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May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM By James Attlee

Through the centuries, people from all walks of life have heard the siren call of a pilgrimage, the lure to journey away from the familiar in search of understanding But is a pilgrimage even possible these days for city dwellers enmeshed in the pressures of work and family life Or is there a way to be a pilgrim without leaving one s life behind James Attlee answers theThrough the centuries, people from all walks of life have heard the siren call of a pilgrimage, the lure to journey away from the familiar in search of understanding But is a pilgrimage even possible these days for city dwellers enmeshed in the pressures of work and family life Or is there a way to be a pilgrim without leaving one s life behind James Attlee answers these questions with Isolarion, a thoughtful, streetwise, and personal account of his pilgrimage to a place he thought he already knew the Cowley Road in Oxford, right outside his door.Isolarion takes its title from a type of fifteenth century map that isolates an area in order to present it in detail, and that s what Attlee, sharp eyed and armed with tape recorder and notebook, provides for Cowley Road The former site of a leper hospital, a workhouse, and a medieval well said to have miraculous healing powers, Cowley Road has little to do with the dreaming spires of the tourist s or student s Oxford What Attlee presents instead is a thoroughly modern, impressively cosmopolitan, and utterly organic collection of shops, restaurants, pubs, and religious establishments teeming with life and reflecting the multicultural makeup of the surrounding neighborhood.From a sojourn in a sensory deprivation tank to a furtive visit to an unmarked pornography emporium, Attlee investigates every aspect of the Cowley Road s appealingly eclectic culture, where halal shops jostle with craft jewelers and reggae clubs pulsate alongside quiet churchyards But the very diversity that is, for Attlee, the essence of Cowley Road s appeal is under attack from well meaning city planners and predatory developers His pilgrimage is thus invested with melancholy will the messy glories of the Cowley Road be lost to creeping homogenization Drawing inspiration from sources ranging from Robert Burton s The Anatomy of Melancholy to contemporary art, Attlee is a charming and companionable guide who revels in the extraordinary embedded in the everyday Isolarion is at once a road movie, a quixotic stand against uniformity, and a rousing hymn in praise of the complex, invigorating nature of the twenty first century city.
  • Title: Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey
  • Author: James Attlee
  • ISBN: 9780226030937
  • Page: 246
  • Format: Hardcover

Comments

John Houghton May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM
A beautifully written combination of wandering philosophical treatise and love letter to a special but undervalued place. The conceit is that the author James Attlee is embarking on a pilgrimage up and down his neighbourhood of the Cowley Road, the main Eastern thoroughfare out of Oxford. A place with a long but under-appreciated history, inevitably overshadowed by the glamour of central Oxford.He may travel no further than a short cycle ride away, but over the course of 400 pages in the paperba [...]
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Penny May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM
4.5The third James Attlee book that I've read and thoroughly enjoyed. Isolarion is a book about Oxford, or more specifically a book about Cowley Road in unfashionable East Oxford. A road he describes as "both unique and nothing special".Attlee has the advantage of living in the area he writes about so his 'pilgrimage' is a series of journeys from his own front door. He visits many of the shops and small businesses, often trying to find the  human story behind the shop front. His visit to a sp [...]
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Rob May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM
Oxford's Cowley Road is without doubt somewhat overstated as a counter cultural enclave and certainly, it's no Prenzlauerberg or Haight-Ashbury. Attlee, however, does for this humble street what Iain Sinclair does for the footpaths and ley lines of East London and the result is highly satisfying.The author jumps from shop to shop and business to business, emphasizing the small scale, multicultural nature of the locale as well as an alternative history a world away from the Dreaming Spires. Hence [...]
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Katie May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM
This is one of the most perfectly executed pieces of nonfiction I have ever read. The structure, which echoes the experience of a traveler (or "pilgrim") moving from storefront to storefront on the Cowley Road in Oxford is so masterful, and really elevates the concept of the many journeys that Attlee is chronicling, both through time and physical space. Since Oxford is personally my favorite and chosen space to escape from the rigors of my day-to-day life thousands of miles away, I loved reading [...]
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Chris Mallows May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM
SynopsisThrough the centuries, people from all walks of life have heard the siren call of a pilgrimage, the lure to journey away from the familiar in search of understanding. But is a pilgrimage even possible these days for city-dwellers enmeshed in the pressures of work and family life? Or is there a way to be a pilgrim without leaving one’s life behind? James Attlee answers these questions with Isolarion, a thoughtful, streetwise, and personal account of his own pilgrimage to a place he thou [...]
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Pamela May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM
I really enjoyed this meandering book. It is travel without leaving your own street. Well, the author’s street: Cowley Road in Oxford. I don't live on a street with nearly so much history or diversity, but this author does and explores the past and present, which proves to be quite interesting. Attlee shows that you can travel in your own backyard, although he considers his exploration a pilgrimage. He saunters around related topics and spends quite a bit of time with an old, large book The An [...]
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A.J. May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM
I enjoyed this book very much. It's an exploration of the past and present of an area of East Oxford that has been neglected in comparison to its more famous neighbour. It's a study in multiculturalism, urban art and landscaping, and human interaction with our environment over the centuries. In some ways the book is more of a meander than the pilgrimage Attlee promises us at the beginning, but that's OK - it's a fascinating journey, nonetheless.
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michelle May 26, 2020 - 18:08 PM
Very excited about this book recommended by the Economist. Depicts Oxford's changing urbanism on one very popular street. It goes beyond the Oxford intellectualism and reveals a more ethnically diverse and eclectic persona.
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Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey By James Attlee Through the centuries, people from all walks of life have heard the siren call of a pilgrimage, the lure to journey away from the familiar in search of understanding But is a pilgrimage even possible these days for city dwellers enmeshed in the pressures of work and family life Or is there a way to be a pilgrim without leaving one s life behind James Attlee answers theThrough the centuries, people from all walks of life have heard the siren call of a pilgrimage, the lure to journey away from the familiar in search of understanding But is a pilgrimage even possible these days for city dwellers enmeshed in the pressures of work and family life Or is there a way to be a pilgrim without leaving one s life behind James Attlee answers these questions with Isolarion, a thoughtful, streetwise, and personal account of his pilgrimage to a place he thought he already knew the Cowley Road in Oxford, right outside his door.Isolarion takes its title from a type of fifteenth century map that isolates an area in order to present it in detail, and that s what Attlee, sharp eyed and armed with tape recorder and notebook, provides for Cowley Road The former site of a leper hospital, a workhouse, and a medieval well said to have miraculous healing powers, Cowley Road has little to do with the dreaming spires of the tourist s or student s Oxford What Attlee presents instead is a thoroughly modern, impressively cosmopolitan, and utterly organic collection of shops, restaurants, pubs, and religious establishments teeming with life and reflecting the multicultural makeup of the surrounding neighborhood.From a sojourn in a sensory deprivation tank to a furtive visit to an unmarked pornography emporium, Attlee investigates every aspect of the Cowley Road s appealingly eclectic culture, where halal shops jostle with craft jewelers and reggae clubs pulsate alongside quiet churchyards But the very diversity that is, for Attlee, the essence of Cowley Road s appeal is under attack from well meaning city planners and predatory developers His pilgrimage is thus invested with melancholy will the messy glories of the Cowley Road be lost to creeping homogenization Drawing inspiration from sources ranging from Robert Burton s The Anatomy of Melancholy to contemporary art, Attlee is a charming and companionable guide who revels in the extraordinary embedded in the everyday Isolarion is at once a road movie, a quixotic stand against uniformity, and a rousing hymn in praise of the complex, invigorating nature of the twenty first century city.

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    Posted by:James Attlee
    Published :2020-02-18T18:08:43+00:00