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Imagination in Placeby Wendell Berry
Synopses & Reviews
A writer who can imagine the community belonging to its place” is one who has applied his knowledge and citizenship to achieve the goal to which Wendell Berry has always aspired—to be a native to his own local culture. And for Berry, what is local, fully imagined, becomes universal,” and the local” is to know ones place and allow the imagination to inspire and instill a practical respect for what is there besides ourselves.”
In Imagination in Place, we travel to the local cultures of several writers important to Berrys life and work, from Wallace Stegners great West and Ernest Gaines Louisiana plantation life to Donald Halls New England, and on to the Western frontier as seen through the Far East lens of Gary Snyder. Berry laments todays dispossessed and displaced, those writers and people with no home and no citizenship, but he argues that there is hope for the establishment of new local cultures in both the practical and literary sense.
Rich with Berrys personal experience of life as a Kentucky agrarian, the collection includes portraits of a few of Americas most imaginative writers, including James Still, Hayden Carruth, Jane Kenyon, John Haines, and several others.
"Berry, an outspoken cultural critic, agrarian and prolific author (with more than 50 books), writes that imagination 'brings what we want and what we have ever closer to being the same. It is the power that can save us from the prevailing insinuation that our place, our house, our spouse, and our automobile are not good enough.' In these 15 essays, culled from the past two decades, Berry consistently backs up this bold statement while discussing everything from the Civil War to Shakespeare to religion. Each piece illustrates Berry's assertion that there is an unbreakable connection between a literary work and the place in which it is conceived; to that end, he examines the influence of place on his own creation, the fictional Kentucky town of Port William, as well as the integral role of the natural world in Shakespeare's As You Like It and King Lear. Some of the selections feel redundant-the point is made time and again that we must cultivate our imaginations in order to exist harmoniously with our surroundings-but this thought-provoking volume does reinforce Berry's relevance as one of America's preeminent thinkers." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this varied and vibrant collection of new writings, Wendell Berry covers a wide landscape of interests relevant to us all, ranging from public policy to nature and spirituality. He shares his singular perspective on matters that affect each of us on personal and public levels--indeed, this collection confirms what Berry readers have long known: Few writers in America can match the depth of his thought or the ringing clarity of his prose. Imagination in Place brings to date Berry's perspective on such essential current concerns as agriculture, sustainability, and the economy. He addresses the latter with his much admired essay Faustian Economics, previously published in Harper's Magazine and included here--an especially prescient commentary given our country's current challenges with late capitalism. There are also beautiful essays of tribute, wherein Berry offers insights into the lives and works of writers such as Wallace Stegner, James Still, Gary Snyder, Kathleen Raine, Donald Hall, and Jane Kenyon. Altogether, readers familiar with Wendell Berry's work and those new to his thought will find the essays here to be full of extraordinary power and hope.
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