"Mountains of the Mind" pursues an investigation into our emotional and imaginative responses to mountains, and how these have changed over the last few centuries. It is rich with literary and historical references, and punctuated by descriptions of the author's own climbing experiences. There are chapters on glaciers, geology, the pursuit of fear, the desire to explore the unknown and the desire to get to the summit, and the book ends with a gripping account of Mallory's attempt on Everest.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Three centuries ago, mountains were considered forbidding and forbidden?the abodes of dragons and other ill-tempered grotesque beasts. But with the growing recognition that the Earth?s surface had not been created once and for all but was slowly evolving, mountains came to be seen as the unexplored text of the Earth?s story?a terrain that scientists, adventurers, naturalists, and, finally, travelers began to explore. In Mountains of the Mind, Robert Macfarlane blends cultural history, meditation, and memoir to show how early geologists helped transform our perceptions of the wild, chaotic landscapes; how the allure of height increasingly drew fearless climbers, culminating in the romantic figure of George Mallory, the passionate Englishman who died on Mount Everest in 1924; and how the elemental beauty of snow and ice coalesced into an aesthetic of the sublime.
Mountains of the Mind is at once an enthralling work of history, an intimate account of Macfarlane?s own experiences, and a beautifully written meditation on how memory, landscape, imagination, and the landscape of mountains are joined together in our minds and under our feet.
From the Hardcover edition.
Robert Macfarlane is an academic at Cambridge University, with a passion for mountaineering. He reviews regularly for The Observer, the TLS and the New Statesman.
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