My favorite prose on the subject [of walking] is Charles Dickens's "Night Walks," which he wrote some years after having suffered extreme insomnia that propelled him out into the London streets at night. Written with Dickens's usual brilliance, this haunting essay seems to hint at more than its words reveal. He associates his terrible night restlessness with what he calls "houselessness": under a compulsion to walk and walk and walk in the darkness and pattering rain. (No one has captured the romance of desolation, the ecstasy of near-madness, more forcibly than Dickens, so wrongly interpreted as a dispenser of popular, softhearted tales.)
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