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A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  244 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
A Book of Migrations is a postcolonial revision of conventional travel literature. In her passage through Ireland, Rebecca Solnit portrays in microcosm a history made of great human tides of invasion, colonization, emigration, nomadism and tourism. Her observations carve a new3 route through Ireland’s history, literature and landscape.
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published June 17th 1997 by Verso (first published 1997)
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Barbara
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure when I read it but it was beautifully written. I am reading a recent book by Solnit The Mother of All Questions, a stunning feminist tract. She is an exceptional writer and I recommend readers of her recent work who are interested in Ireland, read this book.
Dave
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starting this I was a little worried that it might be one of those books that basically just glorifies travelling and the stupid upper-class liberal belief that everyone needs to "see the world." Being a big advocate for localization and simple living I just have no patience for that idea at this point. Fortunately though Rebecca Solnit is sort of into a lot of the same things I am and therefore puts a little more of a radical spin on the topic than the typical travelogue. This leads to some int ...more
Shanta
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This blend of history, natural science, and (mostly literary) cultural reflections in a travel journal format links Rebecca Solnit's personal journey to place both in terms of political-social identity and the physical, living environment. Her writing contains that elusive mixture of information, context and reflection which distinguishes the shared experience and insight of a personally and socially true story from non-fiction writing that poses as being merely informational while leaving out m ...more
Cody
Drawing parallels between her actual homeland of California and ancestral homeland of Ireland, Rebecca Solnit pens a prismatic travel tale, a journey that’s as much inward as outward and as much about the act of travel as traveling in a specific locale. Book of Migrations is a kind of history book, too, one that muddies the usual takes on the past by mingling the personal and the marginalized with the ascendant and traditional.

Throughout, Solnit attempts to situate herself and those she encount
...more
Padraic
Pure coincidence I found this book. Solnit is a great, great writer. That she wrote something in my narrow area of interest is one of the best pieces of luck I've had as a reader. Deep, fluid, incredibly intelligent. If George Elliot had written a guide to Connemara, it might read like this.
Sara
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She's such a great writer, and I loved hearing her thoughts on many aspects of Ireland. This was written in the mid to late 1990's. I think Ireland has changed a lot in the 20+ years since then.
Josephine Ensign
Oct 17, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love Ireland and all its complexities. I bought and read this book hoping to expand my knowledge of and complicate my thoughts about Ireland. I also bought/read the book wanting to finally find a book by Solnit that I could like. I suppose it is a personal style issue but I find her writing to be highly irritating--the lengthy digressions--the solipsism...With this book I tried hard to suspend my judgements and search hard for what other readers find to be good in her writing, but I admit defe ...more
Kate
One I'd started ages ago. Interesting musings about home and about Ireland. My favorite was a passage about how, growing up in California, it seemed like history was something that took place out east or in Europe, and that it made her feel like she'd been colonized. It struck a chord with me, even though I come from a place (Texas) that is pretty good about taking pride in local history... for two grades out of twelve.
Pat
Nov 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Solnit is a very good writer, but too discursive, rambling and ruminative for my tastes. It's hard work for the rewards. That said, I recommend the book for its portrait of the Tinkers, aka, the Travellers, as the Irish gypsies prefer to call themselves.
Lisa Houlihan
Wandering through Ireland, foot and soul.
Keith Skinner
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I also want to weave history and culture into my travel narratives. Who better to learn from than one of the great provocative essayists?

I read the original edition from 1997. Though all the essays resonate with Solnit's characteristic brilliance, not all of them were successful, in my opinion. "The Book of Invasions," one of the first essays, was masterful in places but fell flat in others. For my taste, I found that Solnit's revelations about Ireland's early history we
...more
Christina Roman
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most beautiful books on travel; the act itself and what it means. Though at times the book becomes overly dense as she reaches for meanings in every corner of her experience and literary passions, it is forgivable because she often finds a glimmer of truth that sparks off the page. I found myself going slowly through this book since I was so often confronted ideas I wanted to sit with and digest, ideally while staring out a train window at a strange countryside.

This is a book I would
...more
Catherine
I read this book commuting on the bus and between classes and waiting for friends at cafés and migrated with it in my mind. This book is objectively about Ireland but I’m going to remember it as having been about Argentina. I loved it. I really really loved it.
Kevin
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
nice meandering
Marion Grau
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Solnit. Great stuff. Sometimes i wish she would go a bit deeper.
Scott
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my year of reading Rebecca Solnit. In January, a friend sent me Hope in the Dark, which encouraged me out of inaugural despair and into renewed activism. Then, I picked up Wanderlust, Solnit's book on walking -- and went on walkabout, trying out the ways of walking as I read her essays. And then, as I set out to Ireland for vacation, I ran across this book of her Irish essays. Five-star books, all.

In this book, Solnit offers up essays, ruminations, from her travels through Ireland -- one
...more
Robert
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rebecca Solnit

A Book of Migrations is a perambulating accounting of Solnit's perambulation of Ireland (mostly, the rural West) and her thoughts about growing up in California. The book ends up a cross between a diary, a rambling conversation, and a series of related long reads.

Possibly the most fascinating part of the book for me was her meetings with and descriptions of The Travellers, an aspect of Irish culture that I'm almost embarrassed to admit I did not know existed. The Travellers, a.k.a.
...more
Spiros
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those moved by transience
Shelves: remainders
A rich meditation on transience, an exploration of related themes of exile, invasion, cultural appropriation, tourism, and travel as both an escape from the quotidian realities and as its own culture (the Travellers), this narrative of a walking tour of the West of Ireland engendered a mimetic sense that I spent as much time reading the book as the author did on her journey. I am surprised to note that it has only been a week. Of course, being the sedentary, parochial sort that I am, the passage ...more
Brinley
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an American with Irish blood myself, this book was miiighty personal to me as urges to connect with or visit my ancestral roots keep finding a way to settle in my conscience. I probably wouldn't recommend this to very many people because I think the reason I loved it so much was solely because of my personal connection and relation to the subject. HOWEVER, Solnit does present a lot of meditations on the idea of migration, or the idea of a sense of place and what makes a person "native", by co ...more
Kelly Gu
I loved Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost and had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, the discursiveness and the back-and-forth between personal/anecdotal and historical/philosophical/critical that worked so well in A Field Guide fell flat for me here. Solnit has the ability to craft perfect paragraphs and half-pages of prose that make a phenomenon or connection clearer than almost any other author I've read, but to get between these gems in this book was a bit of a slog. Maybe I'd like ...more
Emily
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"A Book of Migrations" gives insight into Ireland, English colonialism, and Irish immigration to
North America in a way that a college class I took in Irish literature did
not. Getting insights into Ireland is not why I read it--I've simply been on
a Solnit kick. Because it is a Solnit book, it is about where she is from as
much as it is about where she is traveling. She compares the colonization of
Ireland to the colonization of California. What she has to say definitely
makes me want to learn more a
...more
Gary Quien
Feb 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rebecca hikes through the rural west of Ireland, staying in some small towns and musing on walking, Ireland and its landscape and culture, and the migration of the Irish to the new world and beyond. Many interesting observation and insights, local color and history, with the section on the Travelers ("tinkers") being especially good.
Amanda
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
A beautiful, educational and worthwhile book on traveling, selfhood, and Ireland. One of those books that reminds me why I love language. Solnit's prose and fluid mixing of quotation, metaphor, observation, dialogue, and monologue remind me of Maggie Nelson. Can't wait to make my way through the rest of her bibliography!
Jien
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is another excellent book by Solnit. I'm not a fan of travel books but this is different... as much about history (both Irish and her own) and her own thoughts as about her journey.
Alison Amberg
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
makes me miss ireland. my extended weekend of it.
Mark
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book of Ireland, history, and introspection, with great insights into poetry and culture as well.
Seana
Jun 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to make for great preparation for my trip to Ireland a few years ago. Don't know why I haven't read more.
Roland Harrison
Sep 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
I found this really hard going. Felt like somebody's diary for themselves.
Nick B
rated it really liked it
Sep 19, 2016
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Rebecca Solnit is an American author who often writes on the environment, politics, place, and art. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian newspaper and Harper's Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851. She is also a regular contributor to the political blog TomDispatch and to LitHub.

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“I made my first home there and had been happy, because to be alienated in one's own country, in one's own hometown, among one's kin and peers, was problematic, but nothing could be more natural than to be alienated in a foreign country, and so there I had at last naturalized my estrangement. This may be one of the underappreciated pleasures of travel: of being at last legitimately lost and confused.” 3 likes
“Can one understand the presence of English literature without the absences of Irish literature? Are the presences in the former, at some level, bites taken out of the latter? Is England gardenlike because Ireland was prisonlike? Does the English pastoral, and the security and abundance it represents, depend on the impoverished land and people of other lands?” 1 likes
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