"Arctic Dreams" was recommended to me by a friend before I went on an Alaskan adventure a few years ago. This book expanded my vision of nature, and turned me on to the exquisite writing of Barry Lopez, who won the 1986 National Book Award for this classic work on the wild regions of the far north. "Arctic Dreams" is an extraordinary celebration of Arctic life and landscape which takes the reader on a journey to places rarely visited by man. Lopez' narrative does have a dreamlike quality, not only in its descriptions of nature at its most surreal, but in the absolute beauty of the writing itself. He does indeed capture the foreign reality of Arctic life, and death, with the loving care of an artist who places each brushstroke carefully on a canvas, bent on bringing the vision before him to others.
Mr. Lopez made a number of extended trips to Siberia, Greenland, and northern Canada, including Baffin Island, to observe the flora and fauna of the region - polar bears, killer whales, caribou, narwhals - as well as the spectacular Arctic landscape. He experienced eerie encounters with the aurora borealis, massive migrating icebergs, solar and lunar light, halos and coronas. And he experienced both the potential for catastrophic danger and the remarkable beauty that the Arctic land and sea offers. "Spring storms can sweep hundreds of thousands of helpless infant harp seals into the sea" - juxtaposed with, "A tiny flower blooms in a field of snow touched by the sun's benevolent light." Through Mr. Lopez' eyes the breathtaking experience of the Arctic landscape and the people who inhabit it become palpably real. I was particularly moved by his intimate and compassionate descriptions of the indigenous people of this region, who so aptly illustrate how mankind is capable of living in harmony with his surroundings. Lopez' prose and his conclusions make the strongest argument possible to work for the ecological health of our planet, for the sake of life itself, and for the health of our imagination and sense of wonder at the magnificent.
As mankind grows closer to conquering the earth's last frontiers, the issue of exploitation and encroachment becomes greater. For anyone who advocates preserving the few remaining wild areas on our planet, "Arctic Dreams" is a welcome gift and a source of motivation. It also provides an extraordinary read, and, perhaps, an awakening to those who have shown little interest in earth's most mysterious places.
This is a magical book that will enchant and awe the reader. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Bravo, Barry Lopez!