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What does it mean to be out walking in the world, whether in a landscape or a metropolis, on a pilgrimage or a protest march? In Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit draws together many histories -- of anatomical evolution and city design, of treadmills and labyrinths, of walking clubs and sexual mores -- to create a portrait of the range of possibilities for this most basic act. Arguing that walking as history means walking for pleasure and for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit homes in on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from the peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece to the poets of the Romantic Age, from the perambulations of the Surrealists to the ascents of mountaineers.
The first general history of walking, Solnit's book finds a profound relationship between walking and thinking, walking and culture, and argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in an ever-more automobile-dependent and accelerated world. With delightful profiles of some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction -- from Wordsworth to Gary Snyder, from Rousseau to Argentina's Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, from Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bonnet to Andre Breton's Nadja -- Wanderlust offers a provocative examination of the interplay between the body, the imagination, and the world around the walker.