A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit


Summary from Goodreads:

A Field Guide to Getting Lost draws on emblematic moments and relationships in Solnit’s own life to explore the issues of wandering, being lost, and the uses of the unknown. The result is a distinctive, stimulating, and poignant voyage of discovery.

This one was recommended to me by a friend – I’ve had my eye on Solnit for a while. Notable for popularising the idea of “mansplaining,” Solnit seemed to me like the kind of new philosopher/cultural theorist that I could really get stuck into. This is my first foray into her work and I must admit it wasn’t an entirely successful encounter.

I should make it clear, philosophy isn’t really my thing; my review will definitely be tainted by my own ignorance. Solnit’s writing is beautiful, poetic, and meditative:

Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar fading away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing.” (page 22)

Some things we only have for as long as they remain lost, some things are not lost only so long as they are distant.” (page 41)

But despite the loveliness of the above quotes I just couldn’t get into it. Definitely too philosophical for my taste – I found her use of stream of consciousness lovely to read but difficult to follow. This might be more telling of my intelligence (!) than Solnit’s writing.

I was interested in reading a few other essay collections by Solnit but this one has sorta put me off. Should I try again?


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