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MOUNTAIN WORLD: A LITERARY JOURNEY Gregory McNamee 2000 1st ed Hardcover DJ Fine
By McNamee, Gregory
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San Francisco, Sierra Club, 2000, 1st edition. 262 pp. Hardcover with dust jacket. Fine

A superb anthology of writings on the mountains, from both mountaineering as well as literary sources. Arranged by continents, all areas are covered. 

In this artfully assembled anthology, editor Gregory McNamee gathers writings inspired by mountains that might be summed up by Abu El Fadel's observation of African peaks: "Whoever looked at them became attracted and stuck to them until they died." El Fadel calls this attraction "Human Magnetism" and, indeed, as the collection reveals, people across the ages have felt the magnetic pull - represented in these pages by writings from five continents and a diverse assortment of cultures. John Muir describes thunderstorms in the Sierras and the way "the noon sky seems abandoned without them, as if Nature was forgetting something." Estonian folklore tells of how "the Dog-Snouts at the edge of the world dwell behind a great mountain."

Equally varied are the forms of the pieces, including poetry, prose, and folk songs, to name a few. Each work offers a different experience of mountains and provides its own lens through which to perceive their significance. The result is a collection as shifting in content and tone as the world's jutting topography. That McNamee's anthology has grown from a deeply personal place is clear, as is his skill as an editor. Though some readers may find themselves lamenting what he has not included, most will rejoice in what he has, for somewhere amid the Chilean Andes as described by Charles Darwin and the mythical rocks where Namarudu the lightning spirit sealed a sleeping family to dream forever, McNamee captures a few notes of the mountains' siren song and a sense of their sublimity. - Rene Henery


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