The Fate of Nature in Western Culture
ROUTLEDGE CHAPMAN HALL
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Visionary quests to return to the Garden of Eden have shaped Western culture from Columbus' voyages to today's tropical island retreats. Few narratives are so powerful - and, as Carolyn Merchant shows, so misguided and destructive - as the dream of recapturing a lost paradise. An account of these quixotic endeavours by one of Amercia's leading environmentalists, Reinventing Eden traces the idea of rebuilding the primeval garden from its origins to its latest incarnations in shopping malls, theme parks and gated communities. Merchant shows how the drive to conquer nature, to explore and settle the globe, springs from this utopian pastoral impulse throughout Western history. She also illustrates the counter narrative that emerged when the conservation movement of the 19th century asserted that man's manipulation of the environment is our downfall: Eden is achieved by fencing off pristine beauty in national parks and wildlife preserves. Challenging both narratives, Merchant argues that the green veneer of city-park conservation has become a cover for the corruption of the earth and the neglect of its poor.
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