Cover image for Nature writing : the tradition in English
Nature writing : the tradition in English
Finch, Robert, 1943-
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2002]

Physical Description:
1152 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Rev. ed. of: The Norton book of nature writing. 1st ed. 1990.
Added Uniform Title:
Norton book of nature writing.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH81 .N67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Encounters with nature have produced some of the great literature of our age. Darwin's ruminations on the Galapagos Islands, Thoreau's communion with Walden Pond, and Rachel Carson's evocation of the rocky coast of Maine are monuments in the history of writing and thought. No less significant are the searching essays of such contemporary writers as Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Annie Dillard, and Bill McKibben. Nature Writing: The Tradition in English, includes 152 selections by 132 authors. This is the definitive collection of a many-voiced genre that has flourished in England and America for over two hundred years.Here one will find such classic selections as William Bartram's parley with crocodiles in south Florida, John Hay's exchange with a dying Arctic dovekie, and John Muir's riding out a mountain windstorm in the branches of a lofty Douglas spruce.New essays by Vladimir Nabokov, Scott Sanders, David Quammen, and Gary Snyder have been included, along with selections by such writers as David Abram, Diane Ackerman, Rick Bass, Jane Brox, John Daniel, Trudy Dittmar, Linda Hasselstrom, Ray Gonzalez, and Sharman Apt Russell. The editors of this volume have taken a special interest in including writers of color, as well as authors from many parts of the English-speaking world. Recently rediscovered works of a number of earlier writers, especially those of nineteenth-century women, also expand the range of this collection.Nature Writing: The Tradition in English displays nature in all the incarnations--enticing, chaotic, generous, cruel, mysterious, and heartbreaking--that have inspired men and women to portray it in words. The variety and strength of these selections represent one of the most significant and original literary achievements of our culture.Never before have our encounters with the natural world been imbued with so much peril and so much possibility. By listening to the voices of those who have observed and reflected upon that world so powerfully, we are all enriched.Gilbert White * William Bartram * Meriwether Lewis * John James Audubon * Ralph Waldo Emerson * Charles Darwin * Susan Fenimore Cooper * Henry David Thoreau * Walt Whitman * Samuel Clemens * John Muir * Mabel Osgood Wright * Ernest Thompson Seton * Luther Standing Bear * Rockwell Kent * Virginia Woolf Isak Dinesen * D. H. Lawrence * Aldo Leopold * Vladimir Nabokov * Sigurd Olson * Edwin Way Teale * E. B. White * Ren#65533; Dubos * Norman Maclean * John Steinbeck * George Orwell * Laurens Van Der Post * Rachel Carson * Loren Eiseley * Wallace Stegner * Lewis Thomas * John Hay * Thomas Merton * Faith McNulty * Farley Mowat * Maxine Kumin * Ann Haymond Zwinger * Edward Abbey * Peter Matthiessen * Gary Snyder * Edward O. Wilson * John McPhee * Edward Hoagland * Wendell Berry * Sue Hubbell * Jim Harrison * William Least Heat-Moon Bruce Chatwin * Maxine Hong Kingston * Linda Hasselstrom * Trudy Dittmar * Alice Walker * Rick Bass * Annie Dillard * Barry Lopez * Scott Sanders * David Rains Wallace * Alison Deming * Gretel Ehrlich * Emily Hiestand * Linda Hogan * Diane Ackerman * John Daniel * David Quammen * Jamaica Kincaid * Ray Gonzales * Gary Paul Nabhan * Louise Erdrich * David Mas Masumoto * Sharman Apt Russell * Terry Tempest Williams * Jane Brox * Bill McKibben * Janisse Ray * David Abram * Freeman House * Barbara Kingsolver * Ellen Meloy * Doug Peacock * Michael Pollan

Author Notes

Robert Finch is the author of five books of essays
John Elder teaches English and environmental studies at Middlebury College

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In the dozen years since Finch and Elder constructed The Norton Book of Nature Writing, the genre has evolved significantly in literary splendor, stylistic and topical diversity, popularity, and urgency. This renaissance inspired essayist Finch and environmental studies professor Elder to create a new chronologically organized anthology that showcases 40 emerging and rediscovered nature writers and such giants as Emerson, Thoreau, Leopold, Dillard, and Lopez. One of the most obvious changes from the first edition, as the editors readily attest, is the inclusion of many more women, from noteworthy pioneers Susan Fenimore Cooper and Mary Austin to imaginative newcomers Janisse Ray and Alison Hawthorne Deming. British, Canadian, Caribbean, and Australian writers are also represented as are Native American writers, including Linda Hogan and Leslie Marmon Silko. Even the realm called nature has been extended to embrace gardens and farms, the "working landscapes" scrutinized by Michael Pollan and Gary Paul Nabhan. Superb choices in writers and works make for a substantial and illuminating volume, a landmark in a genre of increasing consequence. Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

These two new volumes join the increasing number of fine nature anthologies compiled to serve as textbooks for college courses on literature and the environment and to provide perspective on the evolution of nature writing. As the expanded second edition of The Norton Book of Nature Writing, Finch and Elder's collection includes 133 authors, increased from 94, and almost three times as many women authors. Writers from the traditional nature-writing canon, such as Thoreau and Muir, are included along with minority writers who offer a different perspective on nature and our relationship to the environment. In At Home on This Earth, an anthology of female nature writers, Anderson (Sisters of the Earth) and Edwards (Such News of the Land) include well-known authors such as Rachel Carson and Annie Dillard, as well as obscure though once-prominent authors such as Olive Thorne Miller and Edith M. Thomas. In addition, they have broadened the notion of what nature writing is by including writers not conventionally a part of this genre such as bell hooks and Alice Walker. Both books cover two centuries of writings in English arranged chronologically to highlight the differences and similarities between writing of the past and present. Almost as important as the selections are the author bio-sketches and critical comments about their works, which provide the historical and social perspective for each selection. The Norton work is limited to nonfiction essays, while selections from the 51 authors featured in At Home include essays, short stories, journal entries, and memoir excerpts. Both works are essential for nature-writing collections and are highly recommended for any collection. Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ., Sault Ste. Marie, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Editors' Notep. 14
Introductionp. 15
Introduction to the 1990 Norton Book of Nature Writingp. 21
from The Natural History and Antiquities of Selbornep. 34
from Letters from an American Farmerp. 52
from Sketches of Eighteenth century Americap. 59
from Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, ...p. 65
from American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United Statesp. 77
from The Journal of a Naturalistp. 82
from David Thompson's Narrative of His Explorations in Western America, 1784-1812p. 86
from Journals of Dorothy Wordsworthp. 90
from The Journals of Lewis and Clarkp. 96
from Wanderings in South America, the North-West of the United States, and the Antillesp. 105
from Ornithological Biographyp. 117
The Natural Worldp. 122
from The Natural History Prose Writings of John Clarep. 123
from Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians ...p. 129
from Naturep. 141
from The Journals of Ralph Waldo Emersonp. 144
from Voyage of H.M.S. Beaglep. 152
from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selectionp. 160
from The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sexp. 161
from Rural Hoursp. 164
from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Riversp. 170
from Walden: or, Life in the Woodsp. 172
Walkingp. 180
from The Maine Woodsp. 205
from Journalsp. 211
from Glaucus; or, The Wonders of the Shorep. 220
from Specimen Days and Collectp. 224
from Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributariesp. 230
from Life on the Mississippip. 237
from An Island Gardenp. 239
In Mammoth Cavep. 245
A Wind-Storm in the Forestsp. 251
The Water-Ouzelp. 258
My Friend the Pigp. 270
from Idle Days in Patagoniap. 274
from Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevadap. 276
from Notebooks and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkinsp. 282
Out of Doors in Februaryp. 287
Absence of Design in Naturep. 295
The Story of a Gardenp. 300
from Wild Animals I Have Knownp. 305
from Moths of the Limberlostp. 313
The Land of Little Rainp. 321
Naturep. 327
Hampshirep. 331
The End of Summerp. 337
from N by Ep. 340
The Death of the Mothp. 343
from Out of Africap. 346
Flowery Tuscanyp. 349
Unknown Erosp. 362
Wave and Cliffp. 364
from The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Codp. 367
from A Sand County Almanacp. 376
Love in the Desertp. 398
from Tarka the Otterp. 411
from An Almanac for Modernsp. 416
Butterfliesp. 423
Northern Lightsp. 433
The Lost Woodsp. 436
A Slight Sound at Eveningp. 440
The Ancient People and the Newly Comep. 449
A Family of Landscapesp. 453
from A River Runs Through Itp. 458
from The Log from the Sea of Cortezp. 466
from The Heart of the Hunterp. 469
The Snakes Are Aboutp. 475
The Marginal Worldp. 480
The Judgment of the Birdsp. 486
from Black Boyp. 494
The Lively Petes of Parque Vargasp. 497
Glen Canyon Submersusp. 504
Coda: Wilderness Letterp. 514
from A Landp. 520
from The Inland Islandp. 526
Death in the Openp. 533
The World's Biggest Membranep. 536
The Common Nightp. 539
The Dovekie and the Ocean Sunfishp. 541
Rain and the Rhinocerosp. 546
Mousep. 554
from Never Cry Wolfp. 561
Moments and Journeysp. 566
Silver Snafflesp. 573
Of Red-Tailed Hawks and Black-Tailed Gnatcatchersp. 577
Beginningsp. 587
from The Treep. 592
The Island of Auksp. 606
The Serpents of Paradisep. 614
The Great American Desertp. 620
from The Tree Where Man Was Bornp. 628
from The Wind Birdsp. 642
Pig Talesp. 644
A Very Warm Mountainp. 651
The Bird of Paradisep. 658
Ancient Forests of the Far Westp. 663
Under the Snowp. 684
Hailing the Elusory Mountain Lionp. 691
Thoughts on Returning to the City After Five Months on a Mountain Where the Wolves Howledp. 704
Owning It Allp. 707
An Entrance to the Woodsp. 718
The Making of a Marginal Farmp. 728
The Way to Rainy Mountainp. 737
Gila Wildernessp. 1052
Black Women and the Wildernessp. 1063
High Tide in Tucsonp. 1068
Weeds Are Usp. 1079
The Clan of One-Breasted Womenp. 1091
Baldwinsp. 1099
The Ecology of Magicp. 1102
from The Ninemile Wolvesp. 1114
From The End of Naturep. 1120
Built by Firep. 1131
Forest Belovedp. 1133
Permissionsp. 1137
Indexp. 1147