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American Writers: Emerson & Thoreau

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The contributors to this work address how the environmentalist Henry David Thoreau and his successors attempted to cope with the epistemological split between the perceiver and place inherent in writing about nature. They discuss the kinds of discourse most effective for writing about place.

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Austin disregarded prescribed gender roles about how women should explore and talk about the natural world, and she did it with wit, verve, and lyricism. Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke was also Baroness Badass: She shot lions, had a love affair with English game hunter Denys Finch Hatton, and was enamored with the idea of vultures picking her remains clean when she died.

She wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen in Danish, French, and English, including the superlative Out of Africa , her memoir made into a film about running a 4,acre coffee plantation in British East Africa, now Kenya, from to Men have written hundreds of mountaineering books, but who wrote one of the best? She swam in streams, watched wildlife, and slept outdoors—a deep engagement recounted in luminescent prose. For reasons unknown, she left the manuscript in a drawer for nearly 40 years.

It was published late in her life, in But Carson is best known for her book, Silent Spring , which directly led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal? Photo: University of Arizona Press. Ann Haymond Zwinger was studying for a doctorate at Harvard when she met her husband, an Air Force pilot.

As a military wife, she raised three daughters during their transfers around the country, finally settling down in Colorado Springs in When the couple bought 40 acres, Zwinger started cataloging and illustrating plants she discovered there—the beginning of a career writing natural histories of mountains, rivers, deserts, and canyon lands of the American West.

Over 30 years, she wrote more than 20 books about her quiet observations of the wild. You decide you need to get off the grid. At age 29, Dillard won a Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim , and the book remains one of the finest in nature narratives.

What sets Dillard apart is her desire to behold the sacred and divine along a creek in the Virginia woods. Photo: Cybele Knowles. Descended from the great American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alison Hawthorne Deming is a rare interdisciplinary cross-thinker: a poet who writes about science. From the miniscule to the stellar, she explores science, the physical world, and poetry with exquisite observations and memorable juxtapositions.

Also good: Writing the Sacred into the Real , in which she writes passionately about the importance of nature writing in reconnecting people to the natural world and enhancing our spiritual lives, and her most recent work, Stairway to Heaven , a collection of poems reflecting on the loss of her mother and brother. Photo: Penguin Books. It is a bareback, elegant collection of essays—a mix of memoir, meditation, and poetry—set in Wyoming and capturing the stoic people who call the arid landscape home.

After the death of the man she loves, Ehrlich throws herself into hard ranch work—delivering lambs and calves, punching cattle, learning to ride.

Photo: Mariner Books. It may happen.

Thoreau's Sense of Place

The book is a prairie-based spiritual meditation about learning to see more in less. Turned away from our sun, we see the dawning of far flung galaxies. We are no longer blinded to the star coated universe we inhabit. When first published in , it deeply resonated with returning Vietnam vets and has gained more relevance as mental health and post-traumatic stress syndrome in vets is better understood.

The story follows Tayo, a vet of mixed Laguna-white ancestry who has returned home to his reservation, having lost his will to live after enduring the mile Bataan Death March and a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Silko is regarded as the premiere figure in the Native American Renaissance. A Laguna Pueblo, Mexican, and white storyteller, she infuses all her work—novels, poems, films, short stories, and essays—with concerns for traditional Native American culture and the restorative power of ancient rituals. Raised in the sparse beauty of a New Mexican plateau and a debut recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award in , Silko deftly explores complex relationships between humans and nature.

The contributors to this stimulating collection address the ways in which Thoreau and his successors attempt to cope with the basic epistemological split between perceiver and place inherent in writing about nature; related discussions involve the kinds of discourse most effective for writing about place. They focus on the impact on Thoreau and his successors of culturally constructed assumptions deriving from science, politics, race, gender, history, and literary conventions.

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Finally, they explore the implications surrounding a writer's appropriation or even exploitation of places and objects. Thoreaus Transcendental Ecocentrism william r o s s i. Walden Rural Hours and the Dilemma of Representation rochelle johnson.