Field ob­ser­va­tion

The Guardian Weekly - - Books - Alex Pre­ston

The Way of the Hare by Mar­i­anne Tay­lor

Blooms­bury, 288pp

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

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