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The Tree Paperback – Deckle Edge, September 28, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061997773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061997778
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The Tree is part memoir, part explanation and part warning, one of the most beautiful, succinct and prescient pieces of writing we have.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

“[B]elongs alongside the finest wilderness-rambling narratives.” (The New Yorker "Book Bench")

“A revelation.” (The Paris Review "Daily")

“A gentle plea for wilderness [and] an argument for art and the imagination.” (Chicago Tribune, Editor's Choice)

“[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.” (The Stranger)

“[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.” (Women's Voices for Change)

“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.” (Lewis Hyde, author of THE GIFT)

“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.” (Lydia Millet, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist LOVE IN INFANT MONKEYS)

“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.” (Brad Kessler, author of GOAT SONG)

“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.” (Atlantic Monthly)

“The most original argument for wilderness preservation I have encountered.” (Washington Post)

“[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.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“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. (New York Times, Paper Cuts)

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.” (Financial Times)

From the Inside Flap

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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I wanted to see if the author felt the same.
KarenO
When I received this fantastic book I was absolutely blown away by the life-changing words.
A Very Merry Shakespeare
A most extraordinary, a beautiful and moving book.
John Friedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
John Folwles is widely known as a novelist, but many revere his work `The Tree". There is an introduction by Barry Lopez who says he had to get up and walk away from the book several times because its thought was so stimulating. For a lot of people this is a wonderful meditation. But for many others the thoughts will be esoteric and much too philosophical.

Fowles does tell of the differences between him and his father, especially in the fact that his father tightly pruned and forced his fruit trees to his will, while Fowles is content to let everything revert to a natural state. The thoughts are rambling and the style is not easy.

An example of his style is: "Nowhere are the two great contemporary modes of reproducing reality, the word and the camera, more at a loss; less able to capture the sound (or soundlessness) and the scents, the temperatures and moods, the all-roundness, the different levels of being in the vertical ascent from ground to tree-top, in the range of different forms of life and the subtlety of their inter-relationships." For many , most of the reading will require a double read to understand. The thoughts are all superior and interesting just not the easiest to comprehend at a quick glance.
This book is indeed for the philosophers among us.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Very Merry Shakespeare on September 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
When I received this fantastic book I was absolutely blown away by the life-changing words. This is the thirtieth anniversary of this wonderful nonfiction look at how the natural, "wild" world affects our human lives. Mr. Fowles passed away in 2006, but his legacy of classic stories including The Gift and, my favorite, The French Lieutenant's Woman, will remain part of our culture for the rest of time. But this small yet, intricate, look at how this fantastic author "saw" life, and the relationships that made up his own existence, should truly be a permanent fixture on every human's bookshelf.

Talk about taking me home to my upbringing in the "hills" of Connecticut; this author first speaks about the trees. Throughout history, trees have provided many different things to different people; they've been the sanctuary for some, as well as the hiding place for the "justly and unjustly persecuted and hunted." This is a powerful statement. Whether living in a city or wild country, if the trees could speak, we can only imagine what stories they could tell.

Mr. Fowles grew up in London - the huge city where activity was a constant. His father was a man who had a small garden in the back of their flat, and worked very hard at keeping his bushes, flowers, and trees alive. Here was the place where John's father would go and be one with nature. John, unlike his father, wanted the "openness" of the countryside. He wanted to go on "woodland walks" where a path would lead him into the unknown. He even goes into a garden in the old Swedish university town of Uppsala, where a beautiful garden resides that is equaled only by the one spoken of in the Book of Genesis. But the one "chord" that kept driving home with me was his father.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amy Henry TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
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?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KarenO on February 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I hope my rating doesn't discourage others from reading this book, because it's personal. I am fascinated by trees and nature, but I suppose I'm not really interested in analyzing my fascination. I just love being in the woods, and feel the most centered and at home while there. I wanted to see if the author felt the same. I see that he does but I'm not interested in comparisons in philosophy about it. People that are will love this book.
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