University Press of Kentucky
Wendell Berry by Jason Peters Summary
A portrait of an American thinker with contributions by Barbara Kingsolver, Bill McKibben, Sven Birkerts, Wes Jackson, and more: “A masterful collection.” —Charlotte Observer Essayist, social critic, poet, “mad farmer,” novelist, teacher, and prophet: Wendell Berry has been called many things, but the broad sweep of his contemporary relevance and influence defies facile labels. With a unique perspective and far-reaching vision, Berry poses complex questions about humankind and our relationship to the land and offers simple but profound solutions. Berry’s writings give voice to a provocative but consistent philosophy that extends far beyond its agrarian core to include elements of sociology, the natural sciences, politics, religion, philosophy, linguistics, agriculture, and other seemingly incompatible fields of study. Wendell Berry: Life and Work examines this wise, original thinker, appraising his written work and exploring his influence as an activist and artist. Each of the contributors—including Hayden Carruth, Sven Birkerts, Barbara Kingsolver, Stanley Hauerwas, Donald Hall, Ed McClanahan, Bill McKibben, Scott Russell Sanders, Norman Wirzba, Wes Jackson, and Eric T. Freyfogle—examines an aspect of Berry’s varied yet cohesive body of work. Also included are highly personal glimpses of Berry: his career, academic influence, and unconventional lifestyle. These deft sketches show the purity of Berry’s agrarian lifestyle and demonstrate that there is nothing simple about the life to which he’s devoted himself. He embraces a life that sustains him not by easy purchase and haste but by physical labor and patience, not by mindless acquiescence to a centralized economy but by attention to local ways and wisdom. This book combines biographical sketches, personal accounts, literary criticism, and social commentary. The result is a rich portrait of one of America’s most profound and honest thinkers.