it is a great art to saunter

If I were to describe Olivia Laing’s To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface in one word, I would call it slentrendewhich is a Norwegia word for saunting:

A verb of unconfirmed origin, saunter means to “walk with a leisurely gait.” As a noun, saunter describes that leisurely gait. Henry David Thoreau once said “it is a great art to saunter.” 

In To the River Laing walks & writes along the river Ouse from its source to the sea, keeping company with Virginia Woolf as she strolls along. Laing is developing the art of sauntering beautifully, as she let historical facts and anecdotes mix in with her own story.

I’ve not yet finished reading the book, really its the kind of book you don’t want to end – it stitches together nature writing, cultural history & literature in a poetic and mindfull way…


10 Comments Add yours

  1. The Saunter is also a dance, and I agree it is a great art! (easy to do it badly, difficult to do it well)

    1. Sigrun says:

      Interesting … Rhythm, lightfootedness (if there is such a word) – fits well with my impressions of this book

  2. elimelike says:

    What a nice coincidence. Tree days ago, I had a walk from Saltdean to Rodmell, finishing my walk at the river Ouse. I still think about sea mist over the South Downs that enveloped me and have a strong desire to go back. I haven’t heard about this book before and I very much look forward to reading it. Thank you. Emina

    1. Sigrun says:

      Lucky you – I’d love to visit this area!

  3. dianajhale says:

    I have this book but haven’t read it yet! I love ‘slentrende’ – it is very evocative.

  4. Walt Whitman was also a fan of sauntering. He called himself a loafer, and idler, but what he did as often as lie about was to saunter around.

  5. Kim says:

    I just finished this book, and through some googling I ended up at your blog. first: your blog is wonderful. second: this book is amazing. lovely details, wonderful writing.
    by the way: the dutch word voor sauntering is ‘slenteren’, a lot like your ‘slentrende’. just thought I’d share 🙂

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you so much for visiting!
      I went to Amsterdam some weeks ago, and discovered that I could pick up some words here & there, but unfortunately not enough to read your blog, which is a pity – because it seems you are reading & writing about stuff to my liking.
      (e.g I have the Rilke book on my shelf)…

      1. Kim says:

        my English isn’t good enough to write blogs, I really wish it was..

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