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Rising Ground A Search for the Spirit of Place by Philip Marsden

Rising Ground A Search for the Spirit of Place

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Sue Baker's view...

In this extract “ a feeling for the peculiar ambience of a place...’ and “the ability to convey...the sum and substance of a particular locale” sums up for me what Philip Marsden set out to convey in his Rising Ground. It is a book that excites for its subject, the Spirit of Place and also for its writing, it was a very dull day when I came to the last page, it felt as if a small light had been extinguished. It’s through Cornwall that Philip Marsden attempts to show us how our land has revealed itself throughout human history, it is what we make of the land, the hand we place on it, our fight to understand our place and what that means to our innermost thoughts and feelings. A superb book that through the breadth of research and quotation has left me with a lifetime of reading and memories.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. When award-winning travel writer Philip Marsden moved to a remote Cornish farmhouse he found himself profoundly impressed by the landscape and determined to explore both the region and his fellow countrymen’s enduring fascination with such rugged and bleak locations. More scholarly and less esoteric than Julian Cope’s The Modern Antiquarian, Marsden’s study offers his own perceptive observations bolstered by the insights of those who preceded him – medieval chroniclers and Tudor topographers, 18th-century antiquarians, Edwardian naturalists, artists and post-industrial poets. Part travelogue, part cultural history, it takes the reader to some of the most ruggedly beautiful locations in the British Isles from Bodmin Moor, Tintagel and Glastonbury, to the Isles of Scilly, in search of what the author calls ‘the spirit of place’, and for an answer as to why we are drawn to such places that give birth to fable, myth and legend.
~ Paul Roland


Rising Ground A Search for the Spirit of Place by Philip Marsden

Why do we react so strongly to certain places? Why do layers of mythology build up around particular features in the landscape? When Philip Marsden moved to a remote creekside farmhouse in Cornwall, the intensity of his response took him aback. It led him to begin exploring these questions, prompting a journey westwards to Land's End through one of the most fascinating regions of Europe. From the Neolithic ritual landscape of Bodmin Moor to the Arthurian traditions of Tintagel, from the mysterious china-clay country to the granite tors and tombs of the far south-west, Marsden assembles a chronology of our shifting attitudes to place. In archives, he uncovers the life and work of other 'topophiles' before him - medieval chroniclers and Tudor topographers, eighteenth-century eighteenth-century antiquarians, post-industrial poets and abstract painters. Drawing also on his own travels overseas, Marsden reveals that the shape of the land lies not just at the heart of our history but of man's perennial struggle to belong on this earth.

About the Author

Philip Marsden is the award-winning author of a number of works of travel, fiction and non-fiction, including The Bronski House, The Spirit-Wrestlers, and The Levelling Sea. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in Cornwall.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Philip Marsden

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