A Passion for Nature (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
One of the great figures in the nineteenth century American conservation movement, John Muir is most often identified with California, where he spent most of his adult life and where he came to be identified so closely with the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite Park that his formative years tend to be neglected. Now environmental historian Donald Worster has written A Passion for Nature, sure to become the definitive Muir biography, in which he chronicles Muir’s childhood and early years that helped to shape his deep passion for the natural world. The first Muir biography to meet modern standards of scholarship, this book makes use of Muir’s hitherto unavailable private correspondence. Worster describes how Muir’s love of the outdoors grew out of a rebellion against his strict, fundamentalist upbringing, his early interest in botany, the natural beauty of the Wisconsin frontier, and his strong desire to explore exotic places, including Florida and California.
Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland, on April 21, 1838, the third of eight children of a zealous and restless Scotsman, a successful grain merchant who impulsively decided to immigrate to America in 1849 to enjoy greater freedom to practice his extremely fundamentalist Campbellite beliefs and try his hand at homesteading in the Midwest. As the oldest son, Muir suffered from his father’s heavy-handed patriarchal rule, with its strict work ethic, harsh physical punishments, and many...
(The entire section is 1802 words.)
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