The Language of Landscape, Paperback
2.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


This study suggests that the language of landscape exists with its own syntax, grammar, and metaphors, and that we imperil ourselves by failing to learn and speak this language.

Spirn examines urban, rural and natural landscapes, and discusses the thought of renowned landscape authors.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, 84 illustrations
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Landscape art & architecture
  • ISBN: 9780300082944



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Anne Whiston Spirn has a lot of truly important and enlightening things to say in "The Language of Landscape". Unfortunately, she makes the reader slog through an indulgent and contrived writing style in order to understand her. At the end of the chapter, "Language of Landscape", she explained how a person fluent in its elements could "read" a landscape, and how this is crucial to understanding the world. Yet she never fully articulates this in the following chapter, "Elements of Landscape and Language", with anything more than impressionistic vignettes of places she has visited. It was not at all what I was expecting, and left me frustrated and wondering what point she was trying (and failing) to make. There are flashes of clarity, specifically when writing about specific case studies and experiences with students. In these passages, the writing is more direct and very readable. The second half of the book was excellent, especially the study of landscape and memory in Berlin. These passages are what "saved" the book for me and kept me reading.For contrast, I think that JB Jackson does a better job of weaving his theory with his stories and experiences. Beginners to landscape studies may find him more accessable. Spirn's points are there for those who want to dig for them, but sometimes it's unclear if it's worth it.

Review by

An important book, if not necessarily a wholly engrossing one... the hippie-dippy tone gets repetetive and I wish the writing were less consistently vague.

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