The Tree

( 32 )

Overview

In this series of moving recollections involving both his childhood and his work as a mature artist, John Fowles explains the impact of nature on his life and the dangers inherent in our traditional urge to categorize, to tame and ultimately to possess the landscape. This acquisitive drive leads to alienation and an antagonism to the apparent disorder and randomness of the natural world. For John Fowles the tree is the best analogue of prose fiction, symbolizing the wild side or our psyche, and he stresses the ...
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The Tree

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Overview

In this series of moving recollections involving both his childhood and his work as a mature artist, John Fowles explains the impact of nature on his life and the dangers inherent in our traditional urge to categorize, to tame and ultimately to possess the landscape. This acquisitive drive leads to alienation and an antagonism to the apparent disorder and randomness of the natural world. For John Fowles the tree is the best analogue of prose fiction, symbolizing the wild side or our psyche, and he stresses the importance in art of the unpredictable, the unaccountable and the intuitive.
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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: 487,881
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Fowles won international recognition with his first published novel, The Collector (1963). His subsequent works include The Magus (1966); The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969); Daniel Martin (1977); and others.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 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 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    Spurrpelt

    I will take a kit. You may choose which. She purrs. Just let me know

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    MountainPeak

    Yawns.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    Rainstorm

    Need med cat to help with kitting at running river res 3!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2014

    Bravekit

    Says goodbye to this clan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    The cat

    Sorry typo. They gave my 20 lives and i have 18 remaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Frostpetal

    She laid her tail tip on Swampstar's shoulder. "Are you....okay?"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    WARNING

    You may be attacked. Be prepared. <p>
    -NK & L

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    WARNING

    NK & L are very decieving.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    Cland

    The pale gray she-cat padded to the med den. She tasted the air. She could smell the scent of herbs hanging in the den.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Jadepool

    The medicine cat smiled kindly at Cottonkit,"What would really help, is a piece of prey for Nebulablossom," she turned to Nebulablossom,"You're welcome," ~Jade

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    TO WHIERWIND

    YOU ARE AN ARROGANT A?SS YOU B?TCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    To embertail

    Beware: ethereal cats may come and capture you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    Embertail

    Why would they do that?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    Gingerbrook and Co.

    Gingerbrook-Nebulastar~Can I be the temporary med cat?
    Bambookit~She sneaks up on a cat and pounces on their tail.
    Hibiscusflight~Sits alone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    Featherkit

    *Raises her nose.* Oh... *She bounds to the med cat den.*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    Riverfall and co.

    The grey-blue she-cat walked in with a golden she-cat and a blind tortiseshell she-cat following her. "May we join?" The grey- blue she cat asked

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    UltraViolence ¿ AshenFall

    UltraViolence swallowed hard, quietly and slowly padding up to Currentflow. "H-how are y-you?" He stuttered, embarrassed by his speech, which usually happened when he was talking to someone he didnt really know. <p> AshenFall's tail swished, watching her friend silently. She got to her white tipped paws and stretched luxoriously, leaping onto a stump for looking at camp through a different perspective.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    COMEDY NIGHT AT MANDYS

    Mandy res 1!!! Be prepared for a laugh!!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews

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