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.)
" The Wild Places
boldly celebrates places that aren't supposed to exist, and does so in prose that is at times very nearly as vivid and beautiful as the thing itself."
" Prose as precise as this is not just evocative. It is a manifesto in itself. Macfarlane's language urges us to gaze more closely at the wonders around us, to take notice, to remind ourselves how thrillingly alive a spell in the wild can make us seem."
The Sunday Times (UK)
A formidable consideration by a naturalist who can unfurl a sentence poetry, really with the breathless ease of a master angler, a writer whose ideas and reach transcend the physical region he explores
the natural world swells with meaning through Macfarlanes devoted observations, which can be both minutely detailed and vast in scope
like the wild it parses, [this book] quietly returns us to ourselves.
The New York Times Book Review
Macfarlane brings these landscapes to pulsing life
His precision in apprehending the world is a salutary lesson in and of itself
His descriptions have created a new map of Britain and Ireland in my mind. And like pebbles in a pond, those descriptions are now altering the way I look at the world immediately around me.. this is the final gift of Macfarlanes wild places: they illuminate the wild wonder of our everyday world.
National Geographic Traveler
The Wild Places boldly celebrates places that arent supposed to exist, and does so in prose that is at times very nearly as vivid and beautiful as the thing itself.
Prose as precise as this is not just evocative. It is a manifesto in itself. Macfarlanes language urges us to gaze more closely at the wonders around us, to take notice, to remind ourselves how thrillingly alive a spell in the wild can make us seem.
The Sunday Times (UK)
?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.