Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Nature Writing: The Tradition in English

Robert Finch and John Elder, Editors
Nature Writing:  The Tradition in English
1100+ pages
131 authors and 157 selections

I came across this by chance while browsing the local library catalog.  It's actually the second edition.  The first edition was titled The Norton Book of Nature Writing and was published in 1990.  This is an expanded version which was published in 2002.  It's a large volume, as you can see, and unfortunately there are eight holds on the only copy the local library possesses.  My plan is to read it until I have to return it and then immediately put it on hold again, and hope I will see it again sometime this year. As there is only one copy, there's a good chance it will go "missing."

The range of authors is extensive, beginning with the Englishman Gilbert White (1729--1793) and ending with Janisse Ray  (b. 1962) of the United States.  The selections by Gilbert White were first published in 1789 while the selection by Janisse Ray came out in 1999, which is about right since this volume was published in 2002.

Many of the names are familiar:  Loren Eiseley, Joseph Wood Krutch (two of my favorite all-time writers), John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, N. Scott Momaday,  and Edward Abbey are among those I thought might be included.  However, there were others whose names I recognized, but I didn't expect them to be in here as I was familiar with them from other genres.

I wasn't aware of the prose works of the following poets:  Edward Thomas, Walt Whitman, and Gerard Manley Hopkins.  I was surprised to find a number of contributors whom I know through their fictional works: W. H. Hudson, Virginia Woolf, Isak Dinesen, D. H. Lawrence, Vladimir Nabokov, John Fowles, Ursula K. Le Guin, and John Steinbeck, as well as a number of others.  In addition, there are some whose names I have run across but have yet to read anything by them, or if I have, it is lost:  Aldo Leopard, Ernest Thompson Seton, Edwin Way Teale, Peter Matthiessen, and Barry Lopez are among those I'm looking forward to getting at least a brief exposure to their works.

For the most part though, a  majority of the names are unfamiliar, so this will a two-fold exploratory expedition.  First, I will be exploring a variety of subjects covered in the selections, and second, I will be exploring the world of nature writing, or what used to be called natural history, if I'm not mistaken.

Even though my TBR list is impossibly long right now, I expect to add a few more names.  One will be Aldo Leopold whose excerpt from A Sand County Almanac interested me.


Well, I'm now at page 416 and the book is due today,  March 16.  Eight people are waiting for this the only copy.  I will return it and go back on the waiting list and expect to see it again in five or six months, if it doesn't go "missing" before then.

8 comments:

  1. Wow! What a discovery you have there. I hope my local libraries (public and/or campus) or used bookstores have a copy. I could use a bit of nature writing right about now. Related to this -- but only remotely -- I can highly recommend David McCullough's _Brave Companions_, a collection of essays on various people, including some who would be right at home within the collection you're reading.

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    1. R.T.,

      Thanks for the suggestion.

      Yes, it is quite a find. Unfortunately I had to return it as it was due with 7 people waiting for the one copy. I'm on the hold list again and expect I may get it around August, I hope.

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  2. there's a 2002 copy on abebooks for 11$; might order one my self, your review sounds like my kind of book..

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    1. Mudpuddle,

      That's a good deal, considering the other copies start around %20.

      Enjoy. . .

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  3. forgot: that price includes shipping

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  4. Library....eureka....first edition...onward!

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    1. R.T.,

      Congratulations! Enjoy. . .

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