archipelago?s most remarkable landscapes. He climbs, walks, and swims by day and spends his nights sleeping on cliff-tops and in ancient meadows and wildwoods. With elegance and passion he entwines history, memory, and landscape in a bewitching evocation of wildness and its vital importance. A unique travelogue that will intrigue readers of natural history and adventure, The Wild Places solidifies Macfarlane?s reputation as a young writer to watch.
Are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? That is the question that Macfarlane poses to himself as he embarks on a series of breathtaking journeys through some of the archipelago's most remarkable landscapes. Illustrated.
About the Author
RICHARD JEFFERIES (1848-1887) was the father of English nature writing, authoring many nonfiction books and essays about the subject. He also wrote several novels, including the classic children's book Bevis
and the apocalyptic science-fiction novel After London
RICHARD MABEY (editor/introducer) is the author of more than thirty books, which have won the English National Book Award and been finalists for the Whitbread, the Ondaatje, and the J. R. Ackerley prizes. He writes for the Guardian, New Statesman, and Granta, and contributes frequently to BBC radio. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011.