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Very Good. No Dj. Larger 8vo. pp. 234, "In this diverse and intelligent collection, Solnit (Wanderlust) gathers 18 examples of her ongoing investigation of art, landscape, feminism, and the importance of how we relate to the places in which we live. Her counterintuitive attitude is always in the foreground. Here, it frames the thinking behind this book: "I always thought Eve and the serpent must have conversed at greater length than Genesis records, " she writes. And that imagined conversation, of which Eve was an active part, is Solnit's inspiration for looking at the world with an eye toward complexity. Thus, she interweaves ideas about physics, walking, the difference between nature photography and landscape photography, and much more with discussion of a number of artists (Richard Misrach, Robert Dawson, and Petah Coyne, to name only a few) to make a challenging but rewarding whole. Though most of these pieces have been published before, their appearances were scattered in magazines and in art books; to have them together offers an excellent vantage point from which to examine and enjoy the thinking of this maverick."
Publishers Weekly, 2001-05-07 Invoking Hannah Arendt's observation, "Metaphors are the means by which the oneness of the world is poetically brought about," Solnit launches into a mlange of cultural and political criticism in these 19 essays (many previously published). But Solnit doesn't tarry long on easy targets, diving instead into political thickets, guided by the preoccupation with environmentalism and social justice that has informed her previous books (the highly praised Wanderlust: A History of Walking and The Hollow City were both published within the last year). Here, she addresses subjects like the myth of Eden; the politics and aesthetics of nature photography and calendars; interconnections between the WWII-era nuclear physicists' frequent walks and the hydrogen bomb; the metaphoric significance of natural history museums; and the meaning, for women, of the "deadly" Medusa myth. While her frame of reference encompasses political, academic and historical territories, Solnit's foremost theme prevails: the tensions between human quests for "civilization" and for nourishment in nature. Neatly balancing reportage, critical opinion and literary metaphor, Solnit standing clear-eyed on the shoulders of Walter Benjamin, Kristeva, Rachel Carson and many others attempts a bold, critical synthesis that, if occasionally unequal to its lofty goals, always provokes and challenges. Solnit's important contribution to contemporary feminist and environmental literature, as well as social and art criticism, is equally crucial for ushering "real-world" environmental politics fully and thoughtfully into the ivory tower. Photos. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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