The Moor: Lives Landscape Literature
by William Atkins
400 pages. Published by Faber, May 2014.
Reviewed by Ben Myers
If the woodlands are the lungs of the land and the rivers the veins through which the lifeblood of Britain courses, then the moors must surely be something less intangible The subconscious perhaps – that great untapped area so infrequently enjoyed or inhabited.
The national psyche has it that the nothing good happens up on these damp, dark elevated places that form a backbone up through Britain. Historically the moors belong to doomed Cathy and savage, cast-out Heathcliff. To Myra and Ian, trudging through the Saddleworth sod with spade and torch and tape recorder. To cinematic American students lost in the fog as something skulks and growls, off-screen and unseen, Brian Glover’s words echoing in their ears. The moors belong to howling hounds and crime scene cordons. To soil so acidic it can corrode concrete dams and runnels, and in which nothing worthwhile (translation: consumable) can grow.