The Immeasurable World

The Immeasurable World

ISBN
9780571319725
Published
07/06/2018
9780571319725
Format
Hardback
Price
£20.00
Paperback
416

About the Book

For all the desert's dreamlike beauty, to travel here was not just to pitch yourself into oblivion: it was to grind away at yourself until nothing was left. It was to aspire to the condition of sand.

One third of the earth’s land surface is desert, much of it desolate and inhospitable. What is it about this harsh environment that has captivated humankind throughout history? From the prophets of the Bible to Marco Polo, Lawrence of Arabia to Gertrude Bell, travellers have often seen deserts as cursed places to be avoided, or crossed as quickly as possible. But for those whose call deserts home, the ‘hideous blanks’ described by explorers are rich in resources and significance.

Travelling to five continents over three years, visiting deserts both iconic and little-known, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. His journey takes him to the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter and Australia’s nuclear-test grounds; the dry Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and ‘sand seas’ of China’s volatile north-west; the contested borderlands of Arizona and the riotous Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert; and the ancient monasteries of Egypt’s Eastern Desert. Along the way, Atkins illuminates the people, history, topography, and symbolism of these remarkable but often troubled places.

Reviving the illustrious British tradition of travel writing, The Immeasurable World is destined to become a classic of desert literature.

For all the desert's dreamlike beauty, to travel here was not just to pitch yourself into oblivion: it was to grind away at yourself until nothing was left. It was to aspire to the condition of sand. One third of the earth’s land surface is desert, much of it desolate and inhospitable. What is it about this harsh environment that has captivated humankind throughout history? From the prophets of the Bible to Marco Polo, Lawrence of Arabia to Gertrude Bell, travellers have often seen deserts as cursed places to be avoided, or crossed as quickly as possible. But for those whose call deserts home, the ‘hideous blanks’ described by explorers are rich in resources and significance.Travelling to five continents over three years, visiting deserts both iconic and little-known, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. His journey takes him to the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter and Australia’s nuclear-test grounds; the dry Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and ‘sand seas’ of China’s volatile north-west; the contested borderlands of Arizona and the riotous Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert; and the ancient monasteries of Egypt’s Eastern Desert. Along the way, Atkins illuminates the people, history, topography, and symbolism of these remarkable but often troubled places.Reviving the illustrious British tradition of travel writing, The Immeasurable World is destined to become a classic of desert literature.
  • William Atkins

    William Atkins’s first book, The Moor, was shortlisted for the Thwaites Wainwright Prize. He works as an editor and his journalism has appeared in the Guardian and Granta. In 2016 he was a recipient of the British Library Eccles Prize. He lives in London.

“The Earth's surface may be two-thirds sea, but of its land, one-third is desert: an equally shifting, fluid place, fugitive and untold. Until Will Atkins came along. In sublime prose that veers from startling human and natural history to dreamlike personal experience, The Immeasurable World brings apparently barren places to life in a brilliant, revelatory narrative. The author becomes a kind of sensor in the wilderness, electrically gathering together these stories. The result is is a book in which to get lost and find another world: not an arid, blank waste, but a richer, more extraordinary place than we ever suspected.”
- Philip Hoare
“Being a bit of a desert rat, I began The Immeasurable World with interest and finished enthralled and grievously enlightened. The strangeness and inhospitable nature of the world’s great deserts—and they are so variously singular—have not prevented humankind from assaulting and perverting their inconsolable beauties. William Atkins is an erudite writer with a wonderful wit and gaze and this is a new and exciting beast of a travel book.”
- Joy Williams

Books by this Author

The Moor

The Moor

William Atkins

The Immeasurable World

The Immeasurable World

William Atkins