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Distance and Memory
Categories: 21st Century, British, Scottish
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (320 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2013)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Jun 2013)
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'There are still larks on the Laverock Hill, so many even now that sometimes the cold sky above the farm road seems full of them. And from the far end of the footpath through the castle wood you can see the shadow line which the slope of the hill throws across Ardinn in the next valley to the south… In so many senses this secret landscape and its past lie in the shadow half of things.'
This is a book about remoteness: a memoir of places observed in solitude, of the texture of life through the quiet course of the seasons in the far north of Scotland. It is a book grounded in the singularity of one place – a house in northern Aberdeenshire – and threaded through with an unshowy commitment to the lost and the forgotten. In these painterly essays Davidson reflects on art, place, history and landscape. Distance and Memory is his testament to the cold, clear beauty of the north.
Foreword by Robert Macfarlane
The Green Evenings
Spar Boxes, Northern England
Summer in the North
The Rich Boys of Bygdøy and other fragments of a summer
A Northward Journey and a Summer Storm
Bringing Home a Portrait by Cosmo Alexander
Painting Northern Scotland
The Food of the North (with Jane Stevenson)
THE BACK END OF THE YEAR
Visits in Autumn
A Letter from Copenhagen
The Grim Consolations of the North
The Aesthetics of Remoteness and the North
Winter in the North
Epilogue: The Snow over Madrid
'Peter Davidson's profoundly civilised and lyrical book is [...] shot through with exquisite poignancies. These have as much to do with the nature of the place - the nature of extreme northerliness - as with the author's finely trained eye. [...] he knows how to see into things, and not only the simply visible, but also the rituals, the inner structures, and music - Lieder and ballad at the piano - of a sequestered, professorial life in rural Aberdeenshire. [...] The stuff and pace of poetry underwrites Prof Davidson's nights and days. He has written a most remarkable book in the same class of accomplishment as the work of Robert Macfarlane, who introduces it.'
Andrew McNeillie, Country Life 'This is a poet's book, his mind wide open to the cultures of the world, especially of the north, specifically Aberdeenshire. The language is luscious, musical and precise, rich with quotation and the cultures of, especially, northern Europe, from minerology and industry to poetry, painting, music [...] The book glows with moments of light, on a city, a river, in a room.'
Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales 'Peter Davidson has written a remarkable and unusual book - I have started the book but want to make it last the summer. It is a sustained prose poem, very moving in its effect... I am savouring it, reading it slowly, hoping to prolong the pleasure of these exquisite essays through the summer. It is, I think, one of the most beautiful books to be written in Scotland for many decades.'
Alexander McCall Smith
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