Stones of Aran: Labyrinth
by Tim Robinson, introduction by John Elder
Tim Robinson’s Stones of Aran is one of the most striking and original literary undertakings of our time. Robinson’s ambition is to find out both what it is to know a landscape, know it as extensively and intimately as possible, and what it takes to make that knowledge, the sense of the landscape itself, come alive in writing. It is a project that draws on the legacies of Thoreau and Joyce, to which Robinson brings his own polymathic gifts as cartographer, mathematician, historian, and, above all, shaper of words.
In Pilgrimage Robinson walked the entire coast of Áirann, largest of the Aran islands. In Labyrinth he turns in to the island’s interior. These two books—parts of an inseparable whole that can, for all that, be read quite separately from each other—constitute a vast polyphonic composition, at once encyclopedic and lyrical, scientific and surprisingly personal. Exploring the illimitable complexity and bounty contained in the seemingly limited confines of a single island, Robinson invites us to look without and within and to see the wonder of the world.
Looked upon with a tactful, eager, strategic care that is as tender in its address as an admission of love...Robinson's Aran will, inevitably, become part of the general myth. It is a wonderful achievement.
— Seamus Deane, London Review of Books
A kind of travel writing The New Yorker sometimes sponsors: a virtuosity of gratuitous fact-gathering, a penitential recording of minutiae, a recitation of information as if it were prayer.
— The New York Times
An exquisitely detailed portrait of a special landscape, this is a gem-like addition to the travel genre.
— Publishers Weekly
Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage and Labyrinth...[are] a necessity for all visitors and walkers.
— The Guardian