Václav Cílek

To Breathe with Birds

Dýchat s ptáky
Dýchat s ptáky
Dokořán, 2008
Language: Czech
E: cilek@gli.cas.cz

From the English edition:

Just as there is love at first sight between people, Václav Cílek writes, there can be love at first sight between a person and a place. A landscape is more than a location, it is one party in a relationship—even when the spirit of a certain setting is not perceptible to those who visit. But whether we travel to experience rapture or excitement, to discover truth and beauty, or to be dazzled, we search for the essence of faraway landscapes to gain perspective on our own place within the world. To Breathe with Birds delves into the imaginative and emotional bonds we form with landscapes and how human existence—a recent development, geologically speaking—shapes and is shaped by a sense of place.

In subtle and lyrical prose, renowned geologist and author Václav Cílek explores topics from the history of asphalt to the spirits we imagine in trees, from geodiversity to the mathematics of snowflakes. Weaving earth science and environmentalism together with memoir and myth, his chapters visit resonant locations from India to Massachusetts, though most are deeply rooted in the river-laced, war-scarred landscape of Cílek’s Czech homeland.


“Cílek writes beautifully of the species-wide sacredness of old forests, ‘the cathedral of the deer’; the way old stones and small natural monuments are vehicles for memory; and the possibility that our inner life may be defined by the landscape of our childhood and the objects we touched in it.”

—Kapka Kassabova, The Times Literary Supplement

Selected published translations (1)

To Breathe with Birds: A Book of Landscapes English

Language: Czech
Title: Dýchat s ptáky
Place: Praha
Publisher: Dokořán
Year: 2008