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The World-Ending Fire

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Original Language: English (US) | 368 pp. | May 2018

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, French, and Nordic Rights

Rights sold: UK (Penguin/Allen Lane), Spain (Errata Naturae)

ESSAY

“The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry is a selection of 31 essays spanning five decades of his works, and it could not have come at a better time as our nation thrashes about in search of a voice of reason. Who better than Berry to explain to us ‘who we are, where we are, and what we must do to live’? . . . [It] ought to be required reading in every classroom . . . Wendell Berry is our National Guardian Angel!” —The Christian Science Monitor

“America’s greatest philosopher on sustainable life and living.” —Chicago Tribune

“Whether you’re new to the words of Wendell Berry or a longtime fan of this Kentucky poet, farmer, and land-protector, you’ll want to add this tome of unforgettable, earth-moving Southern outdoors writing to the shelf.” —Garden & Gun

“Berry reminds us that to take small solutions off the table is also a kind of giving up. Some conservationists believe that because ecological problems are structural, there is no point in growing and cooking your own food, in setting down roots in a community, in being kind to your neighbors. . . . you may as well drive as much as you want, waste paper towels, and buy meat from corporations that keep pigs in excrement-coated cages. Berry reminds us that to live this way is to forfeit our souls. It is important—no matter what is going on at a macro level—to be kind to your family, your neighbors and the land.” —The New Republic

“Wendell Berry’s admirers—a loyal band several generations deep—may blink at the subtitle of this selection of his essays. ‘Essential? What’s not essential?’ To read or reread these pieces is, however, to warmly affirm editor Kingsnorth. Berry is the philosopher and the prophet of agriculture, community, stability, and friendship, and there is nothing sentimental or utopian anywhere in his advocacy of those things.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A pleasing selection of essays from the lifelong farmer and award-winning writer. . . . A great place to start for those who are not familiar with Berry’s work; for those who are, it will be a nostalgic stroll down a rural, wooded Memory Lane. In this day and age, his writings are must-reads.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Berry’s graceful essays have long been models of eloquence, insight, and conviction . . . Newcomers will find the works exceptionally timely, and the book as a whole a thoughtful introduction to Berry’s writing.” —Publishers Weekly

“Compelling, luminous . . . our modern-day Thoreau. He is unlike anybody else writing today. He writes at least as well as George Orwell and has an urgent message for modern industrial capitalism . . . nobody can risk ignoring him.” —Andrew Marr, New Statesman

“Wendell Berry is the poet laureate of America’s farmland. . . . his writing has plenty of relevance: his scathing views on the chasm between what we need and what we consume are persuasive, as is his observation that change is often mistaken for progress.” —The Guardian

“[T]he welcome voice of a gentle radical . . . Wendell Berry’s writings, for half a century, have examined the gulf between what we’re capable of doing and what we ought to do. That gulf keeps getting bigger, and still the message goes unheeded.” —The Times Literary Supplement

“A fascinating tribute to the life of the land . . . Berry’s writings are timelier than ever.” —Laura Garmeson, Financial Times

“Berry overturns plenty of thoughtful topsoil on environmental issues with a precise pen, and clears any thicket of cosy consensus with a clear eye and cutting hand.” —Irish Times

In a time when our relationship to the natural world is ruled by the violence and greed of unbridled consumerism, Wendell Berry speaks out in these prescient essays, drawn from his 50-year campaign on behalf of American lands and communities.

Wendell Berry began his life in post-war America as the old times and the last of the old-time people were dying out, and continues to this day in the old ways: a team of work horses and a pencil are his preferred working tools. The writings gathered in The World-Ending Fire are the unique product of a life spent farming the fields of rural Kentucky with mules and horses, and of the rich, intimate knowledge of the land cultivated by this work. These are essays written in defiance of the false call to progress and in defense of local landscapes, essays that celebrate our cultural heritage, our history, and our home.

With grace and conviction, he shows that we simply cannot afford to succumb to the mass-produced madness that drives our global economy—the natural world will not survive it.

Yet he also shares with us a vision of consolation and of hope. We may be locked in an uneven struggle, but we can and must begin to treat our land, our neighbours, and ourselves with respect and care. As Berry urges, we must abandon arrogance and stand in awe.

Wendell Berry, an essayist, novelist, and poet, has been honored with the T.S. Eliot Award, the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, the John Hay Award of the Orion Society, and the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, among others. In 2010, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by Barack Obama, and in 2016, he was the recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle. He is also a fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences. Wendell lives with his wife, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Henry County, Kentucky.