Hateful Sunsets

David Craig

  • Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place by Philip Marsden
    Granta, 348 pp, £20.00, October 2014, ISBN 978 1 84708 628 0

Philip Marsden’s new book explores an idea as much as it explores a country. It journeys westward through Cornwall from Bodmin Moor to Scilly, alighting on the rocky eminences where granite has boiled up through the Earth’s crust and crystallised into highlands and headlands. It’s rugged country, raked by south-westerlies ‘bred of the Atlantic’ and eaten at by seas surging into the throat of the Channel. Western Europe reaches one of its fine points here, like Cape Wrath in Sutherland, Lleyn and St David’s Head in Wales, and Cornuaille in Brittany. In such places we come across peaks and juts of rock which look and feel like those in West Penwith: ‘look’ because they draw our eyes and feet like magnets, ‘feel’ because the whitish crystals of quartz, like petrified pupae, that stud their surfaces are so useful as we climb the crags west of Newlyn and north of Sennen.

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[*] Pagan Britain was reviewed by Tom Shippey in the LRB of 6 November 2014.