More than any other writer, Gilbert White (1720-93) has shaped the relationship between man and nature. A hundred years before Darwin, White realised the crucial role of worms in the formation of soil and understood the significance of territory and song in birds. His precise, scrupulously honest and unaffectedly witty observations led him to interpret animals’ behaviour in a unique manner.
This collection of his letters to the explorer and naturalist Daines Barrington and the eminent zoologist Thomas Pennant - White’s intellectual lifelines from his country-village home - are a beautifully written, detailed evocation of the lives of the flora and fauna of 18th-century England.
I have been looking for this on audio for a while. I live near Selborne and have visited Gilbert White's house several times and that always helps to make a work more interesting. Also this work has been quoted as an influence by several respected naturalists and scientists so I wanted to see what the fuss was about.
My concern was that a 220+ year old book by a country parson talking about swallows and spiders might not be that rivetting or translate well to audio. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
From the first few words it is a complete joy to listen to. The narrator manages to give the perfect feel to the work and the words themselves are beautifully written and sound like they could have been produced yesterday.There is very little archane langauge and the pace is crisp and clear. The book is actually a series of different letters written over a period of time so each one forms a discreet package and none of them dwells too long on any one subject. The observations in the letters are not just natural history but also give a facinating glimpse of life , human and animal, in the English countryside in the 18th century.
The narration is clear and measured and the production is very good. There is a tiny introduction by the narrator which sets the scene nicely without getting in the way of the work.
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