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By James I. McClintock

Aldo Leopold, Joseph wooden Krutch, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Gary Snyder - those writers have all recorded their encounters with nature. during this quantity, McClintock exhibits how their mystical reviews with the wild ended in dramatic conversions of their considering and behavior, and to their rejection of contemporary alienation and religious confusion. From Aldo Leopold, one in every of America's most vital conservationists and writer of the vintage "A Sand County Almanac", to Pulitzer Prize winners Annie Dillard and Gary Snyder, and defenders of the desolate tract, Joseph wooden Krutch and Edward Abbey, those writers proportion a typical imaginative and prescient that harks again to Henry David Thoreau and John Muir. To 19th-century Romantic beliefs, they upload the authority of contemporary ecological technological know-how. jointly, they've got increased nature's value in American tradition, shaping the expansion of the environmental circulation and influencing American environmental rules. well-known between proficient readers yet quite overlooked via the literary institution, those writers unite the genuine with the metaphysical, the normal with the sacred, the non-public with the general public, and the average with the social. utilizing ecology as a touchstone, McClintock extra attracts connections between technological know-how, politics, faith and philosophy to create an enlightening evaluation of the paintings of those "kindred spirits".

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Extra info for Nature's Kindred Spirits: Aldo Leopold, Joseph Wood Krutch, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, and Gary Snyder

Sample text

In the following two decades, American midwestern ecologists Frederic Clements and Victor Shelford wrote about "biotic communities," or "biome," thus extending the idea of plant succession leading to a stable state of "climax" to include animals. Aldo Leopold's friend Charles Elton, the distinguished professor of zoology at Oxford, contributed to the growing store of ecological conception and imagery by introducing the metaphors of "food chain" and biotic "pyramid"; large numbers of simple organisms formed the base of the pyramid with far fewer large carnivores at the pinnacle, all dependent upon one another through eating 12 Kindred Spirits and being eaten.

Thinking about land not as property but as a community of citizens to whom we should (and will) extend rights is, of course, a radical viewpoint. That it has appealed to a wide audience of environmentally concerned people is a testimony to the essay's imaginative and emotional impact as much as its intellectual power. Rhetorically, Leopold manages to clothe his argument in language that blurs distinctions between scientific, social, and spiritual realms, thus appealing to his audience's longed-for reconciliation between science, social conduct, and spiritual belief.

For a Depression and war-weary generation emerging from World War II's defeat of fascism and, later, to a generation longing for relief from Cold War tensions, the utopian rhetoric of community, freedom, inalienable rights, tolerance, and peace that Leopold uses to prophesy his ecological vision was, and is, more than scientific. The war against nature had left the ecologically educated person "alone in a world of wounds" (SCA, 272). Ecology and history merge in his imagination as Leopold writes that conquerors are self-defeating because they do not understand "what makes the community clock tick, and just what and who is valuable, and what and who is worthless, in community life" (240).

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