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eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
File size1.5 Mb
GanreNon Fiction
Release date 01.11.2002
Pages count328
Book rating4.61 (1242 votes)
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Affirmation of Pedestrianism

For those of you who don't know me as well as you think you do, I'll start by saying that I have never owned a car, and have not been behind the wheel of one in over 12 years; I bicycle in nice weather but my preferred mode of transportation is walking.

So, I just finished the book Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit and think it is one of the greatest books ever written. I was partial to two of the last chapters, one about women and walking and the other about the decline of pedestrianism due to automobilization and suburbanization but really, the whole damn book is great: a work of art from start to finish.

Solnit does exactly what the sub title describes: traces a history of walking from the early philosophers and romantics to modern peripatetics like myself, who are disturbingly and increasingly in decline. In this modern world we inhabit nowadays, I knew walking is considered subversive, nonconformist, and even controversial, yet until I read Wanderlust I didn't realize it was even more so back in the day: walkers were often {and still are} seen as lower and working class because, heaven forbid, why would you choose to walk among and in the filth of the city {or the mud of the country} when you could be enclosed and away from it in a horse drawn carriage or the modern carriage that is called the automobile? Women who walked were often arrested, as no respectable woman would go un-escorted into the mean streets of midnight; some women were thus victims of "surgical rape" as doctors forcibly inserted medical instruments to make sure their hymens were intact and they weren't lying about not being street walkers {throughout the book Solnit peppers her prose with numerous terms that have originated with walking, not just those relating to women who have throughout history tried to take back the night}. Members of the counterculture walked and still walk, from Whitman and Ginsberg, to prolific protesters who march for their numerous causes. Artists use walking to express themselves visually, such as Robert Smithson's 1,500-foot-long Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake.

Famous cities of walkers such as New York and Paris are explored, as well as the entire country of England; famous solitary walkers such as Thoreau and Rousseau are celebrated as well as companion pedestrians such as Dorothy and William Wordsworth. Urban and rural walking and their unique characteristics are covered but not contained.

Inspired by this book, I have checked out books from the library by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and have continued my proud walks around the city of Buffalo, welcoming Spring and impatient for Summer, when my wandering without purpose rambles will become more frequent, as I walk with purpose daily, but it's undeniably more pleasant to walk without purpose in warmer weather.

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