Wendell Berry: Life and Work

Front Cover
Jason Peters
University Press of Kentucky, Jul 20, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 368 pages
Essayist, social critic, poet, “mad farmer,” novelist, teacher, and prophet: Wendell Berry has been called many things, but the broad sweep of his contemporary relevance and influence defies facile labels. With his unique perspective and far-reaching vision, Berry poses complex questions about humankind and our relationship to the land and offers simple but profound solutions. Berry’s essays, novels, and poems give voice to a provocative but consistent philosophy, one that extends far beyond its agrarian core to include elements of sociology, the natural sciences, politics, religion, philosophy, linguistics, agriculture, and other seemingly incompatible fields of study. Wendell Berry: Life and Work examines this wise and original thinker, appraising his written work and exploring his influence as an activist and artist. Jason Peters has assembled a broad variety of writers including Hayden Carruth, Sven Birkerts, Barbara Kingsolver, Stanley Hauerwas, Donald Hall, Ed McClanahan, Bill McKibben, Scott Russell Sanders, Norman Wirzba, Wes Jackson, and Eric T. Freyfogle. Each contributor examines an aspect of Berry’s varied yet cohesive body of work. Also included are highly personal glimpses of Wendell Berry: his career, academic influence, and unconventional lifestyle. These deft sketches of Berry show the purity of his agrarian lifestyle and demonstrate that there is nothing simple about the life to which he has devoted himself. He embraces a life that sustains him not by easy purchase and haste but by physical labor and patience, not by mindless acquiescence to a centralized economy but by careful attention to local ways and wisdom. Wendell Berry: Life and Work combines biographical sketches, personal accounts, literary criticism, and social commentary. Together, the contributors illuminate Berry as he is: a complex man of place and community with an astonishing depth of domestic, intellectual, filial, and fraternal attributes. The result is a rich portrait of one of America’s most profound and honest thinkers.
 

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Wendell Berry: life and work

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Anyone unacquainted with Wendell Berry-man of letters, farmer, recipient of numerous awards, modern-day Jeremiah, and iconoclast of contemporary culture-will find no better overview of his life and ... Read full review

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As someone privileged enough to spend time speaking with Wendell Berry about his work, I am profoundly disappointed. A poet's work is intricately related to his/her life, regardless of whether it is confessional or not. Without some serious critique of the poems themselves, I find that this book is a rather pointless exercise, fitting for the genre of those who enjoy "books about books no one has read, but everyone can discuss."  

Contents

Introduction
1
Aint They the Berries
12
Wendell Berry on War and Peace Or Port William versus the Empire
17
Words Addressed to Our Condition Exactly
34
The Best Noise in The World
45
Wendell Berrys Political Vision
49
How Wendell Berry SingleHandedly Preserved Three Hundred Years of Agrarian Wisdom
60
Memory and Hope in the World of Port William
66
Hemingways Nick and Wendell Berrys Art
192
At His Desk as on His Land
209
Wendell Berry and the Traditionalist Critique of Meritocracy
212
Looking the Technological Gift Horse in the Mouth
230
Agrarian Artist
241
Education Heresy and the Deadly Disease of the World
256
Wendells Window and the Winds Eye
282
The Art of Buying Nothing
287

Politics Nature and Value in Wendell Berrys Art of the Commonplace
76
Berry Britannica
88
Wendell Berry and the TwentietyCentury Agrarian Series
96
A Citizen of the Real World
113
It All Turns on Affection
119
Wendell Berry the Professor
137
An Economy of Gratitude
142
Letters from a Humble Radical
156
Wendell Berry and the Limits of Populism
173
Fidelity
296
Wendell Berry and the Alternative Tradition in American Political Thought
300
A Long Shelf
316
Afterword
319
Chronology
325
Selected Bibliography
329
Contributors
335
Index
339
Copyright

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Page xiv - I desire to speak somewhere without bounds; like a man in a waking moment, to men in their waking moments; for I am convinced that I cannot exaggerate enough even to lay the foundation of a true expression.
Page 2 - ... to obtain it. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which it puts is the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it. Thus his moral ground is taken from under his feet. The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as what are called the "means

About the author (2007)

Jason Peters is associate professor of English at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

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