Entering the Stone

On Caves and Feeling through the Dark

Title Details

Pages: 184

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.250in



Pub Date: 06/01/2008

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3153-9

List Price: $21.95

Related Subjects

NATURE / Essays

Entering the Stone

On Caves and Feeling through the Dark

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  • Description
  • Reviews
In this exhilarating work, Barbara Hurd explores some of the most extraordinary places on earth, from sacred caves in India to secret caves in Arizona. With passionately informed prose, Hurd makes these strange dark spaces come to light, illuminating the natural history and spiritual territory of caves as powerfully as Kathleen Norris portrayed the Dakotas. Entering the Stone provides an awe-inducing tour through a fragile and beautiful subterranean world.

Reading Entering the Stone is not unlike exploring a cave system. The layout may be unclear. Some quarters may be confined. But then, unexpectedly, a seemingly unconnected chamber will converge with other passages and you find yourself in an expansive space and feel you've encountered something enlightening.

New York Times Book Review

In this profound and beautifully written exploration of caves and caving, Hurd describes not only her initiation into the stony earth but also the full range of human depths. Geology and spiritual discovery in this book are one, the evolution of Hurd's knowledge of stalactites and sightless cave fish inseparable from her encounter with fear and mystery, invisibility and intimacy, eros and grief, life and death. Entering the Stone is a masterpiece of the interior world.

—Jane Hirshfield, author of After: Poems

[An] exquisite meditation on caves and their peculiar power . . . While plenty of writers have navigated this territory before, Entering the Stone seems destined to stand out among books on spelunking. There is a natural link between caves and the stalactite-covered hollows of the human heart, which Hurd plays up with elegant restraint.

—John Freeman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An often unnerving exploration of stone . . . A wild cave is an inscrutable space, writes Hurd, heavily symbolic, weirdly inhabited, full of squirmings. You can't see what you feel, but you sure can feel it. . . . Hurd knows she'll never understand the exact source of a cave's power, but the underground works for her.

Kirkus Reviews

This is not a sensationalist adventure story but rather a sometimes mystical journey of discovery into the hidden recesses of the mind.

Library Journal

Here was an outdoorswoman who also thinks; a naturalist who, back indoors, reads and then writes. But bog turtles were just a prelude. All this while Hurd has been into something larger and darker-caves.

—James Bready, The Sun

Hurd chronicles her experiences in these dark spaces and her intertwining journeys into fear, loss, intimacy and spirituality. Along the way, she opens our eyes to the beauty and fragility of this subterranean world.

Nature Conservancy

Using a venerable literary device, Hurd explores her inner life through her fascination with caving. Her meditative, flowing prose pauses on sundry people and events in her life, which she illuminates through descriptions and comparisons with her physical surroundings in the subterranean world.


About the Author/Editor

BARBARA HURD is the author of Stirring the Mud, Entering the Stone, Walking the Wrack Line, and a collection of poetry, The Singer’s Temple. Her work has appeared in Best American Essays, the Yale Review, the Georgia Review, Orion, and Audubon. She is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction, winner of the Sierra Club’s National Nature Writing Award, five PushcartPrizes, five Maryland State Arts Council Awards, and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.