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The Living Mountain

The Living Mountain

Nan Shepherd


Here then may be a life of the senses so pure, so untouched by any
mode of apprehension but their own, that the body may be said to
think. Each sense heightened to its most exquisite awareness is in
itself total experience. This is the innocence we have lost, living in
one sense at a time to live all the way through. ... The many details
– a stroke here, a stroke there – come for a moment into perfect
focus, and one can read at last the word that has been from the

Jeanette Winterson, in her afterword to this edition, describes the book as a "geo-poetic exploration of the Cairngorms". That's a good description, though incomplete: this is a meditation on mountains and mountain-centred living in all its forms, often quite breathtaking in its imagery and always rather meditative and spiritual in its perception of the wholeness of the environment.

The style of writing itself is fascinating, almost Victorian but without the heaviness. The grammar is flawless, which in itself is quite dated and dating, and every now and again there are some passages that jump off the page with their insight and lucidity. It's a book I want to take into the mountains to read in the situation of its conception.

5/5. Finished 05 June 2021.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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