The Tree

( 5 )

Overview

John Fowles (1926–2005) is widely regarded as one of the preeminent English novelists of the twentieth century—his books have sold millions of copies worldwide, been turned into beloved films, and been popularly voted among the 100 greatestnovels of the century.

To a smaller yet no less passionate audience, Fowles is also known for having written The Tree, one of his few works of nonfiction. First published a generation ago, it is a provocative meditation on the connection ...

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The Tree

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Overview

John Fowles (1926–2005) is widely regarded as one of the preeminent English novelists of the twentieth century—his books have sold millions of copies worldwide, been turned into beloved films, and been popularly voted among the 100 greatestnovels of the century.

To a smaller yet no less passionate audience, Fowles is also known for having written The Tree, one of his few works of nonfiction. First published a generation ago, it is a provocative meditation on the connection between the natural world and human creativity, and a powerful argument against taming the wild. In it, Fowles recounts his own childhood in England and describes how he rebelled against his Edwardian father’s obsession with the “quantifiable yield” of well-pruned fruit trees and came to prize instead the messy, purposeless beauty of nature left to its wildest.

The Tree is an inspiring, even life-changing book, like Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, one that reaffirms our connection to nature and reminds us of the pleasure of getting lost, the merits of having no plan, and the wisdom of following one’s nose wherever it may lead—in life as much as in art.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
“Beautiful. . . . A cross between Thoreau’s “Walden” and John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing,” with a dash of “The Gift,” Lewis Hyde’s cult-classic manifesto on creativity.
Washington Post
“The most original argument for wilderness preservation I have encountered.”
Atlantic Monthly
“Delightful... The real subject of this arboreal excursion is not trees at all, but the importance in art of the unpredictable, the unaccountable, the intuitive, the not discernibly useful.”
Christian Science Monitor
“[John Fowles] is a master of style, evident in the ease with which he transforms the abstract into the highly tangible, without sacrificing any of the subtleties.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
The Tree is part memoir, part explanation and part warning, one of the most beautiful, succinct and prescient pieces of writing we have.”
The New Yorker
"[B]elongs alongside the finest wilderness-rambling narratives."
The Paris Review
"A revelation."
The Stranger
“[A] great book. . . . [T]he perfect little thing to roll up in your pocket and take with you for a lunch in the park. It’s like having a laid-back, wide-ranging conversation with one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century.”
Women's Voices for Change
“[A] beautifully honed plea for us to “be” in the natural world, to seek human creativity through the wild. . . . Beyond the tree and beyond the woods, Fowles challenges us to embrace the unpredictable, the untamable, the unquantifiable.”
Financial Times
The Tree is a powerful, absorbing and beautifully written meditation on the connection between man and nature. . . . [A] magnificent and perfectly poised argument for a form of conservation that is even more pertinent now than when it was first published.”
Chicago Tribune
“A gentle plea for wilderness [and] an argument for art and the imagination.”
Lewis Hyde
“THE TREE is the fullest and finest exploration I’ve ever read of how the useless delights to be discovered in nature can ripen into the practice of art.”
Lydia Millet
“Please read this book. It says the most important thing, and with a lovely succinctness. Step off the narrow path, so cleverly engineered for you, into the deep cathedral of the woods-where there are no engineers and the true self abides.”
Brad Kessler
“THE TREE defies easy definition and even genre. Whatever else it happens to be-memoir, philosophy, natural history-the book is a kind of forest, and Fowles a masterful field guide. He shows us the hidden place where the woods and literature converge.”
The New Yorker "Book Bench"
“[B]elongs alongside the finest wilderness-rambling narratives.”
The Paris Review "Daily"
“A revelation.”
E. S. Turner
This is a very short book which delights as it piques and puzzles. And how very right that The Tree should be "made from wood from sustainable forests."
Times Literary Supplement
From the Publisher
"The most original argument for wilderness preservation I have encountered." - Washington Post

"A text of unusual beauty and perception." - Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061997778
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Edition number: 30
  • Pages: 91
  • Sales rank: 320,190
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, England, and won international recognition with his first novel, The Collector, in 1963. His many other bestselling novels include The Magus (1966), Daniel Martin (1977), and The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969), which was turned into an acclaimed film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. John Fowles died in 2005.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Do we interact with nature, at all?

    This is the 30th anniversary edition of John Fowles legendary essay about trees. Or rather, what trees mean in a greater sense than just the biological. At first, I expected this to be similar to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring-both were written decades ago. However, this slim text is more of a set of questions rather than answers. In fact, despite the title, it could be said that trees are just the smallest portion of his purpose.



    "Do we feel that unless we create evidence-photographs, journal entries, picked and pressed flowers, tape recordings, pocketed stones-we haven't actually been intimate with nature?"



    Fowles was known for writing The French Lieutenant's Woman as well as other fiction titles. Here, in this book, he discusses via anecdotes the relationship between humans and nature, and the juxtaposition between nature on its own and our experience of nature. First, the introduction by Barry Lopez comfortably sets the scene, and hints that this is no simple environmental manifesto. And never does Fowles lecture about how people should view nature; rather, he talks about what nature may or may not mean in a larger sense.


    For example, he talks about his childhood home where his father cultivated small garden and fruit trees. Nothing was out of place, and while it was in the city, his father managed to tame anything unruly from the garden. Clearly it was his goal to conquer the plot of land. He was the victor over it. Yet his son, Fowles, purchases property that is larger, but by no means tame. Fowles neither cultivates or cuts back, he sees no point in amending the soil, pruning the trees, and to the horror of his father, the parcel of land is wild. Is it a moral battle over who conquers the natural world? Is it nature if you've directed its every movement? Fowles doesn't presume to answer, he just asks.



    In a further irony, which tells a great deal about his father, Fowles recalls how his father could walk for miles in the city, yet would only hike a few hundred meters in the countryside. The untame pastoral scene frightened him or inhibited him, likely because of its chaos. Thus, Fowles discusses chaos in nature, and how the most lovely of scenes is never the most natural. He also makes a valid point that our modern society, with three decades of hindsight added since this was written, has used film and photography to 'show' nature, making the interaction with it less urgent. How often do people seek it out? Is putting a pot of daisies on the patio nature or decor? Do we travel to faraway places to imbibe unique cocktails or are we willing to hike in a forest for no other purpose than to look? Again, he gives no condescending or judgmental answer, he just asks thought provoking questions.


    Since the last few years have produced epic and beautiful DVD collections for large screen televisions, like Planet Earth, does nature seem to be something we order up on the Netflix queue or purchase at Costco? It should be noted that this is not a nature 'journal', nor a guide to trees. There are no photos or etchings to illustrate it, and that's appropriate in that Fowles doesn't feel a photograph can replicate nature satisfactorily. I enjoyed this very much, and wish that Fowles would have spent a bit more time discussing his own experiences, as well as suggested ideas for conservation and preservation.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2014

    Get a free ipad

    Kiss ur hand three times post this at three different books and look under ur pillow

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    Bridgette and Dylan

    They sit.

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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