The Idea of North by Peter Davidson
As with the compass needle, so people have always been most powerfully attracted northwards; everyone carries within them their own concept of north. The Idea of North is a study, ranging widely in time and place, of some of the ways in which these ideas have found expression. Offering engaging meditation on solitude, absence and stillness, Davidson shows north to be a goal rather than a destination, a place of revelation that is always somewhere ultimate and austere.
Peter Davidson explores the topography of north as represented in images and literature, taking in Netherlandic winter paintings of the Renaissance, German Romantic landscapes, Scandinavian Biedermeyer and twentieth-century topographical painting and printmaking. The work of artists Andy Goldsworthy, Eric Ravilious and Ian Hamilton Finlay are examined, as well as the work of literary figures including W. H. Auden, Cecil Day-Lewis and John Buchan. He examines a bewildering diversity of mythologies and imaginings of north, including The Snow Queen; Scandinavian Sagas; ghost-stories; Moomintrolls, Arctic exploration; the fictitious snowy kingdoms of Zembla and Naboland; Nabokov's nostalgias; Baltic midsummer; rooms in winter light; compasses and star-stones; hoar-frost; ice and glass.