The Old Ways

The Old Ways : A Journey on Foot

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From the acclaimed author of "The Wild Places," an exploration of walking and thinking In this exquisitely written book, Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge, England, home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove roads, and sea paths that crisscross both the British landscape and its waters and territories beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt old paths, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, and of pilgrimage and ritual. Told in Macfarlane's distinctive voice, "The Old Ways" folds together natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology and literature. His walks take him from the chalk downs of England to the bird islands of the Scottish northwest, from Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas. Along the way he crosses paths with walkers of many kinds--wanderers, pilgrims, guides, and artists. Above all this is a book about walking as a journey inward and the subtle ways we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move. Macfarlane discovers that paths offer not just a means of traversing space, but of feeling, knowing, and thinking.

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  • Hardback | 448 pages
  • 157.48 x 226.06 x 40.64mm | 657.71g
  • 11 Oct 2012
  • Penguin Putnam Inc
  • Penguin USA
  • New York, NY
  • English
  • New.
  • 0670025119
  • 9780670025114
  • 38,889

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Author Information

Robert Macfarlane is the author of the prize-winning books "Mountains of the Mind" and "The Wild Places," both of which were "New York Times" Notable Books. He has contributed to "Harper's, Granta, The Observer, The Times Literary Supplement, " and the "London Review of Books." He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

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Review quote

Praise for "The Old Ways" "Macfarlane seems to know and have read everything, he steadily walks and climbs through places that most of us would shy away from and his every sentence rewrites the landscape in language crunchy and freshly minted and deeply textured. Surely the most accomplished (and erudite) writer on place to have come along in years." --Pico Iyer "Luminous, possessing a seemingly paradoxical combination of the dream-like and the hyper-vigilant, "The Old Ways" is, as with all of Macfarlane's work, a magnificent read. Each sentence can carry astonishing discovery." --Rick Bass "In Macfarlane, British travel writing has a formidable new champion... Macfarlane is read above all for the beauty of his prose and his wonderfully innovative and inventive way with language...he can write exquisitely about anywhere."--William Dalrymple, "The Observer " "[An] extraordinary book...it has made me feel that I myself am always walking some eternal track, sharing its pleasures and hardships with unaccountable others, treading its immemorial footprints, linking me with all the generations of man and beast, and connecting in particular the visionary author of the book, as he unrolls his sleeping bag beneath the stars, with this bemused reviewer beside the fire."--Jan Morris, "The Telegraph " "Every Robert MacFarlane book offers beautiful writing, bold journeys, and an introduction to places and authors you have never heard of before but wish you had always known about. But "The Old Ways" is different: somehow larger, more subtle, lingering in the mind and body just a bit stronger. With its global reach and mysterious Sebaldian structure, this is MacFarlane's most important book yet." --David Rothenberg "In this intricate, sensuous, haunted book, each journey is part of other journeys and there are no clear divisions to be made...the walking of paths is, to [Macfarlane], an education, and symbolic, too, of the very"

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