Walking as Art

Literature & Mythology

To walk. This is a remarkable word. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon wealcan (to roll); whence wealcere, a fuller of cloth. In Percy's Reliques we read -

     “She cursed the weaver and the walker,
     The cloth that they had wrought.”

To walk, therefore, is to roll along, as the machine in felting hats or fulling cloth.
                                                                                    E. Cobham Brewer, The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable 1894

Isn’t it really quite extraordinary to see that, since man took his first steps, no one has asked himself why he walks, how he walks, if he has ever walked, if he could walk better, what he achieves in walking… questions that are tied to all the philosophical, psychological, and political systems which preoccupy the world?

Honoré de Balzac, Théorie de la démarche (Theory of Walking), Paris: Pandora, 1978

I make no separation between dance as an art and dance as a therapy. Every art has a therapeutic effect both on the artist and on the observer.                   Franziska Boas

The person who walks with short and slow steps is a person who starts his business sluggishly and does not pursue a goal               Aristotle

Rise up, take up thy bed, and walkSt. John 5:8

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understand the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering.

Henry David Thoreau

Everything is within walking distance if you have the time.

Stephen Wright

... there is no real need for gharries and rickshaws; they only exist because Orientals consider it vulgar to walk.
                                                                                                                                                            George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

Our nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.            Pascal, Pensées

Solvitur ambulando … “It is solved by walking.” St.Augustine

A Catholic priest walks as if Heaven belonged to him.; a Protestant clergyman, on the contrary, goes about as if he had leased it.

Heinrich Heine, Journey to Italy (1829-1830)

A walk for walk's sake.                Paul Klee

My very walk should be a jig.            Shakespeare (Twelfth Night)

'Will you walk a little faster?' said a whiting to a snail, 'There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail.'        Lewis Carroll

A woman preaching is like a dog walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.        Samuel Johnson

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.                Friedrich Nietzsche

Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.                 Raymond Inmon

The function of muscle is to pull and not to push, except in the case of the genitals and the tongue.                 Leonardo Da Vinci

I just put my feet in the air and move them around.                 Fred Astaire

It is good to collect things, but it is better to go on walks.AnatoleFrance

I have heard, but not believed, the spirits of the dead May walk again.         Shakespeare

When was it she last walked?                  Shakespeare

The longest journey begins with a single step.                Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

Boots--boots--boots--boots--movin' up and down again!                         Rudyard Kipling, Boots

Why do we even bother to read palms? Feet are so much more revealing.                     Elizabeth Kastor (1994)

I can never bring you to realize the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness of thumbnails, or the great issues that may hang from a bootlace.
                                    Sherlock Holmes to Watson ("A Case of Identity")

Clearly we have a richer, more complicated relationship with our shoes than we do with, say, our sweaters.         Elizabeth Kastor (1994)

He even walked like a crab, as if he were cringing all the time.EliaKazan, commenting on actor James Dean (Dalton 1984:53)

Her tongue did walk in foul reproach.            Spenser

We walk perversely with God, and he will walk crookedly toward us            Jer. Taylor

As we walk our earthly round                    Keble

'Tis as if they should make the standard for the measure we call foot, a Chancellor's foot; what an uncertain measure would that be? One Chancellor has a long foot, another a short foot, a third an indifferent foot.                     John Selden (1689)

I will rather trust . . . a thief to walk my ambling gelding Shakespeare

Amid the sound of steps that beat The murmuring walks like rain                    Bryant.

He opened a boundless walk for his imagination                            Pope.

She walked a spinning wheel into the house, making it use first one and then the other of its own spindling legs to achieve progression rather than lifting it by main force                    C. E. Craddock.

He who stumbles and does not fall mends his pace.                Spanish proverb

Good walking leaves no track behind it.                    Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

Some do not walk at all; others walk in the highways; a few walk across lots.                    Henry David Thoreau, Walking

While I was looking at him he raised it sharply, and at once stopped. I am certain he did, but that pause was nothing more perceptible than a faltering check in his gait, instantaneously overcome. Then he continued his approach, looking at us steadily. Miss Haldin signed to me to remain, and advanced a step or two to meet him.                                Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes (chapter 4)

The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.                            Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (chapter 1, describing Scrooge)

Some said he was poor, some said he was a wealthy miser; but he said nothing, never lifted up his bowed head, never varied his shuffling gait by getting his springless foot from the ground.  ... He appeared to be an artist by profession, and to have been at Rome some time; yet he had a slight, careless, amateur way with him—a perceptible limp, both in his devotion to art and his attainments—whichClennam could scarcely understand.
                                                                                                                                                            Charles Dickens, Little Dorritt

Miss Tox was a lady of what is called a limited independence, which she turned to the best account. Possibly her mincing gait encouraged the belief, and suggested that her clipping a step of ordinary compass into two or three, originated in her habit of making the most of everything.
                                                                                                                                                            Charles Dickens, Dombey & Son

`Certainly, he is not like Mr. Knightley. He has not such a fine air and way of walking as Mr. Knightley. I see the difference plain enough.
  But Mr. Knightley is so very fine a man!'   ... What say you to Mr. Weston and Mr. Elton? Compare Mr. Martin with either of them. Compare their manner of carrying themselves; of walking; of speaking; of being silent. You must see the difference.'                  Jane Austen, Emma (chapter 4)

"Yes, very: but what makes you limp so, my child?"
"Mine foot's come hurted again!" Bruno mournfully replied. And he sat down on the ground, and began nursing it.
                                                                                                                                                Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno (chapter 21)

...she either didn’t like his wooden leg, or she’d some notion about his being a hypocrite. Happen (for women is queer hands—we may say that amangwerseln when there’s none of ’em nigh) she’d have encouraged him, in spite of his leg and deceit—just to pass time like.        The Bronte Sisters, Shirley

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.                Fred Allen

He who limps is still walking.            Stanislaw J. Lec

It is a great art to saunter.                     Henry David Thoreau, 1841

Of all exercises walking is the best.                        Thomas Jefferson

I was the world in which I walked.                         Wallace Stevens, Tea at the Palaz of Hoon

Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility.                                                            Gary Snyder,  The Practice of the Wild

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin  air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green  leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.                                   ThichNhatHanh

Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other.                M. C. Richards

All walking is discovery.  On foot we take the time to see things whole.                        Hal Borland

Before supper take a little walk, after supper do the same.                            Erasmus

I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.                            Abraham Lincoln

I see men as trees, walking.                             St. Mark 8:24

She walks in beauty, like the night.                        Byron

I wish I loved the Human Race... I wish I liked the way it walks.Raleigh

The people in Australia breathe free. They do not feel the weight of the great divisions of the middle-class that is above them, nor the well-to-do and the gentlemen. Working people here do not go slouching down the streets, as they do in England, crushed under the sense of their inferiority. This is a true republic. The truest in the world. In Englandteh average man feels he is inferior; in America that he is superior. In Australia he feels that he is an equal.                                                                                                                                                               FWA Adams

Of small stature, he stands on a basis, at most for the flattest-soled, of some half-square foot, insecurely enough; has to straddle out his legs, lest the very wind suplant him. Feeblest of bipeds! Three quintals are a crushing load for him; the steer of the meadow tosses him aloft like a waste rag.
                                                                                                                Thomas Carlyle, Works (London: Chapman & Hall; 1897-99) Vol 1:p32.

Much of what is thought to be physical in the Jew is really social. The shambling walk, for instance, that characterizesso many ghetto Jews is frequently ascribed to an innate physical peculiarity, and we are told that "all Jews have flat feet." But flat feet are cause for rejection from the Army and the Navy, and tehre are far too many Jews in the armed services for this to be universal, or even an unusually common, defect among them. Something of the same walk is noticeable among Negroes and is in fact as indispensible, in a humorously exaggerated form, to Negro comedians and blackface funny-men as are rolling eyes and shaking knees.
                                                                                                                                Bergen Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense, p218

     He who stands on tiptoe is not steady.
     He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
                                                                                    Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

The traditional posture of the Japanese population… was that of a stooped back, and four limbs bent. Even when walking the knees were kept bent, and there was no counterbalancing swing of the arms.NomuraMasichi, Remodelling the Japanese Body, in Culture Embodied, ed Moerman & Nomura

Feet, what do I need you for? I have wings to fly.

I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop I cease to think; my mind only works with my legs.

Rousseau, The Confessions

In the beginning was the foot.

Marvin Harris, Cultural Anthropology (1987)

A pair of peasant shoes voices a distinct relationship between the wearer and the earth.

Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought

I love Brittany, I find the wild and the primitive here. When my clogs resonate on this granite soil, I hear the muted, dull and powerful sound I look for in painting.

Each person knows that somewhere it is recorded the moment she was born, the moment she took her first step, the moment of her first passion, the moment she said goodbye to her parents.                                                                                                                        Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

Max Beerbohm, Going Out For a Walk (1918)

 It is a fact that not once in all my life have I gone out for a walk. I have been

 taken out for walks; but that is another matter. Even while I trotted prattling by
 my nurse's side I regretted the good old days when I had, and wasn't, a
 perambulator. When I grew up it seemed to me that the one advantage of living
 in London was that nobody ever wanted me to come out for a walk. London's
 very drawbacks--its endless noise and bustle, its smoky air, the squalor
 ambushed everywhere in it--assured this one immunity. Whenever I was with
 friends in the country, I knew that at any moment, unless rain were actually
 falling, some man might suddenly say "Come out for a walk!" in that sharp
 imperative tone which he would not dream of using in any other connexion.
 People seem to think there is something inherently noble and virtuous in the
 desire to go for a walk. Any one thus desirous feels that he has a right to
 impose his will on whomever he sees comfortably settled in an arm-chair,
 reading. It is easy to say simply "No" to an old friend. In the case of a mere
 acquaintance one wants some excuse. "I wish I could, but"-nothing ever occurs
 to me except "I have some letters to write." This formula is unsatisfactory in
 three ways. (1) It isn't believed. (2) It compels you to rise from your chair, go
 to the writing-table, and sit improvising a letter to somebody until the
walkmonger (just not daring to call you liar and hypocrite) shall have lumbered
 out of the room. (3) It won't operate on Sunday mornings. "There's no post out
 till this evening" clinches the matter; and you may as well go quietly.

 Walking for walking's sake may be as highly laudable and exemplary a thing as
 it is held to be by those who practise it. My objection to it is that it stops the
 brain. Many a man has professed to me that his brain never works so well as
 when he is swinging along the high road or over hill and dale. This boast is not
 confirmed by my memory of anybody who on a Sunday morning has forced me
 to partake of his adventure. Experience teaches me that whatever a
 fellow-guest may have of power to instruct or to amuse when he is sitting on a
 chair, or standing on a hearth-rug, quickly leaves him when he takes one out for
 a walk. The ideas that came so thick and fast to him in any room, where are
 they now? where that encyclopaedic knowledge which he bore so lightly?
 where the kindling fancy that played like summer lightning over any topic that
 was started? The man's face that was so mobile is set now; gone is the light
 from his fine eyes. He says that A. (our host) is a thoroughly good fellow. Fifty
 yards further on, he adds that A. is one of the best fellows he has ever met. We
 tramp another furlong or so, and he says that Mrs. A. is a charming woman.
 Presently he adds that she is one of the most charming women he has ever
 known. We pass an inn. He reads vapidly aloud to me: "The King's Arms.
 Licensed to sell Ales and Spirits." I foresee that during the rest of the walk he
 will read aloud any inscription that occurs. We pass a milestone. He points at it
 with his stick, and says "Uxminster. 11 Miles." We turn a sharp corner at the
 foot of a hill. He points at the wall, and says "Drive Slowly." I see far ahead, on
 the other side of the hedge bordering the high road, a small notice-board. He
 sees it too. He keeps his eye on it. And in due course "Trespassers," he says,
 "Will Be Prosecuted." Poor man!--mentally a wreck.

 Luncheon at the A.s, however, salves him and floats him in full sail. Behold him
 once more the life and soul of the party. Surely he will never, after the bitter
 lesson of this morning, go out for another walk. An hour later, I see him striding
 forth, with a new companion. I watch him out of sight. I know what he is
 saying. He is saying that I am rather a dull man to go a walk with. He will
 presently add that I am one of the dullest men he ever went a walk with. Then
 he will devote himself to reading out the inscriptions.

 How comes it, this immediate deterioration in those who go walking for
walking's sake? Just what happens? I take it that not by his reasoning faculties
 is a man urged to this enterprise. He is urged, evidently, by something in him
 that transcends reason; by his soul, I presume. Yes, it must be the soul that raps
 out the "Quick march!" to the body. -"Halt! Stand at ease!" interposes the
 brain, and "To what destination," it suavely asks the soul, "and on what errand,
 are you sending the body?" --"On no errand whatsoever," the soul makes
 answer, "and to no destination at all. It is just like you to be always on the
 look-out for some subtle ulterior motive. The body is going out because the
 mere fact of its doing so is a sure indication of nobility, probity, and rugged
 grandeur of character." --"Very well, Vagula, have your own wayula! But I,"
 says the brain, "flatly refuse to be mixed up in this tomfoolery. I shall go to sleep
 till it is over." The brain then wraps itself up in its own convolutions, and falls
 into a dreamless slumber from which nothing can rouse it till the body has been
 safely deposited indoors again.

 Even if you go to some definite place, for some definite purpose, the brain
 would rather you took a vehicle; but it does not make a point of this; it will
 serve you well enough unless you are going out for a walk. It won't, while your
 legs are vying with each other, do any deep thinking for you, nor even any close
 thinking; but it will do any number of small odd jobs for you willingly-provided
 that your legs, also, are making themselves useful, not merely bandying you
 about to gratify the pride of the soul. Such as it is, this essay was composed in
 the course of a walk, this morning. I am not one of those extremists who must
 have a vehicle to every destination. I never go out of my way, as it were, to
 avoid exercise. I take it as it comes, and take it in good part. That
 valetudinarians are always chattering about it, and indulging in it to excess, is no
 reason for despising it. I am inclined to think that in moderation it is rather good
 for one, physically. But, pending a time when no people wish me to go and see
 them, and I have no wish to go and see any one, and there is nothing whatever
 for me to do off my own premises, I never will go out for a walk.

Gustave Flaubert: failed surgery for talipes

Madame Bovary: Part II, Chapter 11

                  He had recently read a eulogy on a new method for curing club-foot,

                  and as he was a partisan of progress, he conceived the patriotic idea
                  that Yonville, in order to keep to the fore, ought to have some
                  operations for strephopody or club-foot.

                  "For," said he to Emma, "what risk is there? See--" (and he
                  enumerated on his fingers the advantages of the attempt), "success,
                  almost certain relief and beautifying of the patient, celebrity acquired
                  by the operator. Why, for example, should not your husband relieve
                  poor Hippolyte of the 'Lion d'Or'? Note that he would not fail to tell
                  about his cure to all the travellers, and then" (Homais lowered his voice
                  and looked round him) "who is to prevent me from sending a short
                  paragraph on the subject to the paper? Eh! goodness me! an article
                  gets about; it is talked of; it ends by making a snowball! And who
                  knows? who knows?"

The operation

                  ...So by the advice of the chemist, and after three fresh starts, he had a

                  kind of box made by the carpenter, with the aid of the locksmith, that
                  weighed about eight pounds, and in which iron, wood, sheer-iron,
                  leather, screws, and nuts had not been spared.

                  But to know which of Hippolyte's tendons to cut, it was necessary first
                  of all to find out what kind of club-foot he had.

                  He had a foot forming almost a straight line with the leg, which,
                  however, did not prevent it from being turned in, so that it was an
                  equinus together with something of a varus, or else a slight varus with
                  a strong tendency to equinus. But with this equinus, wide in foot like a
                  horse's hoof, with rugose skin, dry tendons, and large toes, on which
                  the black nails looked as if made of iron, the clubfoot ran about like a
                  deer from morn till night. He was constantly to be seen on the Place,
                  jumping round the carts, thrusting his limping foot forwards. He
                  seemed even stronger on that leg than the other. By dint of hard
                  service it had acquired, as it were, moral qualities of patience and
                  energy; and when he was given some heavy work, he stood on it in
                  preference to its fellow.

                  Now, as it was an equinus, it was necessary to cut the tendon of
                  Achilles, and, if need were, the anterior tibial muscle could be seen to
                  afterwards for getting rid of the varus; for the doctor did not dare to risk
                  both operations at once; he was even trembling already for fear of
                 injuring some important region that he did not know.

                  Neither Ambrose Pare, applying for the first time since Celsus, after
                  an interval of fifteen centuries, a ligature to an artery, nor Dupuytren,
                  about to open an abscess in the brain, nor Gensoul when he first took
                  away the superior maxilla, had hearts that trembled, hands that shook,
                  minds so strained as Monsieur Bovary when he approached
Hippolyte, his tenotome between his fingers. And as at hospitals, near
                  by on a table lay a heap of lint, with waxed thread, many bandages--a
                  pyramid of bandages--every bandage to be found at the druggist's. It
                  was Monsieur Homais who since morning had been organising all
                  these preparations, as much to dazzle the multitude as to keep up his
                  illusions. Charles pierced the skin; a dry crackling was heard. The
                  tendon was cut, the operation over. Hippolyte could not get over his
                  surprise, but bent over Bovary's hands to cover them with kisses."

The result

                  With many precautions, in order not to disturb the position of the limb,

                  the box was removed, and an awful sight presented itself. The outlines
                  of the foot disappeared in such a swelling that the entire skin seemed
                  about to burst, and it was covered with ecchymosis, caused by the
                  famous machine. Hippolyte had already complained of suffering from
                  it. No attention had been paid to him; they had to acknowledge that he
                  had not been altogether wrong, and he was freed for a few hours. But,
                  hardly had the oedema gone down to some extent, than the two
                  savants thought fit to put back the limb in the apparatus, strapping it
                  tighter to hasten matters. At last, three days after, Hippolyte being
                  unable to endure it any longer, they once more removed the machine,
                  and were much surprised at the result they saw. The livid tumefaction
                  spread over the leg, with blisters here and there, whence there oozed
                  a black liquid. Matters were taking a serious turn. Hippolyte began to
                  worry himself, and Mere Lefrancois, had him installed in the little room
                  near the kitchen, so that he might at least have some distraction.

Cinderella by Gustave DoreCinderella

Cinderella is easily one of the most well-known stories around the world. The themes from the story appear in the folklore of many cultures. Sources disagree about how many versions of the tale exist, with numbers ranging from 340 to over 1,500 if all of the picture book and musical interpretations are included. The tale has its own Aarne Thompson classification which is 510A. It always centers around a kind, but persecuted heroine who suffers at the hands of her step-family after the death of her mother. Her father is either absent or neglectful depending on the version. The heroine has a magical guardian who helps her triumph over her persecuters and receive her fondest wish by the end of the tale. The guardian is sometimes a representative of the heroine's dead mother. Most of the tales include an epiphany sparked by an article of clothing (usually a shoe) that causes the heroine to be recognized for her true worth.

The earliest recorded version of the tale comes from China. It was written down by Tuan Ch'eng-shih in the middle of the ninth century A.D (850-60 Common Era). The tone of the story implies that its readers and listeners were already well-acquainted with the story by the time it was written down. The heroine of the Chinese tale is Yeh-shen. There is no fairy godmother in this earliest known version. A magical fish is the helper toYeh-shen instead. However, a golden shoe is used to identify Yeh-shen to the prince who wants to marry her.

Although a reference to the story exists in 16th century German literature, the next written version of the story comes from Charles Perrault in his Contes de ma Mere L'Oye in 1697. From this version, we received the fairy godmother, the pumpkin carriage, the animal servants, and the glass slippers. Perrault recorded the story that was told to him by storytellers while adding these touches for literary effect. Some scholars think Perrault confused "vair" (French for "ermine or fur") with "verre" (French for "glass") to account for Cinderella's admittedly uncomfortable footwear. Perrault's version has a more humane ending with Cinderella finding husbands for her sisters.

The Grimm Brothers' German version, known as Aschenputtel or Ash Girl does not have a fairy godmother. The heroine plants a tree on her mother's grave from which all of the magical help appears in the form of a white dove. The stepsisters have their eyes pecked by birds from the tree to punish them for their cruelty. Perrault's version is considerably more forgiving than this version.

In modern times, the tale of Cinderella has inspired countless picture books, musicals, novels, and dreams of little girls. Versions of the tale have been collected and printed from Vietnam, Italy, Egypt, Australia, and the Algonquin Indians, to name a few.

G.K. Chesterton, The Queer Feet

'You see, colonel,' he said, 'I was shut up in that small room there doing some writing, when I heard a pair of feet in this passage doing a dance that was as queer as the dance of death. First came quick, funny little steps, like a man walking on tiptoe for a wager; then came slow, careless, creaking steps, as of a big man walking about with a cigar. But they were both made by the same feet, I swear, and they came in rotation; first the run and then the walk, and then the run again. I wondered at first idly and then wildly why a man should act these two parts at once. One walk I knew; it was just like yours, colonel. It was the walk of a well-fed gentleman waiting for something, who strolls about rather because he is physically alert than because he is mentally impatient. I knew that I knew the other walk, too, but I could not remember what it was. What wild creature had I met on my travels that tore along on tiptoe in that extraordinary style? Then I heard a clink of plates somewhere; and the answer stood up as plain as St. Peter's. It was the walk of a waiter -- that walk with the body slanted forward, the eyes looking down, the ball of the toe spurning away the ground, the coat tails and napkin flying. Then I thought for a minute and a half more. And I believe I saw the manner of the crime, as clearly as if I were going to commit it.'

Ben Jonson's heel bone

Ben Johnson, the English dramatist, was buried standing up in Westminster Abbey, but in 1849 his grave was disturbed during a later internment.  The Dean of Westminster, William Buckland, stole Johnson's heel-bone but it later disappeared and was not found again until 1938 when the bone reappeared in an old furniture shop!


Hemingway was wounded in WWI, when he had 237 shell fragments and two machine gun bullets taken out of his right leg. Ten years after the war he was still wearing a brace, yet learned to ski and play tennis.

Douglas Bader, Reach for the Sky 

                     The stirring story of the war hero, Douglas Bader, who lost both legs in a plane crash before the war

                     but came back to become one of the great flying aces of the Battle of Britain. This respectful
                     biography does not disguise the fact that Mr Bader must have been a forceful, difficult personality to
                     deal with. The Germans who imprisoned him after he was shot down certainly found him hard to
                     cope with. After numerous escape attempts they resorted to taking away his artificial legs, and
                     eventually sent him to the POW camp for perennial bad boys, Colditz. After the war Bader went on
                     to a successful career with a petroleum company and continued to fly his own plane all over the
                     world. This is not a dirt-digging, exposé biography such as is fashionable in these days of media
                     overload, but it is a bare-bones, well written story of a remarkable man's remarkable life.

Sir Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim

The central character is the antihero Jim Dixon, a junior faculty member at a small university, who faces one disaster after another with his girlfriend and professor. Dixon's job is in constant danger, often for good reason. He despises the pretensions of academic life, but his ambitious plans to improve his situation are fruitless, because the class distinctions are unbreakable. - see also Odili from ChunuaAchebe's novel A Man of the People (1966). The novel earned him the Somerset Maugham award for fiction and a place in a group of young writers, which iincluded John Braine, Iris Murdoch and John Osborne, whom the critics labeled "Angry Young Men." Lucky Jim had something never before seen in fiction: a working-class hero, well educated but unabashedly middlebrow. Amis's innovation came as a breath of fresh air to a literary scene subdued by philosophical protagonists and alienated artists. This satiric and farcical story leads merrily through scenes of virtuoso comic catastrophe.

'They made a silly mistake, though,' the Professor of History said, and his smile, as Dixon watched, gradually sank beneath the surface of his features at the memory. 'After the interval we did a little piece by Dowland,' he went on; 'for recorder and keyboard, you know. I played the recorder, of course, and young Johns...' He paused, and his trunk grew rigid as he walked; it was as if some entirely different man, some imposter who couldn't copy his voice, had momentarily taken his place; then he went on again: '... young Johns played the piano. Versatile lad, that; the oboe's his instrument, really. Well, anayway, the reporter chap must have got the story wrong, or not been listening, or something. Anyway, there it was in the Post as large as life: Dowland, yes, they'd got him right; Messrs Welch and Johns, yes; but what do you think they said then?'

Dixon shook his head, 'I don't know, Professor,' he said in a sober veracity. No other professor in Great Britain, he thought, set such store by being called Professor.

'Flute and piano.'


'Flute and piano; not recorder and piano.' Welch laughed briefly. 'Now a recorder, you know, isn't like a flute, though it's the flute's immediate ancestor, of course. To begin with, it's played, that's the recorder, what they call àbec, that's to say you blow into a shaped mouthpiece like that of an oboe or a clarinet, you see. A present-day flute's played what's known as traverso, in other words you blow across a hole instead of...'
                                                                                                                            The opening scene from Lucky Jim (1954)

Wendy Perriam, Tread Softly

British novelist Wendy Perriam had the dubious honour of winning the Literary Review's Bad Sex In Fiction award for her novel, in which the 30-something heroine, sent to a geriatric nursing home to convalesce after a botched bunion operation, has sex with her husband while fantasising about her foot surgeon. She said: "I am absolutely stunned to win, particularly for a novel about bunions."

Convent-educated Perriam attributed her love of explicit scenes to her strict religious upbringing.

"Sex was never discussed either at home or at school and I never had any sex education. As a result I am fascinated by sex."

Rebecca Solnit: Wanderlust: A History of Walking

                                 Discussing an eccentric 18th century peripatetic named John Thelwall in her

                                 new "Wanderlust: A History of Walking," Rebecca Solnit writes that he
                                 suggests "something of a pattern: autodidacts who took the trinity of radical
                                 politics, love of nature, and pedestrianism to extremes." While I'm pretty sure
Solnit herself has a formal education, her astonishing range of reference and
                                 her indefatigable curiosity suggest the passion of an autodidact, and in every
                                 other respect she fits the pattern, too. Whether she takes this trinity to
                                 extremes is a matter of interpretation, but you could argue that even the
                                 attempt to write a history of walking -- arguably the defining human activity --
                                 is itself extreme. Why not the history of talking, or breathing?

                                 Of course, as Solnit points out, she has written a history of walking, not the
                                 history, which is all but infinite. Her history is, as she puts it, "an idiosyncratic
                                 path traced ... by one walker, with much doubling back and looking around."
                                 That's accurate, if a little modest; "Wanderlust" is a delightful, mind-expanding
                                 journey that strays from Søren Kierkegaard's Copenhagen and William
                                 Wordsworth's Lake District to the top of Everest and the New Mexico
                                 desert, from the first hominids to walk upright (whoever and wherever they
                                 were) to contemporary women who face the hazards of solitary walking. It's a
                                 journey led by a guide of tremendous erudition and just as much common
                                 sense, capable of slipping almost imperceptibly from the personal mode -- she
                                 describes several entirely non-metaphorical walks -- to the analytical and
                                 back again without appearing self-indulgent. (Full disclosure: I've had several
                                 friendly conversations with Solnit but don't know her well.)

                                 Historically, walking has had many functions; for most people most of the
                                 time, of course, it was the only method of getting from one place to another.
                                 As Solnit says, "walking is a mode of making the world as well as being in it,"
                                 and it allows us to know "the world through the body and the body through
                                 the world." This is not merely a theoretical construct. One of Solnit's principal
                                 concerns is that the connection between the body and the world that walking
                                 exemplifies has begun to fade as we spend more and more time isolated in
technologized cells -- SUVs, offices, suburban homes -- and trapped in a
                                 culture that sees unstructured time alone in the world as inherently

                                 In search of the multiple meanings of walking in (mostly) Western culture,
Solnit begins with the Athenian philosophers -- although no one really knows
                                 whether they walked to think -- and moves on through Jean Jacques
                                 Rousseau, Kierkegaard and Wordsworth, who collectively promulgated the
                                 romantic idea of solitary rambling as a contemplative exercise. Her
                                 layperson's exegesis of the anthropological and anatomical debate on
bipedalism, or the question of when and why our ancestors first rose up on
                                 two legs, is a masterpiece of wit and economy. It's amusing, if not all that
                                 surprising, to learn that these discussions seem to be shaped as much by
                                 contemporary concerns about gender roles as by science.

                                 The breadth alone of the material that Solnit has absorbed would have
                                 thwarted me; she's read obscure 19th century memoirs of walking tours,
                                 histories of mountaineering, feminist theory, studies of urban design, Victorian
                                 novels and Beat poetry. She knows more about the history of labyrinths and
                                 about the Renaissance mnemonic device called the memory palace than any
                                 normal person should. She's at her very best, I think, when her passion for
                                 history and landscape meets her progressive politics. Her mini-chapter on the
                                 late 19th and early 20th century right-of-way battles between working people
                                 and aristocrats in England's Peak District, in which the refined taste for natural
                                 beauty implied by the English landscape garden became democratized, is rich
                                 with brilliant observation and detail. Correspondingly, she's weaker as a
                                 literary critic and an urbanist; her chapter on the literature of walking in
London and New York feels thin by comparison.

                                 Her fine chapters on pedestrianism as a forum for protest and rebellion, from
                                 Paris to Prague to San Francisco, and on the methods of social control that
                                 have often prevented women from being walkers lead her finally to Las
                                 Vegas, of all places. It's typical of Solnit's daring and of her lyrical,
                                 unquenchable optimism that she sees hope in America's most suburbanized,
                                 most theme-parked city. On the crowded sidewalks of the Strip, with its
                                 synthetic volcanoes, pirate ships and Venetian canals recalling the 18th
                                 century pleasure palaces of Europe, she finds evidence that "the thirst for
                                 places, for cities and gardens and wilderness, is unslaked, that people will
                                 seek out the experience of wandering about in the open air to examine the
                                 architecture, the spectacles and the stuff for sale, will still hanker after
                                surprises and strangers."

                                 In the end, the guiding spirit of "Wanderlust," the lonely traveler always in
                                 view on Solnit's horizon, is not Wordsworth or Rousseau but Walter
                                 Benjamin, whose rambles through the streets of Paris had the sense of
                                 wonder, the air of open-minded exploration and imminent discovery, of
Solnit's own journey. Solnit observes the sexism and snobbery inherent in
                                 Benjamin's idea of the flâneur, the idle, solitary gentleman strolling through the
                                 crowds, but she can't quite resist it. In describing Benjamin's writing she
                                 seems to be half-consciously describing her own: "more or less scholarly in
                                 subject, but full of beautiful aphorisms and leaps of imagination, a scholarship
                                 of evocation rather than definition."

Shoe Books

All About Wearing High Heels

To Walk, Gait, Posture and Balance in different languages

To walk
Gait & Abnormal Gaits
(Loss of) Balance





German - thanks to Ellen Freiberger

trotten (to trott
schleichen (walk slowly ) 
schlurfen (walk with minimal foot clearance) 
Schenkerla (the famous smoked Rauchbier from tavern in Bamberg) is derived from an old Franconian expression for not walking in a straight line! 


Spanish - thanks to 

Luis Commisso

Quieto, (quietly) 

Rapidamentevelozmente (quickly) 
Lentamente, (slowly) 
Cuidadosamente, (carefully) 
Con largos pasos (with long steps) 
Graciosamente (gracefully)

pezoporo (to go on foot) 

bhmatizo (to take steps) 
parelavno (to march) 
brathiporo (to walk slowly) 
argoporo (to walk slowly) 
tachiporo (to walk fast) 
periferome (to wander about; to make circles) 
trigirizo (to wander about) 
koutseno (to limp) 
choleno (to limp) 
robolo (to walk downhill) 


pezoporia (going on foot) 
bimatismos (taking steps) 
parelasi (marching) 
bradiporia (walking slowly) 
perifora (walking about/ in circle) 
perpatima (walking) 
cholotita (limping)
orthios (standing) 

kathistos (sitting) 
ksaplomenos (lying down) 
gonatistos (kneeling) 
skimenos (stooped) 
diplomenos (bent) 
tentomenos (stretched; straight) 
strabos (crooked) 
isios (straight)
isorropia (balance) 

anisorropo (to lose balance) 
pefto (to fall) 
skontafto (to stumble) 
parapeo (to lose balance) 
koutrouvalao (to fall)

tippelenlopen (prostitute walk)

Irish (Gaelic) - thanks to Siobhan Strike
Siúl (walk) 

Imeachtgrástuil (graceful walk) 
Gluaiseacht/coisich (walk) 
spaisdeóireachd (promenading) 
trosdán (a pace)
gámus (proud gait or carriage) 

liug (a sneaking or lame gait) 
Crinndireach (really straight) 
Sodar (trot) 
cos in airde (gallop) 
Direach (upright) 
Corrach (unsteady) 
tapaidhmeargasta, (quick) 
arluaslasrach (fast as light) luathcosach (fleet of foot) 
Mall (slow) 
Mall gluaiseacht (slow motion)
Scottish & Gallic

gàmag (a stride) 

loireanach (male toddler) 
màigean (toddler)

fow (roish) - buzz off, walk away 
shooylmygeayrt (walk about) 
troagyraght (march)
lheibeidjagh (cumbersome gait)

Icelandic - thanks to Baldur Thorgilsson
ganga (walk) 

labba (walk) 
hlaupa  (run) 
hoppa (jump) 
valhoppa (jump twice on each foot) 
kjaga (waddle 
la?ast  (sneak) 
skjotast (scoot) 
stika (long steps) 
rafa (wander) 
skokka  (jog)
haltra  limp

olla kävelyllä
lyllertää/lyllerrän/lyllersi/lyllertänyt (waddle) 
kipittää/kipitän/kipitti/kipittänyt (scamper, walk quickly) 
harppoa/harpon/harppoi/harpponut (stride along)

chodzic' (to walk) 

spacerovac' ( go for a walk) 
drobic' (do short steps ) 
krok (step), kroki(steps) 
is'c' (to go) 
wychodzic' (go out) 
wchodzic' (come in)

defiladovy- (goose-stepping) 
rovny- (rhythmical, decisive)
wyprost (upright)
ro'vnowaga (balance)
kracet (jit pesky) 

prochazet se (slow) 
chodit (pocem) - wander (flat) 
vzitnaprochazku (koho) - take somebody for a walk 
ucitchodit - teach walking 
nest (koho) - bear child 
zavoditchuzi (s) - race walk 
prochazka - a walk 
chuze (zpusob

drzeni tela (zpusob

puzati (crawl) 
trcati [trchati] (run)
sepati (limp)

Latin script: 
progulivat' (loshadit.p.) 

Latin script: pohodka







tekoteko  (sound of walking)

-kongoja (unsteadily) 
-nyata (quietly) 
-tataga (quickly) 
-sita (slowly or uncertainly) 
-endakikongwe (bent over and with difficulty verb) 
-chechea (carefully) 
-tagaa (with long steps) 
-dundika (gracefully) 
-andamana (in a line) 
-bata (like a duck)

maenenziya pole (slow) 
maenenziya pole haraka pole (rapid)