'Whether we climb them or view them from afar, they continue to pull at us, calling us home, those mountains'. So writes editor Gregory McNamee in his eloquent introduction to this compelling anthology of mountain-inspired literature from sources as varied and far-flung as the peaks themselves. The writings take all manner of literary forms: folktales, myths, essays, travelogues, and poetry of both ancient and modern times. We hear from familiar voices - Whitman, Muir, Chekhov, Conan Doyle - and from those not so familiar but equally fascinating, including Russian naturalist Nikolai Prejevalsky and English 'lady' adventurer Isabella Bird.The mountain experiences described in these works are enormously varied as well. They range from the powerful altitude-induced vision of Simon Bolivar atop Mount Chimborazo, to a Victorian-era pleasure trip in the Alps as recounted by Mrs. H.W. Cole, to V. K. Arseniev's tale of survival and rescue in a Siberian mountain storm. Yet whether they speak of profound spiritual journeys, easy pleasure trips, or face-to-face encounters with death, all these voices are raised in collective celebration of the glories and terrors of the most awe-inspiring of Earth's natural treasures.
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Gregory McNamee, former editor-in-chief of the University of Arizona Press, is a distinguished translator and editor and the author of many books, including In the Presence of Wolves and Gila: The Life and Death of an American River. He has also written more than eight hundred essays and reviews for such periodicals as Audubon, The Nation, and The Washington Post. McNamee lives in Tucson.
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