Nature Writing Interrogated

You will find here a free download of a PDF, entitled Nature Writing Interrogated: 5000 years of nostalgia.

It’s a longish essay (about 40,000 words) and explores the long history of writing about nature, beginning very roughly with the Gilgamesh epic and romping through to pieces in last month’s Guardian. I have undertaken this task because for half a longish lifetime I have been growing in unease about the way nature has always been used as a repository for civilised mankind’s regrets and yearnings. My feeling has been that it was ever thus and that in recent decades the result has worked against, rather than toward, a proper appreciation of nature.

The PDF is, of course, searchable, so one could simply skip through it for themes of interest. I have structured the piece such that the Introduction does lay out much of my argument including some of the definitions I use in my case.

I should stress that I have intended mostly to sketch an argument, and in a manner I think of as suggestive and indicative rather than complete and definitive. My hope is that readers may use the piece as a launching place for their own more thorough reading and research.

Here’s the Contents of the essay:

Nature Writing: Gilgamesh to Virgil
Nature Writing: Chaucer to Tennyson
Nature Writing: The 20th and 21st centuries
Nature Writing: Richard Mabey
New Nature Writing: Robert Macfarlane
Appendix 1: RDN gets personal
Appendix 2: The Wayfarers
Appendix 3: The Wilderness-makers

Here’s the download. To read it you will need to enter the password: BonaFide

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Publication date

12 January 2020