Peter Matthiessen American Literature Analysis
Matthiessen is considered one of America’s foremost environmental writers. Both his fiction and nonfiction devote themselves to considerations of the fragile planet humans share with other life-forms. Matthiessen’s subject is life on earth; he takes his materials wherever he finds them, no matter how remote the locale. His writing reflects his passion for travel, his interest in human nature—both innocent and destructive—and his commitment to calling others’ attention to the pressing problems associated with the environment. Yet, although Matthiessen characterizes himself as a romantic, he does not give into what could be a temptation to romanticize nature: He describes both the beauty and the brutality of the natural world.
Matthiessen is especially noted for his unflinching consideration of the damage that industrial imperialism is causing or is about to cause the world’s fragile ecosystem, in particular, damage to those underdeveloped or undeveloped portions of the globe most vulnerable to the devastating effects of such things as clear-cutting, pollution, and overpopulation. Thus, the journeys that Matthiessen shares with his readers are not simply travelogues for armchair tourists wishing to see exotic places; rather, his books first challenge his reader to think about what they see and, second, ask them to develop a shared concern for the continued well-being of a threatened environment, ecosystem, or ancient culture that he describes....
(The entire section is 4348 words.)
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