Wendell Berry: Life and Work

University Press of Kentucky
Free sample

Essayist, social critic, poet, Òmad farmer,Ó novelist, teacher, and prophet: Wendell Berry has been called many things, but the broad sweep of his contemporary relevance and influence defies facile labels. With his unique perspective and far-reaching vision, Berry poses complex questions about humankind and our relationship to the land and offers simple but profound solutions. BerryÕs essays, novels, and poems give voice to a provocative but consistent philosophy, one that extends far beyond its agrarian core to include elements of sociology, the natural sciences, politics, religion, philosophy, linguistics, agriculture, and other seemingly incompatible fields of study. Wendell Berry: Life and Work examines this wise and original thinker, appraising his written work and exploring his influence as an activist and artist. Jason Peters has assembled a broad variety of writers including Hayden Carruth, Sven Birkerts, Barbara Kingsolver, Stanley Hauerwas, Donald Hall, Ed McClanahan, Bill McKibben, Scott Russell Sanders, Norman Wirzba, Wes Jackson, and Eric T. Freyfogle. Each contributor examines an aspect of BerryÕs varied yet cohesive body of work. Also included are highly personal glimpses of Wendell Berry: his career, academic influence, and unconventional lifestyle. These deft sketches of Berry show the purity of his agrarian lifestyle and demonstrate that there is nothing simple about the life to which he has devoted himself. He embraces a life that sustains him not by easy purchase and haste but by physical labor and patience, not by mindless acquiescence to a centralized economy but by careful attention to local ways and wisdom. Wendell Berry: Life and Work combines biographical sketches, personal accounts, literary criticism, and social commentary. Together, the contributors illuminate Berry as he is: a complex man of place and community with an astonishing depth of domestic, intellectual, filial, and fraternal attributes. The result is a rich portrait of one of AmericaÕs most profound and honest thinkers.
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About the author

Jason Peters is associate professor of English at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University Press of Kentucky
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Published on
Jul 20, 2007
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780813172538
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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A pioneer in international conservation and wildlife ecology, Raymond Dasmann published his first book, the influential text Environmental Conservation, when the term "environment" was little known and "conservation" to most people simply meant keeping or storing. This delightful memoir tells the story of an unpretentious man who helped create and shape today's environmental movement. Ranging from Dasmann's travels to ecological hotspots around the world to his development of concepts such as bioregionalism and ecotourism, this autobiography is a story of international conservation action and intrigue, a moving love story, and a gripping chronicle of an exceptional life.

Dasmann takes us from his boyhood days in San Francisco in the early 1920s to his action-packed military service in Australia during World War II, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth. After returning to the United States, Dasmann received his doctorate as a conservation biologist when the field was just being developed. Dasmann left the safety of academia to work with conservation organizations around the world, including the United Nations, and has done fieldwork in Africa, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean, and California.

This book is both a memoir and an account of how Dasmann's thinking developed around issues that are vitally important today. In engaging conversational language, he shares his thoughts on issues he has grappled with throughout his life, such as population growth and the question of how sustainability can be measured, understood, and regained. Called by the Wild tells the story of an inspirational risk taker who reminds us that "the earth is the only known nature reserve in the entire universe" and that we must learn to treat it as such.
Edward O. Wilson – University Professor at Harvard, winner of two Pulitzer prizes, eloquent champion of biodiversity – is arguably one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. His career represents both a blueprint and a challenge to those who seek to explore the frontiers of scientific understanding. Yet, until now, little has been told of his life and of the important events that have shaped his thought.
In Naturalist, Wilson describes for the first time both his growth as a scientist and the evolution of the science he has helped define. He traces the trajectory of his life – from a childhood spent exploring the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida to life as a tenured professor at Harvard – detailing how his youthful fascination with nature blossomed into a lifelong calling. He recounts with drama and wit the adventures of his days as a student at the University of Alabama and his four decades at Harvard University, where he has achieved renown as both teacher and researcher.
As the narrative of Wilson's life unfolds, the reader is treated to an inside look at the origin and development of ideas that guide today's biological research. Theories that are now widely accepted in the scientific world were once untested hypotheses emerging from one man's broad-gauged studies. Throughout Naturalist, we see Wilson's mind and energies constantly striving to help establish many of the central principles of the field of evolutionary biology.
The story of Wilson's life provides fascinating insights into the making of a scientist, and a valuable look at some of the most thought-provoking ideas of our time.
An acclaimed novelist, poet, environmentalist, and farmer argues for a deeper connection to the land and community for the sake of America’s future.
 
Since its publication in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural and spiritual discipline. Todays agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—and from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it.
 
Sadly, as Berry notes in his Afterword, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. We continue to suffer loss of community, the devaluation of human work, and the destruction of nature under an economic system dedicated to the mechanistic pursuit of products and profits. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are good people working “to make something comely and enduring of our life on this earth.” Wendell Berry is one of those people, writing and working, as ever, with passion, eloquence, and conviction.
 
“Wendell Berry is one of those rare individuals who speaks to us always of responsibility, of the individual cultivation of an active and aware participation in the arts of life.” —The Bloomsbury Review
 
“[Berry’s] poems, novels and essays . . . are probably the most sustained contemporary articulation of America’s agrarian, Jeffersonian ideal.” —Publishers Weekly
The accomplished poet and scholar John Crowe Ransom made profound contributions to twentieth-century American literature. As a teacher at Vanderbilt University he was also a leading member of the Southern Agrarian movement and a contributor to the movement's manifesto I'll Take My Stand. Ransom's Land! is a previously unpublished work that unites Ransom's poetic sensibilities with an examination of economics at the height of the Great Depression. Politically charged with Ransom's aesthetic beliefs about literature and his agrarian interpretation of economics, Land! was long thought to have been burned by its author after he failed to find a publisher. Thankfully, the manuscript was discovered, and we are now able to read this unique and interesting contribution to the Southern Agrarian revival.

After the publication of I'll Take My Stand in 1930, Ransom, who provided the book's Statement of Principles in addition to its lead essay, became convinced that the book had not adequately proposed an economic alternative to Northern industrialism, which had fairly obliterated the Southern way of life. Land! was Ransom's attempt to fill this gap. In it he presents the weaknesses inherent in capitalism and argues convincingly that socialism is not only an inadequate alternative but inimical to American sensibilities. He proposes instead that agrarianism, which could flourish alongside capitalism, would relieve the problems of unemployment and the "permanently unemployed." In particular, he argues that what he calls the "amphibian farmer"—who can survive in both a monetary and a non-monetary economy— would never, so long as he relied on himself for necessities, have to fear unemployment. America, Ransom claims, is unique in offering this opportunity because, unlike in European countries, land is plentiful.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The Uninhabitable Earth hits you like a comet, with an overflow of insanely lyrical prose about our pending Armageddon.”—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually.

This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today.

Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.

Praise for The Uninhabitable Earth

“The Uninhabitable Earth is the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our warming planet.”—Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times

“Riveting. . . . Some readers will find Mr. Wallace-Wells’s outline of possible futures alarmist. He is indeed alarmed. You should be, too.”—The Economist
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