The Vintage Book Of Walking (Vintage Originals)

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9780099276678: The Vintage Book Of Walking (Vintage Originals)

'It is good to collect things, but better to go on walks. ' Anatole France. A fundamental act, often taken for granted, yet through the centuries it has inspired a fascinating literature. This, the first comprehensive anthology on the subject, delves into why we walk and how we walk; the differences between the country hike and the city stroll; walking and wooing; walking into trouble and marching out. Then some of us will walk to meet the Maker. A mix of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and drama provides the reader with over two hundred booted authors. Xenophone and Baudelaire, Flora Thompson and Julian Barnes, Mark Twain and Roberto Calasso tramp the pages of this fascinating collection.

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Review:

In the wake of a century that saw the advent of cinema and the speedy translocations of car and aeroplane, a literary anthology on the subject of walking might seem quaintly anachronistic: a quiet declaration of the slow and solitary pleasures of the country ramble, a harking back to the 19th-century perambulations of Dickens and Baudelaire, mapping the undiscovered city with the radical eye of the transgressive pedestrian. Such a reaction would be ill-judged, for Douglas Minshull has compiled a wonderful collection of texts that remind us of the ways in which walking is intimately tied into the essential qualities of writing itself: the rhythms of lonely reverie, the paths of philosophical rumination, the precision of undisturbed observation. As Minshull observes, citing Robert Walser and Iain Sinclair, we walk "to properly 'see' and 'feel' the country or city"--the natural speed of our bipedal bodies inclines us to a form of visionary communion with ourselves and our environment. Intelligently selected and juxtaposed, the passages gathered in The Vintage Book of Walking take the reader through the why and how of walking, the setting off, the journey itself. There is a section devoted to the city pedestrian: the Baudelairean flšneur who delights in the fleeting inspirations and encounters of urban life, the artist who, in Walter Benjamin's delightful phrase, "botanizes on the asphalt". Minshull is even generous enough to include a selection of diatribes and brickbats by anti-walkers: Max Beerbohm is wittily succinct and brutal when he declares "my objection to [walking] is that it stops the brain".

Such are the riches of this collection--the 200 or so authors included range from Xenophon to Julian Barnes; poetry, prose and drama generously represented--resulting in a book that is everything an anthology should be: satisfying in itself yet suggestive enough to provoke the reader to investigate writers further. As Iain Sinclair, one of the great contemporary explorers of the urban labyrinth, affirms:

Walking, moving across a retreating townscape, stitches it all together: the illicit cocktail of bodily exhaustion and a raging carbon monoxide high.
With such an invitation, how could one refuse to take a stroll? --Burhan Tufail

Review:

"It is good to collect things, but better to go on walks." - Anatole France

" It is good to collect things, but better to go on walks." - Anatole France

- "It is good to collect things, but better to go on walks." --Anatole France

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