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It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture & Other Essaysby Wendell Berry
Synopses & Reviews
"Poet, novelist, and farmer Berry restates his love for the land in these sonorous essays. The title piece, his 2012 Jefferson Lecture, posits that an abiding affection for place, such as his family's deep ties to rural Kentucky, is essential for 'a neighborly, kindly and conserving economy.' Elsewhere, he explores his adventures in civil disobedience, Kentuckians' fraught relationship with their landscape, the coal industry's assault on Appalachia, and the horse-drawn agriculture of the Amish. Together, these loose-limbed writings elaborate on Berry's agrarian critique of industrial society and corporate power, discussing the devastation wrought by agribusiness on small farmers and the ecosphere and by modern mobility and consumerism on the human connection to nature. Berry's case for limits, localism and devotion to the soil is more manifesto than detailed argument. Alternating between lyricism and jeremiad, his writing bristles with contrarian jabs — he insists that abundant clean energy would just encourage more ecological havoc — that declaim more than they demonstrate. Still, these powerful, challenging essays show why Berry's vision of a sustainable, human-scaled society has proven so influential. Agent: Judy Klein, Kleinworks. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
When he accepted the invitation to deliver The Jefferson Lecture—our nations highest honor for distinguished intellectual achievement—Wendell Berry decided to take on the obligation of thinking again about the problems that have engaged him throughout his long career. He wanted a fresh start, not only in looking at the groundwork of the problems facing our nation and the earth itself, but in gaining hope from some examples of repair and healing even in these times of Late Capitalism and its destructive contagions. As a poet and writer he understood already that much can be gleaned from looking at the vocabulary of these problems themselves and how we describe them. And he settled on affection” as a method of engagement and solution. The result is the greatest speech he has delivered in his six decades of public life. It All Turns on Affection will take its place alongside The Unsettling of America and The Gift of Good Land as major testaments to the power and clarity of his contribution to American thought.
We have taken this opportunity to include a small handful of other recent essays and a wonderful conversation between Mr. Berry, his wife Tanya Berry, and the head of the National Endowment of the Humanities Jim Leech, which took place just after the award was announced. The result offers a wonderful continuation of the long conversation Berry has had with his readers over many years and as well as a fine introduction to his life and work.
About the Author
Wendell Berry is the author of more than fifty books of poetry, fiction, and essays. He was recently awarded the National Humanities Medal, the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Louis Bromfield Society Award. For more than forty years he has lived and farmed with his wife, Tanya, in Kentucky.
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