Cover image for The Norton book of nature writing
The Norton book of nature writing
Finch, Robert, 1943-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [1990]

Physical Description:
921 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH81 .N67 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



W. W. Norton is pleased to announce that The Norton Book of Nature Writing is now available in a paperback college edition.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The Norton literature guides have been used in colleges for years and have supplied the casual reader with a tour of the classics. The Literary Companion to Science eschews the conventional structure, while the nature collection is in line with Norton's familiar format--that is, a chronologically arranged selection of excerpts from the writings of well-known authors. Gratzer, editor of The Literary Companion to Science, explains that his aim "has been to explore the incursion of science into literature." He draws from poetry, memoirs, journalism, stories, and novels "inspired or influenced by science or scientists." His material is arranged by general category rather than by author. In each of the chapters, the quoted material is run together, separated only by a brief introductory phrase that mentions the source and may (or may not) link the material to the previous passage. If his purpose is to portray the life of scientists to the general reader, the lack of more detailed explanations and introductions can leave the uninitiated feeling like they missed the punch line. Many of the selections are terrific, but others need more quoted material or explanatory text. However, for those in the know, it is a treasure trove of intriguing profiles, humor, and serious reflections. Bibliography; index of names and institutions; index of titles. The commendable selections in the nature collection demonstrate that nature writing entails more than landscape descriptions and accounts of animal behavior. Lyrical writing, punchy prose, and demanding environmental essays can be found in this volume. Among the authors are Dorothy Wordsworth, James Audubon, Charles Darwin, Virginia Woolf, E. B. White, Edward Hoagland, and Annie Dillard. Since teachers and students are seeking books to support reading across the curriculum, this book is especially welcome. Great selections for independent reading as well. Bibliography; to be indexed. --Denise Perry Donavin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Covering more than 200 years of nature writing, this volume is more than a sampling of the genre, it is a feast. Finch ( The Primal Place ) and Elder ( Imagining the Earth: Poetry and the Vision of Nature ) have assembled a dazzling array of British and American writers whose works range from pastoral to impressionistic, from personal observation to the imaginative and philosophical. Many of the authors are readily identified with nature writing: Gilbert White, William Bartram, Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold. The editors have some surprises for us, introducing essays on nature by Thomas Merton, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Washington Irving, D. H. Lawrence, George Catlin. About one-third of the selections represent modern writers, among them Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Wendell Berry. For some readers this anthology will be a voyage of discovery; for others, an opportunity to renew acquaintance with old friends. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Nature is the language of the Earth and its creatures--the windstorm in the forest, the tadpole in the pond, snowflakes on the summit, the fins and forms of most fish, toadstools, moss, tarantulas, and the silk of spiders. The ``children of Linnaeus,'' nature writers such as Darwin, Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Audubon, and Muir, have captured the essence of wilderness and beast. This anthology draws upon the works of these and 83 other authors, spanning two centuries of English and American literature to provide a concise introduction to this literary form. A worthy addition to general and academic collections.-- Mikey Scott, Torrey Pines High Sch., Del Mar, Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-- The range of this anthology indicates the breadth of its appeal--authors from 1789 to 1987 and concerns as diverse as the destructive majesty of elephants and friendship with pigs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 13
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 & South Carolina, Georgia, East & 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
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
from A Country Yearp. 743
Timescape with Signpostp. 750
The Silencep. 754
The Beginner's Mindp. 760
In Salmon's Waterp. 767
Under Old Nell's Skirtp. 773
Atop the Moundp. 778
From The Songlinesp. 782
A City Person Encountering Naturep. 787
From Living at the End of Timep. 791
The Giftsp. 797
The Circle Is the Way to Seep. 811
Of Moose and a Moose Hunterp. 819
The Big Snowp. 833
Death of a Hornetp. 842
Nighthawks Fly in Thunderstormsp. 845
Moosep. 850
Am I Blue?p. 863
Heaven and Earth in Jestp. 868
Living Like Weaselsp. 876
Total Eclipsep. 880
Cutoverp. 892
from Arctic Dreamsp. 901
The American Geographiesp. 914
Buckeyep. 924
The Human Elementp. 930
Wolf, Eagle, Bear: An Alaska Notebookp. 937
Friends, Foes, and Working Animalsp. 944
The Flora and Fauna of Las Vegasp. 950
Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dahp. 960
The Batsp. 967
And the Coyotes Will Lift a Legp. 972
Why Leaves Turn Color in the Fallp. 980
A Word in Favor of Rootlessnessp. 984
Strawberries Under Icep. 991
Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imaginationp. 1003
Alien Soilp. 1015
Northwest Passagep. 1022
The Third Eye of the Lizardp. 1028
Calling Animals by Namep. 1034
from The Desert Smells Like Rain: A Naturalist in Papago Indian Countryp. 1039
Big Grassp. 1043
Planting Seedsp. 1048
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