Reinventing Eden [electronic resource] : the fate of nature in Western culture /
Carolyn Merchant.
New York : Routledge, 2003.
xii, 308 p. : ill.
0415931649 (alk. paper)
More Details
added author
New York : Routledge, 2003.
0415931649 (alk. paper)
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-292) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Carolyn Merchant is Chancellor's Professor of Environmental History, Philosophy and Ethics at the University of California, Berkeley.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2003-03-17:
In her challenging book, environmental historian Merchant (The Death of Nature) attempts to put the current ecological crisis into perspective by examining historical thoughts regarding the loss of Eden and attempts to recover it. One idea is rooted in the scientific revolution of the 17th century: this optimistic scenario asserts that Eden can be regained by re-creating the garden through suburbs, malls and bioengineered food. A more recent idea, embraced by environmentalists, simply states that the earth is in a long decline from Eden in its pristine state. Some colonists thought the New World was already an Eden. Others saw it as a land that needed to be converted into an Eden so its natural resources could be harvested as profitable commodities. In the latter scenario, the fallen Adam redeems himself by becoming the heroic American Adam who transforms nature a female object, or Eve into a fruitful garden. Merchant points out the flaws in many of these Garden of Eden narratives: the first scenario, for example, leads to a totally artificial world and ignores the fact that we can't dominate nature because it is chaotic, complex and unpredictable. Merchant proposes a new narrative in which men, women and the earth work together, giving the needs of nature equal weight with the needs of humans. Unfortunately, her proposals for cooperation between corporations, communities, government agencies and environmental groups are not original. Coming after her penetrating treatment of the historical narratives, this part of the book is disappointing. Yet she covers a wealth of information and sheds light on the thinking of generations of scientists, philosophers and environmentalists. Illus. not seen by PW. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2004-03-01:
Leading environmental historian Merchant (history, Univ. of California, Berkeley) traces the origins of the Garden of Eden narrative to its Mesopotamic origins and then through its modern declension, reclamation, and reinvention in this capacious work. She argues that "the Recovery of Eden story is the mainstream narrative of Western culture," and the mythology that forms it is the most crucial information we have in understanding how humans developed an environmental awareness and relationship to their physical surroundings. Merchant casts the story against the backdrop of Western history, moving deftly through Roman history and medieval Europe, and then bringing it to the Americas, where it blossomed fully. Patriarchal Europeans, whose attitudes were forged in the crucible of domination of both humans and nature, transformed the land, commodified nature, and ultimately abused the New World garden. It was left to 19th- and 20th-century reformers, philosophers, and feminists to develop a "partnership ethic" to reclaim and recover Eden. This reclamation will ultimately allow humans to develop "new ways of producing, reproducing, and interpreting life on the planet." ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Graduate students and faculty. K. Edgerton Montana State University at Billings
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 2003
Choice, March 2004
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Main Description
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. A sweeping account of these quixotic endeavors by one of America's leading environmentalists,Reinventing Edentraces the idea of rebuilding the primeval garden from its origins to its latest incarnations in shopping malls, theme parks and gated communities. With eloquence and insight, Merchant shows how the drive to conquer nature and to explore and settle the globe, springs from this utopian pastoral impulse throughout Western history. Time and again, human manipulation of the environment is our downfall: Eden is achieved by fencing off pristine beauty in national parks and wildlife preserves, while leaving the majority of the earth in ruins. Challenging both narratives, Merchant argues that the green veneer ofcity-park conservation has become a cover for the corruption of the earth and the neglect of its environment.Reinventing Edenis a bold new way to think about the earth that includes green political parties, sustainable development and a partnership between humans and earth that is nothing short of an ecological revolution.
Back Cover Copy
Visionary quests to return to the Garden of Eden have shaped Western Culture. This book traces the idea of rebuilding the primeval garden from its origins to its latest incarnations and offers a bold new way to think about the earth.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This work shows how the drive to conquer nature, explore and settle the globe, springs from a utopian pastoral impulse throughout Western history. It traces the idea of rebuilding the primeval garden from its origins to its latest incarnations in shopping malls, theme parks and gated communities.
Table of Contents
Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
A Garden Planetp. 1
Genesis of the Recovery Narrative
The Fall from Edenp. 11
Recovering the Gardenp. 39
From Wilderness to Civilizationp. 65
New World Edens
Adam As Herop. 93
Eve As Naturep. 117
Colonizing Edenp. 145
Eden Commodifiedp. 167
New Stories
Earth in Recoveryp. 187
Order out of Chaosp. 205
Partnershipp. 223
Epiloguep. 245
Notesp. 247
Bibliographyp. 277
Indexp. 293
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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