Life and WorkBook - 2007
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.