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The Voice That Thunders

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  113 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Alan Garner is an exceptional lecturer and essayist. This collection, taken from the work of more that twenty years, explores an enviable range of scholarly interests: archaeology, myth, language, education, philosophy, the spiritual quest, mental health, literature, music and film.

The book also serves as a poetic autobiography of one of England's best-loved but least publ
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 19th 2003 by Harvill Press, The (first published April 1st 1998)
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 ·  113 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Ari Berk
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who cares about story, place, the past, and our futures as storytelling animals would benefit from reading this book. I also think it would be of enormous benefit to teachers at every level. Absolute gold be savored.
G. Lawrence
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, lovely, enthralling, a collection of essays and speeches on writing, Garner's life. Highly recommended ...more
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 800s, non-fiction
Earlier this year I read The Owl Service by Alan Garner, and I had many many thoughts about it, and I enjoyed it a huge amount even if I wasn’t sure if I got everything that was going on. I will reread it at some point. But then I was ordering books at work and spotted The voice that thunders by Garner and said, ah sure lets give it a go. I’m sure some author recommended it somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me recall who or where.

And when it came in it sat on my trolley for many many months
Liam Guilar
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing

"It went through my head: if only would-be Doctors of Philosophy who write to me asking for opinions on my work and its relationships to structuralism, deconstructuralism, phenomenology, semiotics, reductionism, with special reference to sub-plot, after-plot, sub-vocalisation, not forgetting metacognition, if they could only see that writing lies more in trying to keep an old man's trousers up and that from such moments is born a "Strandloper'. (p228)

A books of essays and talks, one man's inves
T.E. Shepherd
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I began to read this book of essays and lectures with some trepidation. Since before my teenage years I have loved Alan Garner's books and have grown up with them at my side, but it has been a relationship that has become progressively difficult. His books, particularly Strandloper and Thursbitch, which can be near to incomprehensible. I was thus worried, that this book of essays would be a similarly difficult read.

I am so glad that I didn't let these concerns stop me from reading The Voice Tha
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, fiction
Amazing collection of essays, speeches and talks spanning more than thirty years by Garner, whose books I read and reread when I was young until I got to Red Shift, which broke my brain in a good way. This collection reflects his thinking on creativity and spirituality, the relationship between language and landscape, the functions and forms of myth, his attitudes to his own books being used as educational tools and his own mental health problems and the high frequency of manic-depression among ...more
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
as near to an autobiography as you can get.[return]a roughly chronological detail of the various things that have shaped alan garner's outlook and writing.[return]a pleasure to read in itself and also quite open and frank for an otherwise elusive writer.[return]a review can't really do it justice - if you like his work, then it should be on your bookshelf.[return][return]will probably be of interest to folk who have a professional interest in books, publishing and literature, together with peopl ...more
Mark Redman
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The voice that thunders, is a collection of essays written over two decades. It’s a rich collection, covering in the main his deep family connections to the landscape, language, archaeology, myth, education, a spiritual quest and mental health.

At times this is a deep and absorbing read, showing a great sense of time. It is written in a clear style that brings value and insight into everything he writes.

A pure gem of a book and a spiritual journey.

Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's taken me nearly a year to finish this. I wanted to savour it - I've not quite read a writer on writing like this before. Compelling, honest, and in the chapter 'Hard Cases' uproariously funny.
A beauty thing.
Highly recommended for those not in a tearing hurry.
Marc Cooper
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John Park
Nov 09, 2013 rated it liked it
This book of essays didn't give me quite what I was hoping for, whatever that was, but it's an interesting glimpse into the mind and life of Alan Garner.

He was born of a long line of craftsmen whose family had lived at Alderley Edge in Cheshire for at least four centuries. He was the first not to work with his hands and to get an education (regarded by the family as something like getting a car). He harboured a brief, and maybe not unrealistic, ambition to become Professor of Greek at Oxford but
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I can't really put it better than the Goodreads blurb. This book of essays is a fascinating insight into the mind of a very unusual and very talented writer.He is lucid and frank about his creative process, his episodes of mental illness and how they relate to the act of creation, and his passion for myth in its widest sense. Interesting asides on the teaching of English Literature in schools (exactly mirrors my experience and opinion of it) and archaeology. All, of course, suffused with his roo ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Oh dear, this is probably going to sound a bit odd to some people but I have to say it. I've been a great fan of Garner's books since I was at school, have read some of them to my children (who've also loved them). I've also been interested in the ideas that underlie his writing so was pleased to have the chance to read this selection of his other writings/essays/talks etc., and I WAS enjoying reading what he had to say. And then I read his comments about visiting Wales as an older school boy an ...more
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
A collection of lectures and articles that define a great artist. For most of my childhood I only knew Garner from his first 3 books Brisingamen, Gomrath and Elidor I had attempted the owl service aged around 10 but at that time I was too young to understand and didn't finish it, aged around 30 I found that I had been missing out on one of the greatest novels in the English language. Since than I have read all the rest of Garner's major works and found him to be a unique figure. "The Voice that ...more
Oct 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I love Garners early work but find his more recent books increasingly difficult to understand. Although this is more memoir told through a collection of essays and talks, sadly this too was tough going. Some was enjoyable but most just went over my head. Some interesting anecdotes but mostly disappointing.
J.S. Watts
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating insight into the writing and thought processes of Alan Garner. Thoughtful, insightful and at times positively poetic.
Cooper Renner
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mixed bag, as all collections of essays and lectures, are, but Garner is an almost unique voice in contemporary writing and well worth listening too.
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Alan Garner OBE (born 17 October 1934) is an English novelist who is best known for his children's fantasy novels and his retellings of traditional British folk tales. His work is firmly rooted in the landscape, history and folklore of his native county of Cheshire, North West England, being set in the region and making use of the native Cheshire dialect.

Born into a working-class family in Conglet

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“... I had never given much credence to the phenomenon of "writer's block". I was more inclined to think of it as "writer's impatience", and to follow Arthur Koestler's dictum: "Soak; and wait.” 18 likes
“I live, at all times, for imaginative fiction; for ambivalence, not instruction. When language serves dogma, then literature is lost. I live also, and only, for excellence. My care is not for the cult of egalitarian mediocrity that is sweeping the world today, wherein even the critics are no longer qualified to differentiate, but for literature, which you may notice I have not defined. I would say that, because of its essential ambivalence, 'literature' is: words that provoke a response; that invite the reader or listener to partake of the creative act. There can be no one meaning for a text. Even that of the writer is a but an option.

"Literature exists at every level of experience. It is inclusive, not exclusive. It embraces; it does not reduce, however simply it is expressed. The purpose of the storyteller is to relate the truth in a manner that is simple: to integrate without reduction; for it is rarely possible to declare the truth as it is, because the universe presents itself as a Mystery. We have to find parables; we have to tell stories to unriddle the world.

"It is a paradox: yet one so important I must restate it. The job of a storyteller is to speak the truth; but what we feel most deeply cannot be spoken in words. At this level only images connect. And so story becomes symbol; and symbol is myth."

"It is one of the main errors of historical and rational analysis to suppose that the 'original form' of myth can be separated from its miraculous elements. 'Wonder is only the first glimpse of the start of philosophy,' says Plato. Aristotle is more explicit: 'The lover of myths, which are a compound of wonders, is, by his being in that very state, a lover of wisdom.' Myth encapsulates the nearest approach to absolute that words can speak.”
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