The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor
A couple of years ago, two nature writers carried out a polite but pointed exchange in the pages of the New Statesman. They were Mark Cocker and Robert Macfarlane, and the argument – which came first in an essay by Cocker, then in a lucid response by Macfarlane – was about “the new nature writing”. Cocker’s contention was that the successful books published by the likes of Macfarlane, Helen Macdonald and Kathleen Jamie were products of the library rather than the field – they privileged poetry over hard science. Macfarlane’s riposte spoke of the transformational power of good nature ure writing, of the way a well-turned sentencece can “revise our ethical relations with the naturalatural world”.
I thought of this argument as I was reading Marianne Taylor’s r’s The Way of the Hare. It’s a beautiful book,k, with a striking woodcut cover, gorgeously illustrated ustrated with Taylor’s own sketches and photographs.graphs. The whole package summoned a certain n expectation, that here was another chapter in the development of “the new nature writing”, ann H is for Hare, if you will. I expected the book too do what this modern genre does best – to deliverr ecstatic encounters with the natural world, each of them filtered through centuries of f literature, each of them effecting some me profound change on the author.or.
In fact, The Way of the Hare is an old-fashioned ed book, and reminded me less of “the new nature writing”riting” than of another publishing lishing phenomenon – the Collins
‘They know that humansumans mean bad news’ … the elusive hare