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The Language of Landscape

Spirn, Anne Whiston;Spirn, Anne

69 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0300077459 / ISBN 13: 9780300077452
Published by Cumberland, Rhode Island, U.S.A.: Yale Univ Pr, 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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hardcover in fine condition with fine dust jacket. signed by the author. Bookseller Inventory # 144094

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Language of Landscape

Publisher: Cumberland, Rhode Island, U.S.A.: Yale Univ Pr

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title


This eloquent and powerful book combines poetry and pragmatism to teach the language of landscape and thereby to avoid making profound aesthetic and environmental mistakes in landscape design. Using examples that range across thousands of years and five continents, Anne Spirn examines urban, rural, and natural landscapes and calls for change in the way we shape and respond to them.

"This remarkable book urges readers to understand the common language of landscape which speaks to all our senses every day. Primitive peoples lived closely within the landscape and instinctively understood that landscape was the source and matrix of their lives. Anne Spirn strives to describe the permutations of this shared language as a resource to enrich modern man`s dialogue with nature as well as with the man made landscape."--Lawrence Halprin, Fellow of the Americna Society of Landscape Architects

"Anne Whiston Spirn brings to her reading of landscapes the eye of an artist, the mind of a scholar, and the pen of a gifted writer. What she has produced is nothing less than a field guide for all who share her belief that the language of landscape is among the richest and most meaningful that any of us can ever hope to understand. The result is a triumph. There are a few books that have the power to change the way one sees the world. This is one of them."--William Cronon, Frederick Jackson Turner Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Landscape speaks to us. But how? Anne Spirn`s superb and unique achievement is to spell out the "how" so that we can better understand landscape`s variant dialects--its distinctive personalities--and respond intelligently, with appropriate emotion."--Yi-Fu Tuan, emeritus professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison



"The language of landscape," writes ecologist Anne Whiston Spirn, "is our native language." She elaborates: humans lived in natural landscapes well before they knew how to build houses; knew how to read the movements of clouds and birds well before they developed grammars and symbols. Anyone with a keen sensibility can recover that language, she suggests: "A person literate in landscape sees significance where an illiterate person notes nothing. Past and future fires, floods, landslides, welcome or warning are visible to those who can read them in tree and slope, boundary and gate." Spirn goes on to discuss human interactions with the landscape, taking as cases in point such matters as the dolmens of prehistoric Europe, environmentally friendly houses in Denmark and Australia, fountains in Paris, and tree-lined city streets in Philadelphia. Along the way she cites scholars, architects, and artists, learning lessons in how to read place and built form from the likes of Christopher Alexander, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Rachel Carson. She closes with an appeal to landscape architects, builders, and designers to study the natural details of place more closely before they set about changing it: "In landscapes ... the key is to establish a framework that provides overall structure--a structure not arbitrary but congruent with the deep context of a place, to define a vocabulary of forms that expresses the natural and cultural processes of the place." --Gregory McNamee

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