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The Magician's Glass: thoughts from young blood

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Magician's Glass by Ed Douglas

Over the summer, we have been lucky enough to be joined by some budding publishers from nearby universities, to enable them to gain some real-life work experience at a publishing house.

One of the tasks these lovely students completed while they were with us was to write a review of one of our latest titles, The Magician’s Glass, by Ed Douglas. I asked them to choose an essay from the book that most intrigued them, have a read over a cup of coffee, and write down some thoughts on the piece.

I was interested to see that English degree student Steph Quinn and Publishing master’s student Diana Alves both chose to read Lines of Beauty: The Art of Climbing. I’m delighted to be able to share their evaluations with you.

Thank you Steph and Diana for such beautifully written and positive comments; we are thrilled you enjoyed it!

Camilla Barnard, VP Editor


Steph Quinn, 14 July 2017

Concluding his latest book, The Magicians Glass, Ed Douglas’s essay Lines of Beauty: the Art of Climbing evokes the true essence of climbing. As with the climbers he depicts, Ed’s writing follows an almost choreographed fluidity, allowing his readers to immerse themselves completely into his written world.

Tinctured with nostalgia, Ed’s essay reveals his desire to save the world of climbing from the faceless giant of commercialism.  Entwining a series of anecdotes, the essay demonstrates with feeling the real heart of climbing, the people and passions that shape, and are shaped, by their involvement in the sport.

Capturing the spirituality of climbing Ed claims that, ‘it is not enough to look at landscapes; they have to be experienced’, perfectly demonstrating his ability to convey the depths (or heights) to which climbers reach, enabling them to embody and absorb their surroundings.

An alternative approach to the subject of climbing, Ed recreates the true wonders of climbing on the page, illustrating how the art of climbing goes beyond the physical structures and shapes that are created in the mountains. Ed recollects the encouragement of his friend to take aspects of the mountain and ‘make it yours’; I would advance that encouragement to anyone thinking of reading this brilliant book.


Diana Alves, 7 July 2017

In Lines of Beauty: the Art of Climbing, Ed Douglas introduces us to different artists and climbers such as Andy Parkin, Jim Curran, Alfred Heaton Cooper and Johnny Dawes. Throughout this chapter, Douglas critiques the modern ways of climbing, such as only doing it as a sport and not for the love of mountains, the manipulation of digital photography, the focus on the instantaneous extreme and the quantity of information that is available nowadays. He presents these different climbers and artists by also reflecting on his own experience and what it means to be a climber.

The book is ideal for anyone interested in art, climbing and the different individuals that shaped its history. The Magician’s Glass is a must-have for all new and modern climbers to reflect on the history of this sport and learn from those who have had years of experience.

Ed Douglas’s writing is beautiful and poetic. He describes his own thoughts and experiences through graceful sentences and with an incredible sense of self. His anecdotes are interesting, relevant and somewhat philosophical. It is interesting how he focuses on both past and present, making relevant references to the past about what is happening at the moment.

The comparison of climbing with art was something I never thought about before. I did not think about it as art per se. However, Douglas describes paintings and sculptures so beautifully that it would be now impossible to see climbing as something other than art. He states that one can just go and climb to have that experience without having to go to an art gallery, but art helps one understand what has been experienced.

Although the anecdotes are entertaining and interesting, I particularly enjoyed his reflections about his own experience compared to the climbers and artist he talked to.

The book finishes with an appeal to climbers to enjoy the experience and not the spotlight. So far, this is one of my favourite stories about climbing.


The Magician's Glass by Ed Douglas

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