Friday, September 20, 2013


From: The Book Blog

"[…] Like [Robert Louis] Stevenson I am a cartophiliac, and because of Stevenson I am an islomaniac. Maps fire my mind because they offer—as Rosita Forbes put it—'the magic of anticipation without the toil and sweat of 'realization.'
     They give you seven-league boots, allowing you to cover miles in seconds. On a map, visibility is always perfect. Tracing the line of a walk with the point of a pencil, you can float over gorges and marshes, leap cliff-faces at a single bound, and ford spating rivers without getting wet. My father taught me how to read maps, such that landscapes would rise magically out of them. A snarl of contours became a saw-toothed ridge or gouged corrie, a break in the hachures implied a sea-cove on which we might safely land a rowing boat. After reading Stevenson, I sought out the work of other island-writers: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, John Fowles’s The Magus, and D.H. Lawrence’s extraordinary The Man Who Loved Islands, set on a nameless islet four miles in circumference, with two hills at its centre, gorse and blackthorn scrubbing its rocky fields, and cowslips thronging the verges.
     I began to devise and map my own ideal islands. There was a black-rock skerry somewhere in the North Atlantic, in whose lighthouse I would over-winter and around which, during the biggest storms, vast waves would whitely fold. […]"
— Robert Macfarlane, More Intelligent Life
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