The pivotal figure in "Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa" is the nineteenth-century diplomat and writer George Perkins Marsh, generally regarded as America's first environmentalist. Like Elder, Marsh was a Vermonter, and his diplomatic career took him for some years to Italy, where, witnessing the ecological devastation wrought upon the landscape by runaway deforestation and the plundering of other natural resources, he was moved to produce his famous manifesto, "Man and Nature". Marsh drew parallels between the despoiled Italian environment and his home landscape of Vermont, warning that the latter was vulnerable to ecological woes of a similar magnitude if not carefully maintained and protected. In short, his was a prescient voice for stewardship.Elder follows in Marsh's footsteps along a trajectory running from Vermont to Italy, and at length fetches up at the managed forest of Vallombrosa.
Punctuated throughout with learned and genial considerations of the poetry of Wordsworth, Basho, Dante, and Frost, Elder's narrative takes up issues of sustainability as practiced locally, reports on family doings, and returns finally - as did Marsh's - to Vermont, where he measures traditional stewardship values against more aggressive conservation-oriented measures such as the expansion of wilderness areas.
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(229mm x 140mm x 18mm)
University of Virginia Press
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
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Author Biography - John Elder
John Elder, Professor of English and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, is the author of Reading the Mountains of Home and The Frog Run.