New book announcement re: The Pyrenees

Martyn Lyons's picture

I would like to inform colleagues of the publication of my new book, The Pyrenees in the Modern Era; Reinventions of a Landscape, 1775-2012, published in London by Bloomsbury.

I add below the essence of the Table of Contents, and the publisher’s description of the book as it appears on the back cover. Further details can be found at

Table of Contents

1          Introduction: the Pyrenean World                                                                     

2          Romancing the Stones? The Enlightenment Invention of the Pyrenees                

3          Visions of the Picturesque: the Romantic Pyrenees                                                        

4          Others Among Others                                                                                                  

5          The Railway Age and the Coming of Mass Tourism, 1853-1914            

6          The Heroic Pyrenees: the Challenge of the Peaks                                   

7          Making the Nation: Cyclists and Excursionists                                                  

8          Peoples of the Frontier                                                                                                 

9          Dangerous Borderlands, 1936-1945                                                                              

10        The Anthropological Gaze                                                                                           

11        The Death of Cannelle and the Green Pyrenees                                                 

12        The Pyrenees Today                                                                                                                                                                            


This original study examines different incarnations of the Pyrenees, beginning with the assumptions of 18th-century geologists, who treated the mountains like a laboratory, and romantic 19th-century tourists and habitués of the spa resorts, who went in search of the picturesque and the sublime. The book analyses the individual visions of the heroic Pyrenees which in turn fascinated 19th-century mountaineers and the racing cyclists of the Tour de France. I investigate the role of the Pyrenees during the Second World War as an escape route from Nazi-occupied France., when for thousands of refugees these dangerous borderlands became 'the mountains of liberty', and I consider the place of the Pyrenees in recent times up to the present day.

Drawing on travel writing, press reports and scientific texts in several languages, The Pyrenees in the Modern Era explores both the French and Spanish sides of the Pyrenees to provide a nuanced historical understanding of the cultural construction of one of Europe's most prominent border regions. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of Europe's cultural history in a transnational context.



‘A total history of the Pyrenees. Martyn Lyons is an engaging expert guide, leading us through scientists, Romantic travel-writers, peasant customs, refugees, mountaineers, ecologists and anthropologists.’ - Sharif Gemie, University of South Wales.

‘Martyn Lyons takes the reader on a fascinating journey through Pyrenean landscapes across two and a half centuries. Drawing upon the writings of a wide range of observers, he makes a very welcome, highly readable contribution to our understanding of a culturally and linguistically diverse borderland.’ – Sandra Ott, University of Nevada.