Continuous Harmony

Continuous Harmony

4.3 (160 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 182 pages
  • 116.8 x 185.4 x 22.9mm | 204.12g
  • New York, United Kingdom
  • 0151225648
  • 9780151225644

Review Text

This collection of Berry's essays is a skillful distillation of the trendy and the traditional, the anti-establishmentarian and the conservative, all underpinned by agrarian ideology. Part of it, the essay "Think Little," appeared in the Last Whole Earth Catalogue; and most of it will be congenial to those who equate ecological progress with back-to-the-landism, and believe that the alternative to reckless drainage of resources is "obedience" to and "submergence" in nature. In this spirit Berry praises writings which, like Gary Snyder's, "venture farthest from the human assumptions." Berry's own observations on nature are duller and less sensitive than, say, a Gladys Taber's, except when he sneaks in some "human" connotations. What he proposes is a return to the small family farm, dignified craftsmanship, and dedicated work - explicitly hearkening back to the Southern Agrarians of the '30's. Berry is a self-confident pragmatist ("If it doesn't fit [my life] it's not true"), and his ideology - a refusal to "impose on things as they are" - is rich enough to suggest the extended references he fails to make. With a Jeffersonian gloss, he voices the themes of reactionary romanticism and the traditional right - the glorification of "primitive hunters and farmers," the anti-intellectualism and anti-militarism of a peasant, the landed gentry's disdain of "greed" and "the profit motive," the Proudhon-William Morris mythos of artisans and storekeepers, the small-town resistance to "politics" and "public causes," as opposed to decent individualism. Berry's call to throw out your electric toothbrush and reunite with the elements is all very well if you can become a literary gentleman farmer. In this mythic form, the vision will appeal to antagonists of industrial civilization whose flaws Berry eloquently anatomizes in his essay on strip-mining - but whose advantages have made him, and us, potentially civilized creatures instead of the dusk-to-dawn toilers he romanticizes here. Among utopians, a sure winner. The rest of us might read this with a critical sympathy for what cannot be nor ever was. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Rating details

160 ratings
4.3 out of 5 stars
5 48% (76)
4 38% (61)
3 12% (20)
2 1% (2)
1 1% (1)
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