Nan Shepherd journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland where she encounters a world that can be both breathtakingly beautiful and shockingly harsh. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape. Composed during the Second World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay untouched for more than thirty years before it was finally published.
Reviewed by Justin Marozzi in Slightly Foxed Issue 60.
Rock, Root and Bird
The Living Mountain . . . is a treasure that, rather like the Cairngorms it describes so wondrously, stands alone in space and time. Happening on it at any point in one’s reading life brings unexpected pleasure. It is thanks to Robert Macfarlane, who has written a typically penetrating introduction to a new edition, that the book, first published in 1977 after lying orphaned in a drawer for four decades, is now enjoying a second wind. So much so that the recent, universally glowing accolades even include the claim that this is ‘the finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain’. For Macfarlane it is ‘one of the two most remarkable twentieth-century British studies of a landscape that I know’. So we are in serious territory here.
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 60, Winter 2018