“we live in a world of over-simplification. Few people have the time, energy or desire to see the world as any more complex than they can cope with.”
Snow, by Marcus Sedgwick, is the latest addition to the publisher’s monograph series – beautiful books which explore aspects of the natural world and the rich variety of places in which the authors live. Echoing the six sides of a snowflake, the six chapters in this highly readable study delve into the science and art of snow – its impact on literature, folklore, exploration and scientific progress, on those who have experienced its power to trigger awe and fear.
The author now lives in the French Alps but spent his childhood in rural Kent where he remembers there being more snow than typically falls today. Despite its ability to throw travel plans into disarray he associates it with freedom. A deep covering would have prevented him and his brother from attending their hated school leading to fun and imaginative play. The transformed world offered a blank canvas, an empty page on which to create. The muffled silence and crisp cleanliness belyed the potential dangers. He goes on to discuss this in some depth.
Music and literature use snow as a backdrop to terror. Historic explorers have been trapped, frozen or maimed. Snow has physically shaped the mountains and valleys. The modern world is impotent when a heavy fall cuts off communications.
The author looks not just at the physical but also the emotional impact of snow on the human psyche. He talks of ancient stories, mythical figures, and the powerful forces an accumulation of these flakes can unleash. There is much to consider and take in.
The quality of the writing ensures that the ideas are never difficult to process. As befits the subject, it is a captivating read.
“Snow ranks amongst the greatest forces in the natural world […] the result of the humble snowflake, tiny and almost weightless. Minuscule, intricately beautiful too”
Snowfall has transformed the world in many ways. This book will enable readers to look at its arrival this winter through a newly polished lens.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Little Toller.