A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland

Rebecca Solnit, Author Verso $25 (184p) ISBN 978-1-85984-885-2
""This is not a travel book in the usual sense, but a book of essays sequenced and shaped by my journal,"" states American-born Solnit, who became an Irish citizen in 1986, in her introduction to her ""passages"" in Ireland. If you've never been to Ireland, this book will serve as a graceful introduction, and if you are a seasoned visitor, it will enrich your knowledge and appreciation of the country. The delight in Solnit's journey is enhanced by her discovery and use of analogies and paradoxes, metaphors and symbols. On her way to the National Gallery in Dublin, she was lured into the Natural History Museum, where the ""bestiaries, and the animals they described, were part of a system in which everything had an allegorical meaning... waiting to be read by those who knew its language."" The museum turns out to be a trove ""of language, symbol, metaphor and imagination, of the creatures that once inhabited our lives and are now fading even from our speech."" And so we move on to an enchanting melange of people, places and events: Roger Casement, imperialist become anti-imperialist and martyr; the cliffs of Moher; interviews with a ""traveler family and a ""hermitress""; Eamon de Valera; the potato famine; the arctic-like Burren's naturalist nuns; Irish Republican sympathy for Native Americans (""Can ye tell me why ye killed Geronimo?""); and the anti-pastoral writing of Jonathan Swift contrasted with the idyllic poetry of Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser, which provides an understanding one never inferred from English 405. This sensual and intellectually stimulating foray portrays an Ireland that the casual tourist may miss. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/02/1997
Release date: 06/01/1997
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