Plus tard, le soir, le ciel est devenu d'un profond bleu ardoise, identique à celui qui baigne maintenant la base des montagnes, et leurs sommets enneigés, avec leurs tentacules pendants, flottent dans l'espace.
Toute sa vie durant, Nan Shepherd (1893-1981) a arpenté les montagnes écossaises de Cairngorm. Là-bas, les hivers sont extrêmement rudes, les conditions de vie précaires. La Montagne vivante raconte ses pérégrinations, ses méditations, ses « choses vues » : les rivières, la neige, la faune et la flore, mais également ses camarades temporaires, les autres marcheurs qu'elle a croisés lors de ses explorations.
Ce récit, écrit dans les années 1940, était resté inédit pendant près de trente ans. Nous pouvons maintenant découvrir la prose poétique et exaltée d'une pionnière du nature writing : Nan Shepherd explore les résonances du coeur humain et du paysage, s'affronte à la grandeur souvent terrifiante de la nature, et nous convie à contempler l'âme du monde déployée sous nos yeux.
« Le meilleur livre jamais écrit sur la nature et le paysage en Grande-Bretagne. » The Guardian
The Living Mountain is a lyrical testament in praise of the Cairngorms. It is a work deeply rooted in Nan Shepherd's knowledge of the natural world, and a poetic and philosophical meditation on our longing for high and holy places.
Drawing on different perspectives of the mountain environment, Shepherd makes the familiar strange and the strange awe-inspiring. Her sensitivity and powers of observation put her into the front rank of nature writing.
Edited and introductions by Roderick Watson.
The Quarry Wood, although published well before Sunset Song, inhabits a similar world; the progress of its heroine could almost be the alternative story of a Chris Guthrie who did go to university. Compassionate and humorous, the grace and style of Shepherd's prose is heightened by a superb ear for the vigorous language of the north-east.
The Weatherhouse, Shepherd's masterpiece, is an even more substantial achievement which belongs to the great line of Scottish fiction dealing with the complex interactions of small communities, and especially the community of women - a touching and hilarious network of mothers, daughters, spinsters and widows. It is also a striking meditation on the nature of truth, the power of human longing and the mystery of being.
The third and final novel, A Pass in the Grampians, describes Jenny Kilgour's coming of age as she has to choose between the kindly harshness of her grandfather's life on a remote hill farm, and the vulgar and glorious energy of Bella Cassie, a local girl who left the community to pursue success as a singer, and has now returned to scandalise them all.
The Living Mountain is a lyrical testament in praise of the Cairngorms. It is a work deeply rooted in Shepherd's knowledge of the natural world, and a poetic and philosophical meditation on our longing for high and holy places.
This is the first omnibus edition of Shepherd's prose works - her sensitivity and powers of observation raise her work far above the status of regional literature and into the front rank of Scottish writing.
Introduced by Roderick Watson.
Garry Forbes comes home from the trenches, suffering from shellshock, to find a local girl claiming to have been engaged to one of his dead friends. He sets out to expose her fantasies by cleaving to his simple view of reality. The truths of inner experience, however, are more elusive and fluid than he ever imagined and he is compelled to acquire a more subtle outlook on life and people.
The tiny community of Fetter-Rothie, with all its gossip and petty scandal, is delightfully realised in every detail. Yet Nan Shepherd builds a novel of great penetration and power within this small canvas, animated by images of light, darkness and space, and always informed by a Chekhovian eye for the humour, terror and strangeness to be found in everyday life.
Nan Shepherd's first novel The Quarry Wood was highly acclaimed when re-issued as a Canongate Classic. This, her second novel, is considered to be her masterpiece.