Underland


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Synopsis Author. Robert Macfarlane A British author and academic, Robert Macfarlane is an author of prize-winning books on the themes of memory, landscape, nature, environmentalism and travel and regularly writes for publications including the Guardian and the Times. Visit the Robert Macfarlane author page.

Added to basket. The Old Ways. Robert Macfarlane. Isabella Tree. The Lost Words. Jackie Morris. The Wild Places. The Living Mountain. Nan Shepherd.

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John Lewis-Stempel. Mountains Of The Mind. The Wood. Is he a young fogey? In England, Macfarlane goes caving and studies, with a young plant scientist named Merlin Sheldrake, the fungi that create a cooperative system below forests. In Paris, he plunges into the catacombs and falls in with an avant-garde troupe of urban explorers, wriggling through tiny openings into grand caverns. In Italy, he tracks the flow of a partly subterranean river, the Timavo. In the Slovenian highlands, he considers sinkholes, and the gruesome ways they have sometimes been put to use.

What he sometimes finds on his explorations is, to his dismay, trash. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Underland , please sign up. Because of its length, I want to buy this book. If there are photographs included I will buy the hardbound edition.

If not, the e-book will suffice. The cover is exquisite. Are there photos in the hardbound edition? Kris I also toyed between the two. Both have pics. The hard copy would be a home library keeper I am deciding between buying a real copy or an ebook. Joanne J Each chapter begins with an intriguing photo. Otherwise no photos. See all 3 questions about Underland…. Lists with This Book.

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Sort order. This book is many layered. It is his journeys below ground that sent shivers down my spine. He describes his caving exploits in England so well that I found myself holding my breath with him as he squeezed through holes so narrow that he had to turn his head sideways to get through.

Underland : Robert Macfarlane :

How can people do that?! As he wanders through a forest, he learns about the hidden life of all that grows there. This book is full of amazing journeys, thoughtful writing and guidance for the future, if anyone wants to listen. View all 8 comments. Sort of a stand in adventure while bound to my desk for work or asthma keeping my indoors in winter.

How would it work reading about him exploring terrain that I have absolutely no interest in exploring myself? Would I love it or would I be detached and disinterested? Right from the beginning, I was greeted by the high level of writing. It is a bit like meeting up with an old friend, you sit down and pick up where you left off, even when it has been years.

The writing is sublime. And the introduction to the Underlands is gentle, sharing his fascination, his motives for writing, he slowly guides us into the book.

I loved visiting underground spaces in this way without the need for myself to get uncomfortable, wet or in a dangerous situation. Armchair travelling at its best. Oddly, I thought most about his words after climbing the hill to an old Iron Age Hillfort, pondering what lay beneath me and what memories the stones held that I was standing on. And quite frankly that change in perspective was refreshing. It also got me thinking about my own place in the world, what legacy I will leave behind. What impact I can have to safeguard, to protect and to pass on. And this is where the real strength of any good book comes from: The moment you put it down, it still occupies your thoughts, you carry its wisdom with you and phrases pop into your head when you are doing other things.

Certainly a book for me that I will revisit over and over again, preferably reading out passages to my husband, because the writing is just so wonderful.

And we shall keep going out and find beauty and be still. Wonderful book! The writing is fantastic. His descriptions of exploring arctic ice and the what the deepest levels may have locked within them was my favorite part. View 1 comment. In full I am a fan of Robert Macfarlane's work and have read a number of his books over the past few years.

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All the previous books I've read have been largely about life in the open. This one takes a very different direction and goes Underland. In common with previous books it looks at its subject in differing places, times and ways. The range of Underland topics that he manages to cover is diverse, fascinating and thought provoking at times. I would argue that you need to savour a Robert Macfarlane book.

I actually took a couple of months to read this, dipping in when I felt the inclination.

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In the case of this book in particular, and his others sometimes, they take you to strange places often known mainly to the author. For example the chapter on the Wood Wide Web I found simply fascinating. It was a subject I had little knowledge at all of and I found that it touched something in me. The Paris catacombs I knew slightly more about. Or at least I thought I did!

Once I read the chapter I knew far more. Within the chapters there are often comments that are almost "asides". Again these made me sit up and take notice. I would offer as examples the comments on the hunger stones in the river Elbe or the life of drain workers in India - marvellous. The writing is rich, interesting and vivid in the main. It is not a book to rush. If you want to skip a bit fine but do be careful. There are gems in amongst the main headings. I will confess that not every chapter fascinated me however the ones that did left me reflective and pleased that I had gained some new knowledge of this world we live on.

I loved some of the ideas that came across to me in this book. When in Greenland he offers the idea that ice has a memory for thousands of years for example. There is a rich warmth of humanity in this even if sometimes the stories take us to far darker places. This is a storage facility being built deep underground and intended to last for , years. It is for the storage of nuclear waste. Interesting enough you might say. However, in the way that this author seems to be able to do so easily, he couples this with the Kalevala, an epic folk poem from Finland.

This poem dates back a long time however Macfarlane draws out somewhat surprising similarities between this two quite different topics. In turn this leads to the subject of language systems and how to communicate with people who will not be born for many centuries.

It is remarkable just how readable and interesting he can make such diverse subjects. In a sense this is a difficult book to review. My journey Underland over the period of a couple on months will not be the same as anyone else's probably. The parts that touched me may not touch others in the same way. Certainly some people will look at this book and simply wonder why.

However if the idea of this interests you maybe you should look at trying it. If you have read previous books by Robert Macfarlane it is possible that, like me, you will consider this his best richest book yet. View all 7 comments. I felt crushed by the weight of the prose by page 30 and skimmed the rest. It thickens, pools, flows, rushes, slows. What will survive of us is plastic, swine bones and lead, the stable isotope at the end of the uranium decay chain.

PS Somehow my review has been posted twice and the book marked as read twice. View 2 comments. Mankind has long looked to the heavens seeking fortune, inspiration and direction. Numerous cultures have all considered the underworld to be a place where a river carried the dead away from the surface, where death abounded, hell, hades and other places were thought to exist. It was somewhere to be avoided.

Yet, people have worked underground for thousands of years, tracing and extracting the minerals and ores in the ground, However, it is not something that most people do on a regular basis in Mankind has long looked to the heavens seeking fortune, inspiration and direction. Yet, people have worked underground for thousands of years, tracing and extracting the minerals and ores in the ground, However, it is not something that most people do on a regular basis in the UK now our mining industry is gone.

We do head beneath the surface though as millions of people think nothing about going on the tube under London and other capital cities to get to work. However, very few get to go to where Macfarlane is heading. Squeezing through tiny gaps, pulling his bag behind him, he will not see the sun for a week. He will venture deep underground in Finland visiting a nuclear waste site.

Here they are burying copper and steel tube holding waste uranium, that will have to be buried for thousands of years and sealed behind a million tonnes of rock. People have been entering caves since time immemorial, some caves are easy to enter, though not straightforward to reach and they reveal art that is millennia old. The caves he visits to see this amazing art are not always the easiest to find, and it is not always the easiest thing to see on the walls as he discovers. Each cave he enters challenges his perception of the underground landscape, having to descend vertically in almost pitch back, wading through underground rivers that might flood with no warning.

He sees first hand how the same forces that shape our coasts and mountains, also transform the Underland. Most memorable is an underground chamber where there are dunes of black sands. Underneath forests are more than just roots, as Macfarlane understands how trees talk to each other through the Wood Wide Web. One of the deepest points he reaches is to see the place where they look at the stars… The way into the Underland is through the riven trunk of an old ash tree… It is through these and the other locations he takes us, that we get to hear the stories of these places that never see the sun.

The reason he can abseil down the moraine on the glacier is because of global warming and the implications for humanity should the repositories hold the nuclear waste leak or rupture do not even bear thinking about. If you have read any of his previous books then this is a must read. It is not one to read if you suffer from claustrophobia.

I like the way that he can link seemingly unrelated subjects from classical history to modern day physics with that common thread of being under the ground.

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