"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.
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(198mm x 129mm x 24mm)
Publisher: Granta Books
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US Kirkus Review »
Award-wining Macfarlane (Mountains of the Mind, 2003) celebrates Great Britain's remaining wilderness.Setting out from his home in Cambridge to explore the forests, mountains and rivers of his native land, the author was inspired by the Scottish explorer and mountain climber W.H. Murray (1913 - 96). The Glasgow-born Murray sustained himself during three years in World War II prison camps by writing about beloved wild places on sheets of toilet paper that eventually became the book Mountaineering in Scotland. Following Murray's admonition that "secret things awaited inquiry," Macfarlane explored varied areas. He visited the remote and serene island of Ynys Enlli in North Wales, once home to generations of Christian monks and still a refuge for hundreds of species of migrating birds. He trod the deeply worn holloways, or sunken roads, cut into the Dorset countryside by cartwheels and hooves over the centuries. He investigated the Burren region of northern County Clare, Ireland, a landscape of limestone graced with both hardy plants and funerary monuments dating back thousands of years. A keen observer and accomplished writer, Macfarlane does a splendid job of conveying the look and feel of these wild places and draws on wide reading in science and literature to anchor them in nature and the imagination. He encountered the "disinterest" of a mountain, Ben Hope, on a cold winter night; loch-filled valleys forming sanctuaries where time was expressed in shades and textures; and the "wilding quality" of darkness in the Cumbrian mountains. "Wildness weaved with the human world," he came to realize, "rather than existing only in cleaved-off areas." For all the loss of nature in densely populated Britain, it remained resurgent and irrepressible in the most unexpected places. "The sheer force of ongoing organic existence," Macfarlane writes, can be found on a tiny woodland at the city's edge or on a mountaintop.Evocative and well-written, a delight for nature and travel buffs. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Robert Macfarlane
Robert Macfarlane's Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination (2003), won the Guardian First Book Award, The Somerset Maugham Award, and The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and was filmed by the BBC. It was also short-listed for the Ondaatje Prize for the Literature of Place, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Boardman-Tasker Prize for Mountaineering Literature, the Banff Mountain Literature Award, and long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. It was acclaimed as 'one of the two most important books written around the experience of mountains in the past fifty years'. Robert Macfarlane is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He lives in Cambridge with his family.