Robert Macfarlane: Reading On Location

What is it like to read a literary work in the place where it is set? To read John Steinbeck‘s The Grapes of Wrath in the Oklahoma panhandle? Or Bruce Chatwin‘s In Patagonia in Patagonia? Robert Macfarlane recently asked followers on Twitter for their personal experiences of what he calls “in situ reading”, and has managed to collect all kinds of examples:

“So the thread grew and spread into a glorious scatter of micro-geographies, a many-sited memory map of located readings. I only joined Twitter in March, after a lifetime in social media purdah. I don’t know why I waited so long. The small region of Twitter-terrain into which I’ve wandered is, so far, a place of community spirit, exchange, kindness, good humour and hope.”

— Robert Macfarlane, The Guardian

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  1. Reading McFarlane’s books, and some off-shoots, such as Baker’s The Peregrine and poetry of Edward Thomas was/is one of the most redefining moments in my recent literary life!

    • I couldn’t agree more re: Edward Thomas (I recently interviewed Katie Gramich about the poet on this very site). I’m itching to read Baker’s The Peregrine sometime soon—I’ve previewed a few pages online and am already drawn to the prose style.

      Best,
      Rhys

  2. Nuria Belastegui

    Fascinating. Thank you for this! It made me think of Los Angeles- based artist Tim Youd’s 100 Novels project. Have you heard of it? Tim spent some time in Mancheste three years ago re-typing “A Clockwork Orangel.” Chris Taylor in The Guardian wasn’t particularly impressed.

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