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An acclaimed novelist, poet, environmentalist, and farmer argues for a deeper connection to the land and community for the sake of America’s future. Since its publication in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural and spiritual discipline. Todays agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—and from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it. Sadly, as Berry notes in his Afterword, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. We continue to suffer loss of community, the devaluation of human work, and the destruction of nature under an economic system dedicated to the mechanistic pursuit of products and profits. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are good people working “to make something comely and enduring of our life on this earth.” Wendell Berry is one of those people, writing and working, as ever, with passion, eloquence, and conviction. “Wendell Berry is one of those rare individuals who speaks to us always of responsibility, of the individual cultivation of an active and aware participation in the arts of life.” —The Bloomsbury Review “[Berry’s] poems, novels and essays . . . are probably the most sustained contemporary articulation of America’s agrarian, Jeffersonian ideal.” —Publishers Weekly
A critical inquiry into the ways Americans have exploited and continue to exploit the land that sustains them, tracing attitudes toward and methods of farming from the eighteenth century to the present
The essays in The Gift of Good Land are as true today as when they were first published in 1981; the problems addressed here are still with us and the solutions no nearer to hand. One of the insistent themes of this book is the interdependence, the wholeness, the oneness of people, the land, weather, animals, and family. To touch one is to tamper with them all. We live in one functioning organism whose separate parts are artificially isolated by our culture. The twenty-four essays in this collection cover a variety of subjects; the author's journeys to the Peruvian Andes, to the desert of southern Arizona, and to Amish country to study the evolution of ancient native agricultural practices. In Solving for Pattern,” Mr. Berry lists fourteen critical standards for solving agricultural problems that can just as easily be used as standards for solving personal and family problems. In the title essay, the author examines our Judeo-Christian heritage to discover parallels with the Buddhist doctrine of right livelihood” or right occupation.” He develops the compelling argument that the gift” of good land has strings attached. We have it only on loan and only for as long as we practice good stewardship.
Only a farmer could delve so deeply into the origins of food, and only a writer of Wendell Berry's caliber could convey it with such conviction and eloquence. Drawn from more than thirty years of work, this collection is essential reading for all who care about what they eat.
"Here is a human being speaking with calm and sanity out of the wilderness. We would do well to hear him." —The Washington Post Book World The Art of the Commonplace gathers twenty essays by Wendell Berry that offer an agrarian alternative to our dominant urban culture. Grouped around five themes—an agrarian critique of culture, agrarian fundamentals, agrarian economics, agrarian religion, and geobiography—these essays promote a clearly defined and compelling vision important to all people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, disease, and destructiveness of contemporary American culture. Why is agriculture becoming culturally irrelevant, and at what cost? What are the forces of social disintegration and how might they be reversed? How might men and women live together in ways that benefit both? And, how does the corporate takeover of social institutions and economic practices contribute to the destruction of human and natural environments? Through his staunch support of local economies, his defense of farming communities, and his call for family integrity, Berry emerges as the champion of responsibilities and priorities that serve the health, vitality and happiness of the whole community of creation.
The America many people would like to believe in is convincingly explored in this volume of poems by a writer close to the heart of things. The sanity and eloquence of these poems spring from the land in Kentucky where Wendell Berry was born, married, lives, farms, and writes. From classic pastoral themes both lyrical and reflective, to a verse play, to a dramatic narrative and the manic, entertaining, prescient ravings of Berry's Mad Farmer, these poems show a unity of language and consciousness, skill and sensitivity, that has placed Wendell Berry at the front rank of contemporary American poets.

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