THE MOUNTAIN SPIRIT Edited by Michael Charles Tobias and Harold Drasdo The Overlook Press: Woodstock, 1979. 264 pp., $14.95 (paper).

SACRED MOUNTAINS IN CHINESE ART by Kiyohiko Munakata The University of illinois Press: Urbana and Chicago, 1991. 200 pp., $39.95 (paper).

SACRED MOUNTAINS OF THE WORLD by Edwin Sernbaum Sierra Club Books: San Francisco, 1990. 291 pp., $50.00 (cloth).


MOUNTAINS generate paradoxical words in humans as naturally and ceaselessly, it seems, as they generate clouds, mist, snow, ice, and headwaters. Why do we climb mountains? Because they’re there, said mountain-master Mallory. And why do we write, paint, and photograph mountains? Because we’re here.

The Mountain Spirit begins with an essay on “Modesty and the Conquest of Mountains” by Arne Naess, the Norwegian philosopher of Deep Ecology. The essay concludes with modest, plainspoken common sense:

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