The Walker's Literary Companion

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9781891369193: The Walker's Literary Companion

Preface

Going out for a long walk, the nineteenth-century novelist and essayist Robert Louis Stevenson would bring with him the classic English walking essay, William Hazlitt's "On Going a Journey" (1821), about which he claimed, passionately if dogmatically, it is "so good that there should be a tax levied on all who have not read it." Imagine being so taken with an essay on walking! But history, at least of a past two hundred years, reveals that walkers have loved to read about their passion; and-given the perennial market for magazine essays and fictions, poems, and novels either describing a walk or set on a walk-that non-walking readers also like to imagine life occurring on the path or pavement.

The three editors have in common a love of walking and love of the literature of walking. We are all university scholars who have written books on literature and walking, and through this last connection have come to know one another. The mutually infectious nature of the subject and our dedication to it led to the present volume. To this end we have walked the streets of Manhattan and around the Central Park Reservoir, huddled in a Chicago hotel room, and tramped the bluffs on the Northern California coast, culling from memory our favorite walking pieces from the great collective wellspring of human writing.

We have composed our anthology for both pedestrian and non-pedestrian readers. Is there a person alive, except for the physically disabled, who is not a walker? Everyone walks, but we address those who love walking, either on the ground or in the imagination. When about 100 years ago he compiled The Lore of the Wanderer: An Open-Air Anthology, a small plain blue-covered book one could put in a back pocket, George Goodchild-in perhaps the first of a substantial cluster of such collections-caught the spirit of our end-of-this-century volume: a book (a companion) to be taken with you; or, if you cannot get out for a walk, you can read one at home.

There are, however, important differences between Goodchild's collection and ours. By "Open-Air" he meant the air of the country-side far from the polluting enclosures of the city. By insisting upon walking as a rural pleasure, Goodchild bl

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About the Author:

Roger Gilbert is professor of English at Cornell and the author of Walks in the World. Jeffrey Robinson is professor of English at the University of Colorado and the author of The Walk. Anne Wallace is professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi and the author of Walking, Literature, and English Culture.

From Library Journal:

This deftly chosen collection of essays, stories, and poems is a delightful ramble through literary history. Walking has provided a creative surge to a wide variety of writers, and Gilbert (English, Cornell; Walks in the World), Jeffrey Robinson (English, Univ. of Colorado; The Walk), and Anne Wallace (English, Univ. of Southern Mississippi; Walking, Literature, and English Culture) present a broad sampling of some of the best writing it has inspired. They have been careful to represent not only a variety of literary forms but also a broad spectrum of writers (including Plato, the Transcendentalists, today's environmental writers such as Wendell Berry, and more). Surely not exhaustive, this volume does provide the reader with an absorbing starting point. It closes with a helpful "More Literary Companionship for Walkers," which will lead readers to additional authors and titles. Missing, however, is any biographical information on the authors included, which would have proved useful to some readers. Recommended for public libraries.DKaren E.S. Lempert, Facing History and Ourselves, Brookline, MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Editorial: Breakaway Books (2000)
ISBN 10: 1891369199 ISBN 13: 9781891369193
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