Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Wanderlust: a history of walking

Blog follower Ch alerted me to the book Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, viii, 326pp.).

Wanderlust book cover

Joseph Anthony Amato’s review of the book (Journal of Social History 35.1 (2001) 209-210) claims “This work is not quite a history of walking nor is it a study of Wanderlust. Rather, title notwithstanding, it is essentially a perceptive cultural commentary about what writers, thinkers, protesters, and Solnit herself have made of their walking in the last two centuries.”

In conducting internet searches I found the following quotations from the book (a copy of which I must locate and read):

  • For [Jane Austen and the readers of Pride and Prejudice], as for Mr. Darcy, [Elizabeth Bennett’s] solitary walks express the independence that literally takes the heroine out of the social sphere of the houses and their inhabitants, into a larger, lonelier world where she is free to think: walking articulates both physical and mental freedom.”
  • “A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape.”
  • “Roads are a record of those who have gone before.”
  • “Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors…disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”
  • “Thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented society, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking.”