We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. , Down the River, the longest chapter of the book, recalls a journey by boat down Glen Canyon undertaken by Abbey and an associate, in part inspired by John Wesley Powell's original voyage of discovery in 1869. He was in favor of returning to nature and gaining the freedom that was lost with the inventions that take us places in this day and age: A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, power lines, and right-angled surfaces.  However, he also sees the desert as "a-tonal, cruel, clear, inhuman, neither romantic nor classical, motionless and emotionless, at one and the same time â another paradox â both agonized and deeply still. Many of the book's chapters are studies of the animals, plants, geography, and climate of the region around Arches National Monument. I want to know it all, possess it all, embrace the entire scene intimately, deeply, totally, as a man desires a beautiful woman. Edward Abbey. Founded in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson intended it to protect the nationâs wilderness. , Finally, Abbey suggests that man needs nature to sustain humanity: "No, wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. This was his breaking, it seemed. , Finally, several chapters are devoted largely to Abbey's reflections of the damaging impact of humans on the everyday life, nature, and culture of the region. , Several chapters center around Abbey's expeditions beyond the park, either accompanied or alone, and often serve as opportunities for rich descriptions of the surrounding environments and further observations about the natural and human world. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness is the work for which Abbey is best known and by which he is most frequently defined. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness is an autobiographical work by American writer Edward Abbey, originally published in 1968. Many of the chapters also engage in lengthy critiques of modern Western civilization, United States politics, and the decline of America's natural environment. , He also criticizes what he sees as the dominant social paradigm, what he calls the expansionist view, and the belief that technology will solve all our problems: "Confusing life expectancy with life-span, the gullible begin to believe that medical science has accomplished a miracleâlengthened human life! "My students can't get enough of your charts and their results have gone through the roof." Born to an organist mother who taught him to love art and an anarchist father who taught him to be skeptical of the government, Edward Abbey took to literature and politics at a very young age. His fourth book and his first book-length non-fiction work, it follows three fictional books: Jonathan Troy (1954), The Brave Cowboy (1956), and Fire on the Mountain (1962). Chapters 7-8. " He quite firmly believes that our agenda should change, that we need to reverse our path and reconnect with that something we have lost - indeed, that mankind and civilization needs wilderness for its own edification. Polemic: Industrial Tourism and the National Parks is an essay fiercely criticizing the policies and vision of the National Park Service, particularly the process by which developing the parks for automotive access has dehumanized the experiences of nature, and created a generation of lazy and unadventurous Americans whilst permanently damaging the views and landscapes of the parks. Per his final wishes, his friends buried him in his sleeping bag in an anonymous section of the Cabeza Prieta Desert in Arizona. The book is autobiographical and follows Abbey through one summer as a seasonal Park Ranger in Arches National Monument (years before its status was changed to a National Park). He describes how the desert affects society and more specifically the individual on a multifaceted, sensory level. Desert Solitaire is a collection of vignettes about life in the wilderness and the nature of the desert itself by park ranger and conservationist, Edward Abbey. , The wilderness is equal to freedom for Abbey, it is what separates him from others and allows him to have his connection with the planet.  He continues by saying that man is rightly obsessed with Mother Nature. The tension between Abbey's romanticism and his cynical realism becomes an integral part of the persuasion driving the chapters narrated in the voice identified as … Desert Solitaire lives on because it is a work that reflects profound love of nature and a bitter abhorrence of all that would desecrate it. I cannot attempt to deal with it here.. Abbey is not unaware, however, of the behaviour of his human kin; instead, he realizes that people have very different ideas about how to experience nature. He makes the acknowledgement that we came from the wilderness, we have lived by it, and we will return to it. Desert Solitaire - Chapter 4 Cliffrose and Bayonets Summary & Analysis. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.  In this process, many of the events and characters described are often fictionalized in many key respects, and the account is not entirely true to the author's actual experiences, highlighting the importance of the philosophical and aesthetic qualities of the writing rather than its strict adherence to an autobiographical genre. "Abbey is one of our very best writers about wilderness country," observed Wallace Stegner in the Los Angeles Times Book Review ; "he is also a gadfly with a stinger like a scorpion." When Abbey is lounging in his chair in 110-degree heat at Arches and observes that the mountains are snow-capped and crystal clear, it shows what nature provides: one extreme is able to counter another. He could feasibly head back to town, but negotiating the way there and back in the pitch black would be suicide. Abbey also describes his difficulty finding the language, faith, and philosophy to adequately capture his understanding of nature and its effect on the soul.. Abbey contrasts the difficult lives of the many who unsuccessfully sought their fortune in the desert whilst others left millionaires from lucky strikes, and the legacy of government policy and human greed that can be seen in the modern landscape of mines and shafts, roads and towns. , Several chapters focus on Abbey's interactions with the people of the Southwest or explorations of human history. Some of the oddities of water in the desert, such as flash floods and quicksand, are also explored. ― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. Although Desert Solitaire is constructed in chapters, each one might be considered as an independent, stand-alone essay. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. Another major theme is the sanctity of untamed wilderness. Abbey makes statements that connect humanity to nature as a whole. Shortly after Abbeyâs time in the desert, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act (1964), with the aim of defining, and therefore protecting, Americaâs uninhabited nature reserves. From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. He will make himself an exile from the earth. , Although Abbey rejected the label of nature writing to describe his work, Desert Solitaire was one of a number of influential works which contributed to the popularity and interest in the nature writing genre in the 1960s and 1970s. Chapter 1 Summary: “The First Morning” In the late 1950s, author Edward Abbey takes a position as a seasonal park ranger in Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah. We need a refuge even though we may never need to go there. I may never in my life go to Alaska, for example, but I am grateful that it is there. Abbey's overall entrancement with the desert, and in turn its indifference towards man, is prevalent throughout his writings. Abbey's impression is that we are trapped by the machinations of mainstream culture. If industrial man continues to multiply its numbers and expand his operations he will succeed in his apparent intention, to seal himself off from the natural and isolate himself within a synthetic prison of his own making. Until now. 78 likes.  Man prioritizes material items over nature, development and expansion for the sake of development: There may be some among the readers of this book, like the earnest engineer, who believe without question that any and all forms of construction and development are intrinsic goods, in the national parks as well as anywhere else, who virtually identify quantity with quality and therefore assume that the greater the quantity of traffic, the higher the value received. For the album dedicated to Edward Abbey, see, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Desert_Solitaire&oldid=947047761, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 23 March 2020, at 23:53. Desert Solitaire - Chapter 2 Solitaire Summary & Analysis. He timed this call to action perfectly. Mountains complement desert as desert complements city, as wilderness complements and complete civilization.". Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness Edward Abbey The author of the book Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey, talked frequently throughout the book about the beauty of nature and ways that human beings are destroying the natural beauty of the world we live in.The way abbey views nature … Whether we live or die is a matter of absolutely no concern whatsoever to the desert. During this stretch of his adventures, Abbey devotes more attention to the populations of humans in the area than compared to his measured analysis of the wildlife in Utah. 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