Departures: 5 Classics from the Land

Departures by Dublin Book Festival is a series that explores the influence of the Irish landscape, spaces and places on contemporary Irish writers and musicians. Landscape and significant settings, however, are an important part of many of the world’s greatest works of literature. Here, we bring you a list of 5 classics that are inspired by and feature a significant piece of landscape, space or place. 

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)

Is there a more dramatic or inspiring setting than the moors of Wuthering Heights? If you’re anything like poet Alice Kinsella, who revealed in Volume 2 of Departures that she was obsessed with moorlands in her late teens, then this book is an important step in your understanding and appreciation of expressive landscape in literature. 

  1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891)

Hardy’s powerfully visual masterpiece Tess of The D’Urbervilles is a perfect example of the impact of place. His use of the pastoral landscape mirrors Tess’ arc, from naive maiden to murderess. This link between the landscape and the heroine’s journey has allowed readers to fully immerse themselves in Hardy’s world.

  1. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)

How could we write this list without including the infamous Ulysses by James Joyce? The Dublin writer’s exploration through the streets of Dublin is known for its detail and ability to submerge you in the city of Dublin. Like Jane Clarke mentioned in Volume 1 of Departures, writing forces you to get into the details. 

  1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

Set in England, this novel was the most popular of Burnett’s. The Secret Garden explores boundaries, hidden landscapes, and secret spaces in a way that has repeatedly captured audiences’ attention over the years. Seeking solace in a personal, caring landscape is a relatable literary metaphor which has ensured a continued readership of this novel. 

  1. Silas Marner by George Eliot (1861)

Eliot’s Silas Marner may be lesser known than her famous Middlemarch, but this novel is a beautiful depiction of the value of community, chosen family and neighbourliness within a landscape. In previous episodes of Departures, both Jane Clarke and Mike McCormack spoke of the importance of understanding community as an integral part of any landscape. 

Can you think of any other classic piece of literature with a strong sense of place? Let us know over on twitter at @dublinbookfest. Join us next Tuesday for the final episode of Departures by Dublin Book Festival where we’ll be visiting Cork to chat to writers Billy O’Callaghan and Alice Taylor.