Thursday, 3 May 2012



I have recently had the good fortune to read this magical book by Kathleen Jamie.  Jamie writes about her journeys to remote areas of Scotland, such as St. Kilda, and accompanies research parties to help and observe.  She also travels to Northern Europe, in this book to Bergen, to visit the Whale Museum.

She is interested in Scottish archaeology, and also in the history of whaling, so often melancholy and abusive and so entrenched in our consciousness.  She finds many monuments to the whale, frequently in the shape of huge jaw bones shaped into a massive arch, or even the odd eardrum or vertebra.

Jamie combines erudition with a profound appreciation of the everyday and the overlooked.  Sometimes this combination is disconcerting.  I think:  is she an expert or a dilettante?  how can she find time for all these journeys?  She wears her learning lightly, however, and I have to take her as I find her, a delightful and entrancing writer who expands my mind and soul.  A further reflection - Jamie is a philosophy graduate.  I see her writing has philosophy made material.

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