The essays in this book, written by poets, novelists, mountain-climbers and academics from all over the world, evoke the representation of mountains in the English-speaking world as artists, writers, philosophers or mountain-climbers have represented them from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries.From the Alps to the Pyrenees, from Mount Fuji to Mount Shasta, from the Himalayas to the Scottish Highlands, from Ikere in Nigeria to Devil's Tower in the United States, from Uluru in Australia to the most northern mountain of the Arctic, the shapes of the world speak the same language and tell the world its own story.This interdisciplinary book, weaving together mountaineering, literature, philosophy, painting, cinema, ecology, history, palaeontology, geography, geopolitics, toponymy, law, religion and myth, invites people to an innovative reading of mountains: it reveals the close relationship existing between the shapes of the world and all forms of writing and, at the same time, it shows how the representations of the imagination may be instrumental in protecting the natural world.The story told by the landscape inscribes a broken line in the shapes of the world, tearing the landscape like a fragile page whenever historical and political events (wars, mining or deforestation) leave scars in the landscape; but writers' and artists' representations of mountains constitute a path to awareness as they are not only a painting of beauty, but an image of our link to nature and a warning as well.For centuries the image of the mountain has conveyed a symbolism telling the story of human thought, and this book shows to what extent literature and art play an essential part in our awareness of nature.
Françoise Besson is Professor of English Literature at the University of Toulouse (UTM, CAS). Her research focuses on the relationship between landscape and writing in English, Native American and Canadian literature. Her books include Le Paysage pyrénéen dans la littérature de voyage et l’iconographie britanniques du dix-neuvième siècle (2000) and Pyrénées romanesques Pyrénées poétiques dans le regard britannique: XIXème siècle (2000). She is also the author of several collections of poems, tales and short stories.