Nature writing

Nature writing is nonfiction or fiction prose or poetry about the natural environment. Nature writing encompasses a wide variety of works, ranging from those that place primary emphasis on natural history facts (such as field guides) to those in which philosophical interpretation predominate. It includes natural history essays, poetry, essays of solitude or escape, as well as travel and adventure writing.

Nature writing often draws heavily on scientific information and facts about the natural world; at the same time, it is frequently written in the first person and incorporates personal observations of and philosophical reflections upon nature.

Nature writing is primarily an Anglo-American literary tradition: it originated in the writings of English nature explorers in the 18th century and reached a peak in the 19th century with American writers such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Burroughs and John Muir. In “A Taxonomy of Nature Writing” Thomas J. Lyon proposes a taxonomyof the different types of nature writing in the US. He does this on the basis of three dimensions: information about nature, personal responses to nature and its philosophical interpretation. The relative weight of and the interaction between those dimensions then determine which of the seven categories that Lyon identified a text belongs to. The categories are (1) field guides, (2) essays on natural history, (3) “rambles”, (4) loneliness and wilderness life, (5) travel and adventure, (6) peasant life and (7) the role of man in nature. Studying nature writing is one of the original activities of ecocriticism.

Modern nature writing traces its roots to the works of natural history that were popular in the second half of the 18th century and throughout the 19th. An important early figures was the “parson-naturalist” Gilbert White (1720 – 1793), a pioneering English naturalist and ornithologist. He is best known for his Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789).

William Bartram (1739 – 1823) is a significant early American pioneer naturalist who first work was published in 1791.

Nature writing is traditionally defined as non-fiction literature surrounding the natural environment. However, it is believed that nature writing English began to be used in earnest in the United States in the early 20th century. In general, the term nature writing was used after the 20th century, but the term natural history was used before the 19th century.

As an element that characterizes nature writing, it depends on facts, nature, and scientific information about the natural world, but unlike objective natural observation of the natural science system, it includes personal thoughts and philosophical thinking about the natural environment Can be mentioned.

According to Thomas Ryan’s “This Unparalleled Land-A Short History of American Nature Writing” (translated by Toshimura), nature writing is a literary genre with the following three aspects.

Natural history information
Author’s response to nature (personal reaction)
Philosophical interpretation
Ryan’s nature writing sub-categories include outdoor guides and specialized papers, natural history essays, nature haruka (walking, walking), lonely and remote life-related essays, and travel. And adventure essays, farm life essays, and human role in nature.

Refer to the table below for the representative authors and works listed by Ryan and their classifications.

Nature Writing Spectrum
Quoted from Thomas Ryan’s “This Unparalleled Land: A Short History of American Nature Writing”
Outdoor guides and specialized papers Natural history essay Haruka Essay on life in loneliness and remote areas Travel and adventure essay Essay about farm life Human role in nature
Clarence King”Systematic Geology” (1878) John Muir “Studies in the Sierra Mountains” (1874-75) John D. Godman “A Certain Naturalist Haruka” (1828) Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854) William Bertram,Travelogue (1791) Hector St. John de Clevcourt, American Farmer’s Letter (1782) John Burroughs,“Accepting the Universe” (1920)
Owls Muley, Outdoor Guide to Animal Footprints (1954) Rachel Carson, TheSea Around Us (1950) John Burroughs,Enraiso (1871) Henry Beston , Living by the Seaside in Cape Cod (1928) Henry David Thoreau, Main Forest (1864) Liberty Hyde Bailey , A Year Harvest for Farmers (1972) Joseph Wood Cruch, The Chain ofWonderful Life (1956)
Roger Tory Peterson,Outdoor Guide to Western Birds (1961) Anne Zwinger ,Beatrice Willard , Beyond Forest Limits (1972) John K. Teres “From Laurel Hill to Schiller’s Swamp” (1969) Sigard F. Allson“Cape Listening” (1958) Charles Sheldon , Wild Upstream Yukon (1911) Wendell Berry,Continuing Harmony (1972) John Hay , Protecting Nature (1969)
John Hay, Surviving Spirit (1974) Annie Dillard , On the Bank of Tinker Creek (1974) Edward Abbey , The Paradise of Sand (1968) Edward Hawkland,A Note from a Century Old (1969)
Barry Lopez, Far North Dream (1986)

The origin of modern nature writing seems to be in the history of natural history that was popular in Europe and America from the late 18th century to the 19th century. Natural history is (Natural History) representative writer of, in the United Kingdom ” natural history of Selborne ” author of (1789 first edition) Gilbert White and ” On the Origin of Species of” (1859 first edition), Charles Darwin and the United States, Then William Bertram and John James Audubon.

Nature writing was established as a genre at the end of the 18th century, when the romantic movement in philosophy and literature influenced the way people think about the relationship between nature and human beings and the way people view nature. It is said. Nature writing and romanticism often tend to be confused because of their close ages. The values shared by the two are

The perspective that the world and human beings are considered to be homogeneous,
Skepticism of rationalism, materialism, or denial,
An attitude that considers nature as the source of life,
For example, there is a tendency to be simple and primitive (Ryan, 2000).
On the other hand, the difference is that nature writing relies heavily on scientific theories, observations and analysis of nature, whereas romanticism tends to focus on making myth myth.

Henry David Thoreau is often referred to as the father of American nature writing. Other typical nature writers include Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey (although Abbey himself refuses).

Gilbert White is regarded by many as England’s first ecologist, and one of those who shaped the modern attitude of respect for nature. He said of the earthworm: “Earthworms, though in appearance a small and despicable link in the chain of nature, yet, if lost, would make a lamentable chasm. worms seem to be the great promoters of vegetation, which would proceed but lamely without them” White and William Markwick collected records of the dates of emergence of more than 400 plant and animal species in Hampshire and Sussex between 1768 and 1793, which was summarised in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, as the earliest and latest dates for each event over the 25-year period, are among the earliest examples of modern phenology.

The tradition of clerical naturalists predates White and can be traced back to some monastic writings of the Middle Ages, although some argue that their writings about animals and plants cannot be correctly classified as natural history. Notable early parson-naturalists were William Turner (1508–1568), John Ray (1627–1705), William Derham (1657–1735).

William Bertram, in 1773, embarked on a four-year journey through eight southern American colonies. Bartram made many drawings and took notes on the native flora and fauna, and the native American Indians. In 1774, he explored the St. Johns River. William Bartram wrote of his experiences exploring the Southeast in his book known today as Bartram’s Travels, published in 1791. Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis, in their book, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, name Bartram as “the first naturalist who penetrated the dense tropical forests of Florida.”

After Gilbert White and William Bertram, other significant writers include American ornithologist John James Audubon (1785 – 1851), Charles Darwin((1809 – 1882), Richard Jefferies (1848 – 1887), Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813 – 1894), mother of American nature writing, and Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862), who is often considered the father of modern American nature writing, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) John Burroughs, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, M. Krishnan, and Edward Abbey (although he rejected the term for himself).

Another important early work is A History of British Birds by Thomas Bewick, published in two volumes. Volume 1, “Land Birds”, appeared in 1797. Volume 2, “Water Birds”, appeared in 1804. The book was effectively the first “field guide” for non-specialists. Bewick provides an accurate illustration of each species, from life if possible, or from skins. The common and scientific name(s) are listed, citing the naming authorities. The bird is described, with its distribution and behaviour, often with extensive quotations from printed sources or correspondents. Critics note Bewick’s skill as a naturalist as well as an engraver.

Other important authors of the Nature Writing are:

August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof (1705-1759)
Carl von Linné (1707-1778)
Jacob Christian Schäffer (1718-1790)
Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1727-1775)
Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868)
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894)

Contemporary Europe
Some important contemporary figures in Britain include Richard Mabey, Roger Deakin, Mark Cocker, and Oliver Rackham. Rackham’s books included Ancient Woodland (1980) and The History of the Countryside (1986). Richard Maybey has been involved with radio and television programmes on nature, and his book Nature Cure, describes his experiences and recovery from depression in the context of man’s relationship with landscape and nature. He has also edited and introduced editions of Richard Jefferies, Gilbert White, Flora Thompson and Peter Matthiessen. Mark Crocker has written extensively for British newspapers and magazines and his books include Birds Britannica (with Richard Mabey) (2005). and Crow Country (2007). He frequently writes about modern responses to the wild, whether found in landscape, human societies or in other species. Roger Deakin was an English writer, documentary-maker and environmentalist. In 1999, Deakin’s acclaimed book Waterlog was published. Inspired in part by the short story The Swimmer by John Cheever, it describes his experiences of ‘wild swimming’ in Britain’s rivers and lakes and advocates open access to the countryside and waterways. Deakin’s book Wildwood appeared posthumously in 2007. It describes a series of journeys across the globe that Deakin made to meet people whose lives are intimately connected to trees and wood.

The Gallmeister editions, founded in 2005, have made this genre known in France, making it an editorial specialty. But there are books related to the genre for years at various publishers.

For the French Review of American Studies, it is first of all “to write nature”. The founder of the genre is the philosopher Henry David Thoreau, also considered the father of political ecology.

Although the category is American, we can attach other writers like the Polish Mariusz Wilk, with The House on the edge of Oniégo (Editions Black on White, 2007), or the Swiss Blaise Hofmann with Estive (Zoé, 2007).

Americans consider this literary genre as non-fiction but in France works, romantic or not, are mixed: Prairie, James Galvin’s fiction published by Albin Michel 2004, and The Bisons of the Broken Heart (Au devil vauvert, 2007), a story by Dan O’Brien, are perfect examples. For the latter, novelist, falconer and bison farmer, “The future of the world is in the wild beauty”.

Can be likened to gardening, travel narrative and literature of the great outdoors (Legends of the Fall of Jim Harrison), these also accommodates the thriller (like the series of William G. Tapply) or historical novel (Dance with the wolves of Michael Blake).

The genre nature writing has enough specific characters to be considered in the French-speaking world as a literary genre in its own right, cf. Lawrence Buell’s highly influential study, The Environmental Imagination. Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. Thus, for him, the four key elements, which would constitute the “environmental text” and that would be gathered in some classics of the genre and in particular in Walden or Life in the woods, are, essentially, the following:

the non-human environment is evoked as a full-fledged actor and not only as a framework for human experience;
environmental concerns legitimately rank alongside human concerns;
environmental responsibility is part of the ethical orientation of the text;
the text suggests the idea of nature as a process and not only as a fixed frame of human activity.

Newer Developments
In the course of growing environmental awareness, there seems to be a return to historical approaches and writings. This also manifests itself clearly in the sales figures and bestseller lists. In German-speaking countries, the following are especially important:
Jürgen von der Wense (1894-1966)
Wilhelm Lehmann (1882-1968)

from the time of the youth movement around the First World War, and contemporary
Brigitte Kronauer (* 1940)
Peter Wohlleben (* 1964)
Judith Schalansky (* 1980)

In English are particularly popular:
Richard Mabey
Mary Oliver (1935-2019)
Roger Deakin
Mark Cocker
Oliver Rackham
Annie Dillard (* 1945)

In 2017 the German book publishing company Matthes & Seitz Berlin started to grant the German Award for Nature Writing, an annual literary award for writers in German language that excellently fulfil the criteria of the literary genre. It comes with a price money of 10.000 Euro and additionally an artist in residency grant of six weeks at the International Academy for Nature Conservation of Germany on the German island Vilm. The British Council in 2018 is offering an education bursary and workshops to six young German authors dedicated to Nature writing.

Writers by Nature: British Council Scholarship
In 2018, the British Council offered 6 aspiring young authors a scholarship and workshops to share in nature writing.