Good Nature Writing

Good nature writing to Wright would consist of a transcendentalist mentality, “a striving against artificial conditions” of city life, considering nature an eternal duality between male and female, and a “stepping forward” mentality into a future in balance with nature (157). She considers these ideas to be a “public appeal” which has “opened an entirely new field for authors, and been productive not only of much interesting and instructive reading-matter but a great deal that must take a permanent rank as literature” (157). I agree with her criteria, except for the idea of moving forward or backward to achieve a balance with nature because this implies that time is linear, which I do not agree with. I would describe this more as a healing process between nature and humanity. There is no going forward or backward because all we ever have is the present moment. I strongly agree with the idea of nature embodying both sexes since most species have both sexes, allowing for life to be both eternal and fragile. I also agree with “striving against artificial conditions” of city life because losing touch with the natural world feels like losing a tremendous part of what defines our humanity (157). We should spend time learning about the wonders of the world that human hands did not entirely create. I would define good nature writing to consist of the qualities Wright mentions, except for the idea of linear time, as well as a few other ideas. I would define good nature writing to consist of some notion of the people in the text learning how to survive while embarking on a journey out of the city life. I would also hope to see the people working to understand names for different entities in nature, whether plant or animal species. A balance between some sort of civilization for humans and the rest of the natural world would be essential to good nature writing as well. The story also may be apocalyptic and describe a world with imbalances between civilization and nature. The people could act compassionately toward other living creatures, only killing anything if they need to for their own sustenance, or they could create a darker dynamic between humans and other animals to shed light on something the author wants to illuminate to society. Good nature writing should strive to teach a lesson about our relation to the natural world that relates to the way a society lives. Nature writing should have some basis in the author’s personal experiences or else the lesson that is taught won’t hold much water.

Mazel, David (ed). A Century of Early Ecocriticism. Ch./Art: Excerpts p. 154-162. Pub. University of Georgia Press 2001


One response to this post.

  1. I agree with most of what you have written here, although I would argue for a different interpretation when she discusses moving forward and backward through time. When she discusses “going back to Nature”, it is less a movement back in time than a method of copying older societies that existed before the rise of “artificial” environments, and she even states that this is to be “deplored” because humans can never achieve this same relationship of the past within the present moment. When she talks about “stepping forward”, I would argue that this is just a simplified way of expressing the opposite of the previous argument: human beings cannot rely on re-creating the past, but must make the best of the present to ensure a better life for themselves. However, this is just my personal interpretation.

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