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To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne (2019)

por Alistair Moffat

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473543,548 (3.68)4
This journey to Lindisfarne is a meditation on the power of place, from the historian and award-winning author of The Hidden Ways.
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A history of the Island of Lindisfarne and the resident saint, Saint Cuthbert. Equal parts personal history and Medieval history it's alright. Not earth shattering but a pleasant journey. ( )
1 vote charlie68 | May 5, 2023 |
A bit of a disappointment. I know Holy Island and it has some nostalgia and sentiment for me. Mr Moffat is a resident of the Scottish borders and a prolific writer on its history. This book is in that vein. He selects St Cuthbert, who was born in the borders, and follows his path into holy orders and on to Lindisfarne. So there is a lot of history here. Giving the sense that much of it is recycled from others of his books. There's also a lot of him and his thoughts, which aren't by any means a bad thing to have in a book, but he just wasn't very interesting. St Cuthbert is important but there's much more to Holy Island than the saint. Mr Moffat missed a lot. ( )
  Steve38 | Dec 3, 2019 |
Alistair Moffat is a Scottish author and historian. He worked in television for 20 years and some of his books have been made into TV series. This is a somewhat innovative book with a mix of history, travel and memoir as Moffat walks from the birthplace of St. Cuthbert in Scotland to the 'Holy Island of Lindisfarne' off the coast of north-east England near the Scottish border, where Cuthbert became a bishop. Moffat, who is non-religious and in his 70s, takes short day trips in segments being not far from where he lives on a farm. He pokes around in stream-beds and villages. Along the way he attempts to imagine the world of the 7th century and sees historical continuities in the landscape and built places. He recounts events in Cutherbert's life, and also his own. Mid-way into the book he finally reaches Lindisfarne and gives a good description of what its like there, which Google Maps Street View compliments. Apparently the island is a popular tourist destination for walking about the Abby ruins, eating caloric-heavy restaurant meals and generally reflecting on life.

This is hyper-local in scope, often about Moffat himself, but it succeeds in being an overview of an important and famous Medieval figure who was among the first generation of Anglo-Saxon's to convert to Christianity. The early converts believed that by literally copying they could achieve greater renown with God - the island was in effect a desert (lots of sand, far away from people) and the monks could mimic an aesthetic life, like the desert fathers of Egypt such as St. Anthony. In another example, there is a story of a group of monks who travel, they are 13 in number, the same as Christ and his 12 disciples - they literally incorporated the written gospel into their lives, mirroring it. In a way, tourists today are mirroring Cuthbert by traveling to the island and reflecting on life. Eventually Cutherbert dies and Moffat reflects on his own past and impending death and how Lindisfarne allowed him a greater sense of clarity. This is a calm, reflective book about a remote place whose connections to a deep past are seen through Moffat's imagination. ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | Aug 15, 2019 |
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This journey to Lindisfarne is a meditation on the power of place, from the historian and award-winning author of The Hidden Ways.

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