Environmental Imagination Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture

ISBN-10: 0674258622
ISBN-13: 9780674258624
Edition: 1995
Authors: Lawrence Buell
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Description: With the environmental crisis comes a crisis of the imagination, a need to find new ways to understand nature and humanity's relation to it. This is the challenge Lawrence Buell takes up in The Environmental Imagination, the most ambitious study to  More...

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Book details

List price: $36.00
Copyright year: 1995
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 9/1/1996
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 600
Size: 9.25" wide x 6.50" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 2.244
Language: English

With the environmental crisis comes a crisis of the imagination, a need to find new ways to understand nature and humanity's relation to it. This is the challenge Lawrence Buell takes up in The Environmental Imagination, the most ambitious study to date of how literature represents the natural environment. With Thoreau's Walden as a touchstone, Buell gives us a far-reaching account of environmental perception, the place of nature in the history of western thought, and the consequences for literary scholarship of attempting to imagine a more "ecocentric" way of being. In doing so, he provides a major new understanding of Thoreau's achievement and, at the same time, a profound rethinking of our literary and cultural reflections on nature. The green tradition in American writing commands Buell's special attention, particularly environmental nonfiction from colonial times to the present. In works by writers from Crevecoeur to Wendell Berry, John Muir to Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson to Leslie Silko, Mary Austin to Edward Abbey, he examines enduring environmental themes such as the dream of relinquishment, the personification of the nonhuman, an attentiveness to environmental cycles, a devotion to place, and a prophetic awareness of possible ecocatastrophe. At the center of this study we find an image of Walden as a quest for greater environmental awareness, an impetus and guide for Buell as he develops a new vision of environmental writing and seeks a new way of conceiving the relation between human imagination and environmental actuality in the age of industrialization. Intricate and challenging in its arguments, yet engagingly and elegantly written, The Environmental Imagination is a major work of scholarship, one that establishes a new basis for reading American nature writing.

Lawrence Buell is Powell M. Cabot Research Professor of American Literature at Harvard University.

Abbreviations
Introduction
Historical and Theoretical Contexts
Pastoral Ideology
New World Dreams and Environmental Actualities
Representing the Environment
Walden's Environmental Projects
Forms of Literary Ecocentrism
The Aesthetics of Relinquishment
Nature's Personhood
Nature's Face, Mind's Eye: Realizing the Seasons
Place
Environmental Apocalypticism
Environmental Sainthood
The Thoreauvian Pilgrimage
The Canonization and Recanonization of the Green Thoreau
Text as Testament: Reading Walden for the Author
Appendix
Nature's Genres: Environmental Nonfiction at the Time of Thoreau's Emergence
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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