Book Review: The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder

Posted by on 09.26.08 | 1 Comment
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Review by Eric D. Lehman, Professor of English at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Review is linked to Umbrella: a journal of poetry and kindred prose

Note: While this book was published in 2003, it is a classic that VTH readers will want to make the acquaintance of, if they haven’t already!

When someone comes up with a fresh and startling way of looking at our world, you can bet that it is drawn from a combination of sources, fields, and disciplines. Gary Snyder has done just this with The Practice of the Wild: Essays joining his backgrounds in mythology, history, religion, literature, anthropology, language, and natural history. The result is a series of interlocking essays that present new approaches and methods for recovering our shared world.

Snyder approaches “nature” from oblique angles, sometimes leaping across a boulder field, sometimes running switchbacks up a trail, and sometimes traveling down the mountain rather than up. The project of the entire book is clear, however: “Is it possible that a society as a whole might stay on better terms with nature, and not simply by being foragers?” In essays like “The Place, The Region, and the Commons” and “Good, Wild, Sacred” he gives possibilities for that interaction. Read more of this review here.

The Practice of the Wild: Essays

Beth’s Note: Gary Snyder and Terry Tempest Williams are two contemporary nature writers that I read regularly. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Gary Snyder:

The point is to make intimate contact with the real world, the real self. Sacred refers to that which takes us out of our little selves into the whole mountains-and-rivers mandala universe…nature is not a place to visit, it is home.

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