Spirit of Place
When we look at the landscape, what do we see? Do we experience the view over a valley or dappled sunlight on a path in the same way as those who were there before us? We have altered the countryside in innumerable ways over the last thousand years, and never more so than in the last hundred. How are these changes reflected in – and affected by – art and literature?
Spirit of Place offers a panoramic view of the British landscape as seen through the eyes of writers and artists from Bede and the Gawain-poet to Gainsborough, Austen, W. G. Sebald and Barbara Hepworth. Shaped by these distinctive voices and evocative imagery, Susan Owens describes how the British landscape has been framed, reimagined and reshaped by each generation. Each account or work of art, whether illuminated in a manuscript, jotted down in a journal or constructed from sticks and stones, holds up a mirror to its maker and their world.
With 80 illustrations
'Engaging ... much of the pleasure of this book - and it is immensely pleasurable - comes from the author's own enjoyment and her sympathy with her subjects' - Jenny Uglow, Times Literary Supplement 'Original and wide-ranging' - Best Art Books of 2020, Sunday Times 'A wonderfully deft and varied study, full of voices, noticings, and contrasting ways of looking. Owens has a gift for making the past feel so close that we might be riding over a hill with Gerald of Wales or John Leland' - Alexandra Harris, author of 'Weatherland' and 'Romantic Moderns' 'An evocative and crowded chronicle ... a book of idylls and nightmares' - Guardian 'Wonderfully fluent and revealing ... Owens adroitly mixes literature, art and culture to show how perceptions of the British countryside have changed over the centuries and how artists and writers have been at the vanguard of these shifts ... She uses her impressively wide frame of reference effortlessly - and always revealingly - to zoom from panorama to close-up' - Literary Review 'If you think you know the British landscape, think again ... This informative, elegant book wears its learning lightly, moving sympathetically through space and centuries and inviting us to become mental travellers, coming with open minds and eyes to the wonders of the British landscape' - Fiona Stafford, author of 'The Long, Long Life of Trees' and 'The Brief Life of Flowers' '[A] lovely, lyrical study .... gorgeously illustrated and rich in voices ... fascinating and personal' - Tatler 'Enchanting ... Owens has a poet's skill for finding the right word or metaphor, lyrical yet spearingly precise' - World of Interiors
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?