In a really excellent piece in the Guardian, Robert Macfarlane argues that we must reconnect with our environment through classic works of wildlife literature.
The suggestion – which echoes a similar call made by Lopez exactly 20 years ago in America – is that a series of classic works of nature writing from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland should be established and published. Such a series would not kowtow to the doubtful idea of a “national” literature. Instead, it would be a series of local writings, which concentrated on particular places, and which worked always to individuate, never to generalise. It would not vaunt a little-islandism, nor would it be blind to the spoliation of the landscape which has occurred. It would not adore landscape as a site for the exercise of middle-class nature-sentiment – a gymnasium for the sensitive.
It would, however, honour a form of care, and a form of attention, to the landscapes of the British Isles. It would discover in landscapes values which transcend the commercial and the consumerist. And it would restore to visibility a tradition of nature writing which has slipped from view these past 50 years.