Winner of the National Book Award in 1986, Lopez's magnum opus explores the Arctic landscape and the hold it continues to exert on our imagination.
Barry Lopez is the author of six works of non-fiction and eight works of fiction. His writing appears regularly in Harper's, The Paris Review, Orion, and The Georgia Review. He is the recipient of a National Book Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and other honours. Lopez lives in western Oregon.
This is one of the finest books ever written about the Far North, warmly appreciative and understanding of the natural forces that shape life in an austere landscape. The prize-winning author (Of Wolves and Men spent four years in Arctic regions: traveling between Davis Strait in the east and Bering Strait in the west, hunting with Eskimos and accompanying archeologists, biologists and geologists in the field. Lopez became enthralled by the power of the Arctic, a power he observes derives from ``the tension between its beauty and its capacity to take life.'' This is a story of light, darkness and ice; of animal migrations and Eskimos; of the specter of development and the cultural perception of a region. Examining the literature of 19th century exploration, Lopez finds a disassociation from the actual landscape; explorers have tended to see the Arctic as an adversary. Peary and Stefansson left as a troubling legacy the attitude that the landscape could be labeled, then manipulated. Today, he contends, an imaginative, emotional approach to the Arctic is as important as a rational, scientific one. Lopez has written a wonderful, compelling defense of the Arctic wilderness. Illustrations. BOMC main selection. (March 11)
The themes of this book are as vast as the landscape it encompasses. Having lived in the Arctic for long periods of time, Lopez authoritatively conveys an enormous breadth and variety of knowledge, including Arctic exploration, geography, weather, animal migration, and behavior. His portraits of animalsmuskox, polar bear, narwhale, and othersreflect a sensitive melding of facts and mystery. The work is suffused with philosophical and lyrical strains. Through the centuries the Arctic landscape has woven a ``legacy of desire'' in many a mind and heart, shaping imagination and knowledge. For Lopez, how the Arctic is comprehended will determine its fate. Whether its land, peoples, and animals are honored or vitiated will depend upon the working out of this metaphorical analogy between mind and landscape. Highly recommended for most collections. Carol J. Lichtenberg, Washington State Univ. Lib., Pullman
"The Arctic dreamland seen and described by a writer of rare
perception and poetic descriptive power... The pages sparkle with
Arctic light" -- David Stephen * Scotsman *
"A marvellous evocation of the Arctic by a naturalist, who is part poet... A magical book to read slowly and savour" -- Gillian Somerville-Large * Irish Times *
"Barry Lopez by some rare magic manages to combine a poetic vision with accuracy of observation; and although he writes mainly about Eskimos, polar bears, and other denizens of the frozen north, many of his perceptive insights apply the world over" -- Paula Johnson * Mail on Sunday *
"Dazzling... Treats the distant, snowy world of the Arctic as a place that exists not only in the mathematics of geography but also in the terra incognita of our imaginations" -- Michiko Kakutani * New York Times *
"By what comes close to sheer magic, the magic of a highly literate and perceptive naturalist, Barry Lopez has transformed the austerity and Sibelius-like gloom of the tundra and great ice walls into a living pageant of high latitudes. This book will become a classic within its genre" * John Hillaby *