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Imagination in Place Paperback – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582437068
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582437064
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Berry, an outspoken cultural critic, agrarian and prolific author (with more than 50 books), writes that imagination "brings what we want and what we have ever closer to being the same. It is the power that can save us from the prevailing insinuation that our place, our house, our spouse, and our automobile are not good enough." In these 15 essays, culled from the past two decades, Berry consistently backs up this bold statement while discussing everything from the Civil War to Shakespeare to religion. Each piece illustrates Berry's assertion that there is an unbreakable connection between a literary work and the place in which it is conceived; to that end, he examines the influence of place on his own creation, the fictional Kentucky town of Port William, as well as the integral role of the natural world in Shakespeare's As You Like It and King Lear. Some of the selections feel redundant-the point is made time and again that we must cultivate our imaginations in order to exist harmoniously with our surroundings-but this thought-provoking volume does reinforce Berry's relevance as one of America's preeminent thinkers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The essays of Berry’s new collection are of two kinds. Most are short appreciations of other writers who have taught him, formally (Wallace Stegner) as well as in the way all writers teach those who respond to them, as exemplary observers of humanity and truth. These small pieces’ subjects include, besides novelist Stegner, poets John Haines, Hayden Carruth, and Jane Kenyon; fellow Kentuckians James Still, Gurney Norman, and James Baker Hall (the last a fine photographer, to boot)—all personal acquaintances and friends of Berry’s—California’s Buddhist-ecologist bard, Gary Snyder; and the great English poet and scholar of Blake and Yeats, Kathleen Raine, whom he knows primarily from their work. The longer pieces weigh in with congenial gravity on how it has been to live and work in the same place for 40-some years; the effects of the Civil War on literature and public consciousness, especially in his own region, the upper South; self-knowledge and adversity in As You Like It and King Lear; and a typical scientist’s rant against theism. The Shakespearean piece, rebutting currently fashionable “dark” interpretations, particularly of Lear, is very probably destined to be a classic essay, while the concluding defense of belief and science rather obviates one side of the religion-science controversy while demolishing the other. --Ray Olson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gregory L. Glover on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The reason I gave less than five stars is that I prefer Wendell Berry's original contributions of poetry and stories to his literary criticism.

That having been said, this is a great example of literary criticism at its best. This is a coherent collection of essays, mostly of literary criticism but also--because it is Wendell Berry--of cultural criticism. Those who have read my previous reviews of collected works, especially those books that are collections of previously published essays, will know that this is high praise indeed. The coherency apparent in this book is not one of shared subject matter (the subjects covered are quite diverse, from the Civil War to Fundamentalism to Shakespeare, to name but a few); and it is not an artificially imposed coherency papered over the surface of what is (if truth be known) actually disparate material. Rather, the coherency arises subtly but unmistakeably from the durable passions and consistent attentions of the author, passions and attentions that have been sustained over a lifetime of work and throughout a variety of relationships--personal, literary and agricultural. Moreover, you are not likely to have encountered many of these essays before--however devoted you are to reading Berry--unless you are a subscriber to The Sewanee Review or are a "professional" literature teacher, because of the places where the essays previously appeared (e.g., multi-author works, literary journals like American Poet, or news outlets like The San Jose Mercury News).

Let us start with Berry's definition of imagination and why it must be "Imagination in Place" (title essay, 2004). According to Berry, imagination is the attempt to make whole what is experienced only in part.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mrsginther on January 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It only took a little time for the package to arrive. The book packaged up well and my daughter was happy to get her book for Christmas.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kramer on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In reading this book, Wendell Berry led me to poets I hadn't yet discovered that I now have put on my to read list - Jane Kenyon and Hayden Carruth. A recommendation from Wendell Berry is high praise indeed. I was fascinated by Berry's essays in the first part of the book about authentic writing set in a real place and dear friends with whom he has shared the journey of balancing real work and writing. I have to admit however, that I lost interest in the two last essays, thus the rare Wendell Berry low rating from me.

One of my favorite essays was "My Conversation With Gurney Norman".

"The axis of our conversation has been this river(The Kentucky River). Its headwaters gave Gurney his formative experience and have kept his allegiance and attracted his thoughts all his life. My own life was formed and has been lived mostly down here near the mouth. We have spoken to each other from opposite ends of this gathering of water. I speaking upstream to Gurney, he downstream to me. We have driven the roads and walked the paths, telling each other our stories, sending up our laughter like a ceremonial smoke. Some stories we have told again and again, trying to tell them right and to have them rightly understood. The effect has been stereoscopic.

What has this conversation been worth? Well, try imagining an upstream or a downstream writer traveling alone, talking to himself."
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