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23 | 2008
La Montagne

Entre image et langage dans les territoires anglophones
Mountains in Image and Word in the English-Speaking World
Edited by Françoise Besson, Catherine Lanone and Philippe Birgy
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ISBN 9782810700035

This collection of papers was presented at the International Conference "The Mountain in Image and Word in the English- Speaking World" organized by the research center Cultures Anglo-Saxonnes, University of Toulouse II. By confronting visions of mountains on various continents, from Europe and America to Africa and Australia, this volume attempts to redefine hiking, climbing and writing or painting as intertwined activities, leading from a mythical, visionary approach to a radical political awareness. Mountains may cast a mystical spell; they also raise very concrete problems of conservation and biodiversity. These essays trace the aesthetic approach derived from the picturesque and the sublime, but also map cultural and economic constraints. Following (for instance) the footsteps of genuine or imaginary English wanderers roaming the Alps or the Pyrenees, mapping like Kev Reynolds an English mountaineer's delight in the Pyrenees, or exploring artistic commitment like Rick Bass's fierce fight to preserve his valley of Yaak, the papers reveal how tightly walking and writing are connected. Straying from Romantic nostalgia, writers like Canadian novelist Rudy Wiebe or Nigerian poet Niyi Osundare present a forceful view of mountains. Thus mountains high and low appear as a multiple, unreachable or inhabited space, the haunting origin of creativity and inspiration, raising the question of perception and perspective, codes of reading and writing landscapes, the relationship between human beings and nature, in this challenging realm of physical, mental, but also rhetorical and symbolic elevation.

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