By the Light of the Glow-Worm Lamp: Three Centuries of Reflections on Nature

Overview

From ancient Greece to the close of the second millennium, the keen scientific eye has been translated over and over into graceful and meaningful texts in which not only the world observed but the act of observation itself is set down for the common reader. By the Light of the Glow-Worm Lamp represents the best of the nature-writing genre in over three dozen works from the past three centuries.

"...anthology of the best of the nature-writing genre in selections from the last three centuries including ...

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Overview

From ancient Greece to the close of the second millennium, the keen scientific eye has been translated over and over into graceful and meaningful texts in which not only the world observed but the act of observation itself is set down for the common reader. By the Light of the Glow-Worm Lamp represents the best of the nature-writing genre in over three dozen works from the past three centuries.

"...anthology of the best of the nature-writing genre in selections from the last three centuries including Audubon, Rachel Carson, Charles Darwin, Vladimir Nabokov, D.H. Lawrence, Mark Twain and T. Roosevelt."

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Presents the best of nature writing in over three dozen works from the past three centuries. Selections are organized in sections on landscape, birds, beasts, and insects and fish. Authors include Charles Darwin, Rachel Carson, and Annie Dillard, as well as many who did not train as scientists, such as D. H. Lawrence and Vladimir Nabokov. Includes an introduction outlining the history of nature writing, and brief biographical notes on authors. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
Manguel's (A History of Reading, 1996, etc.) collection of natural history essays is overburdened with selections from Victorian Englishmen, with a smattering of odd gems to sustain the reader's interest. Late 19th- and early 20th-century English writings on nature are known for their high coloration and elegiac tone, where nothing is left unsaid and the din of words can obscure the subject. That style evidently appeals to this editor. The anthology—-divided into sections on landscape, birds, beasts, and on insects and fish—-buzzes with the work of John Clare and Philip Henry Gosse, Richard Jeffries, Henry Seebohm, and Charles Darwin. Edmund Selous's tone is typical: "If life is, as some hold it to be, a vast melancholy ocean over which ships more or less sorrow-laden continually pass and ply. " begins his essay on bird watching. If you push these gents to the side, though, a number of pleasures bob to the surface. They include Annie Dillard's meadow nightwatch ("I must have seen a thousand grasshoppers, alarums and excursions clicking over the clover, knee-high to me") and Maurice Maeterlinck's wonderfully stuffy tribute to the pismire. We also overhear Vladimir Nabokov deciding whether or not it will be a good day for glimpsing butterflies. Then there are the 18th-century contrarian tweakings of Bedfordshire vicar Charles Abbot, for whom autumn "is the one favorable time to realize how grand a color is a bright green." Mark Twain and D.H. Lawrence offer terrific, if not exactly unknown, landscape notes. Diane Ackerman elegantly reminds readers to get out and observe while the observing is still to be had. With a few fine exceptions, then, here's the nature essay at itsmost quaint and rhapsodic, from empurpled pens.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306459924
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 8/22/1998
  • Pages: 373
  • Lexile: 1340L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Landscape
The Falkland Islands 11
La Pampa 25
The Atlantic Forest 31
The Falls of Niagara 43
Fauna and Flora of Nevada 47
Shooting the Rapids in a Batteau 53
Heavenly Place 61
Three Natural Disasters 67
Hoyle's Mouth 77
Prophetic Autumn 81
A Ramble in May 87
An October Diary 97
The Encantadas 105
Nightwatch 111
Crusoe's Island 123
Journal 1866 127
Flowery Tuscany 137
The Marginal World 151
Birds
Into the Amazon 159
Birds of Siberia 181
The Wild Geese of Wyndygoul 189
The Crows 195
Why Birds Sing 203
Bird Lists 213
Bird Watching 217
The Temples of the Hills 229
King Penguins 241
Beasts
The Cat 249
Real Life of the Beaver 255
The Bonte-Quagga 263
The Narwhal 271
Monkeys 293
Insects and Fish
Three Strokes of a Dagger 301
The Secret of the Formicary 307
Butterflies 313
12,000,000 Cod 329
Common Fish of an Indian Garden 337
Stars of the Earth 343
Sources
Author Biographies
Index
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