Earth Works: Selected Essays

Earth Works: Selected Essays

Earth Works: Selected Essays

Earth Works: Selected Essays

Synopsis

In the hands of award-winning writer Scott Russell Sanders, the essay becomes an inquisitive and revelatory form of art. In 30 of his finest essays--nine never before collected--Sanders examines his Midwestern background, his father's drinking, his opposition to war, his literary inheritance, and his feeling for wildness. He also tackles such vital issues as the disruption of Earth's climate, the impact of technology, the mystique of money, the ideology of consumerism, and the meaning of sustainability. Throughout, he asks perennial questions: What is a good life? How do family and culture shape a person's character? How should we treat one another and the Earth? What is our role in the cosmos? Readers and writers alike will find wisdom and inspiration in Sanders's luminous and thought-provoking prose.

Excerpt

All of us ponder our lives, more or less often, more or less deeply, and all of us likewise reflect on the larger webs in which our lives are enmeshed, from families and communities to nations and nature, and on out to the farthest reaches of imagination. Essayists choose to do such reflecting, remembering, and imagining in public, on the page. They differ from scholars in claiming no expertise, from journalists in disclosing their opinions, and from novelists in refusing to make things up.

I have gathered here thirty essays that best represent what I have tried to do in this versatile, inquisitive, and sometimes revelatory art form over the past three decades. Twenty-one of the essays have appeared in my previous books; nine are collected here for the first time. in revisiting them, I have made small deletions, for the sake of economy, and slight changes in wording, for the sake of clarity. But I have refrained from making significant revisions, allowing the essays to remain, for better or worse, essentially as they first appeared in print. They are arranged in roughly chronological order, by date of composition. Where I have varied that order, I have done so in order to juxtapose certain essays that cast what seems to me an interesting light on one another. the “Notes and Acknowledgments” section at the back of this volume records, for each essay, when it was composed and where it was first published, along with a few of the circumstances and concerns that influenced the writing. I also list there the chief sources of quotations, and the names of editors who have been especially supportive of my work.

The writing of an essay usually begins for me in a state of strong emotion and equally strong puzzlement. Some event, recollection, journey, or notion bewilders me, distresses me, fascinates me, or otherwise provokes me, and sets me asking questions that drive the writing forward. Such answers as I come up with are always partial and tentative, subject to rethinking in light of new . . .

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