By John A. Murray
"The spell of Alaska," Ella Higginson wrote in 1908, "falls upon each lover of good looks who has voyaged alongside these some distance northern snow-pearled shores...or who has drifted down the effective rivers of the internal which movement, bell-toned and lonely, to the sea....No author has ever defined Alaska; nobody author ever will; yet every one needs to do his proportion, in response to the spell that the rustic casts upon him." In A Republic of Rivers, John Murray deals the 1st entire anthology of nature writing in Alaska and the Yukon, starting from 1741 to the current. a number of the writers came upon listed here are significant figures--John Muir, Jack London, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, and Edward Abbey--but we additionally become aware of the voices of missionaries, explorers, mountain-climbers, local american citizens, miners, scientists, backpackers, and fishermen, every one attempting to seize anything of the wonderful thing about this nonetheless pristine land, to render of their personal phrases the spell that the rustic casts upon them. the diversity of viewpoints is striking. With Annie Dillard we glance out at ice floes close to the distant Barter Island and spot "what child infants needs to see: not anything yet mindless diversifications of sunshine at the retinas." With Frederick Litke we mourn the mindless slaughter of sea mammals. We sign up for scientist Adolph Murie, the daddy of wolf ecology, as he probes the lifestyle of an East Fork wolf pack. And we pay attention as Tlingit Indian Johnny Jack relates the trouble of holding a dignified lifestyles as regards to nature at a time of cultural upheaval for his humans. almost all these decisions have by no means seemed in any anthology and a few entries--particularly these written via early American and Russian explorers--have by no means been on hand to common readers. there's laughter right here and there's sorrow, yet eventually there's communion and liberation as iteration after new release come upon the unsurpassed good looks and wildness of the Arctic. Taken jointly, those forty-nine women and men supply a distinct portrait of America's ultimate frontier.
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Extra info for A Republic of Rivers: Three Centuries of Nature Writing from Alaska and the Yukon
Readers familiar with the "land-as-woman" thesis of ecofeminists Annette Kolodny, Carolyn Merchant, Elizabeth Gray and others, which equates the oppression of nature with the oppression of women, will find a pattern here common elsewhere in American literature, as male writers describe a pristine landscape—often referred to or symbolized in feminine terms—as it is violated in the name of progress. "34 Later he provides an unusually graphic anatomical description of a dead female sea cow and notes that, "a male two days in a row came to its dead female on the shore and inquired about its condition .
Both are furnished with many crooked furrows and raised ridges with which it crunches seaweed as its customary food. The lips are furnished with many strong bristles, of which those on the lower jaw are so thick that they resemble the feather quills of chickens and clearly show by their interior hollowness the actual nature of hairs generally, which are likewise hollow. The eyes of this animal, without eyelids, are no larger than sheep's eyes. The ears are so small and concealed that they can hardly be found and recognized among the many grooves and wrinkles of the hide until and before the hide is cut off, when the ear ducts because of its polished THE SEA COW 29 blackness catches one's eye; yet it is hardly spacious enough to accommodate a pea.
Louis Lafuma (Paris: Editions Montaigne, 1955), 54. This page intentionally left blank PART I R 1741-1866 USSIAN AMERICA AND THE AGE OF EXPLORATION My islands, you are my islands. The sky over them in the morning today is joyous. Just so is the morning of today. If I shall live henceforth, let them be just so in memory. Lines from an Aleut song, as recorded by Ivan Veniaminov in Notes on (he IsJands of the UnaJashka District . . how glad we all were when we finally caught sight of land [Alaska].
A Republic of Rivers: Three Centuries of Nature Writing from Alaska and the Yukon by John A. Murray