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The Height of Our Mountains : Nature Writing from Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley - Michael P. Branch

The Height of Our Mountains

Nature Writing from Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley

Paperback Published: 5th March 1998
ISBN: 9780801856914
Number Of Pages: 456
For Ages: 22+ years old

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This is an anthology of nearly four centuries of nature writing about one of America's premier regions -- the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Beginning with Captain John Smith's eager gaze westward in search of gold and ending with contemporary essayist John Daniel's transformative gaze inward in search of wilderness, The Height of our Mountains features the work of seventy of the nation's finest writers on nature, from 1607 to 1997. Responding to Thomas Jefferson's claim in Notes on the State of Virginia that "the height of our mountains has not yet been estimated with any degree of exactness," Branch and Philippon have gathered a diverse collection of written perspectives on the region in an effort to "measure" the remarkable richness of this landscape through a variety of literary forms and styles. The result is a wide-ranging survey that includes the colonial narratives of William Byrd and George Washington, as well as the natural histories of John Bartram and John James Audubon; the travel narratives of King Louis Philippe of France and the diaries and memoirs of Cornelia Peake McDonald, Walt Whitman, and John Burroughs; works of fiction by Edgar Allen Poe and Willa Cather; speeches by James Madison, Herbert Hover, and Franklin Roosevelt; and contemporary writings by Donald Culcross Peattie, Edwin Way Teale, Roger Tory Peterson, Annie Dillard, Donald McCaig, Peter Svenson, and Jake Page. The book contains a lengthy and detailed introduction on the character and form of nature writing, the concepts of place and bioregionalism, and the literary natural history of the Blue Ridge country itself. Ample notes, beautiful illustrations and amps, and a lengthy bibliography make this book a lasting treasure.

Industry Reviews

A strong sense of place is evoked in this impressive anthology of nature writing from the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley. Seventy selections drawn from four centuries of writing include excerpts from letters, travel journals, diaries, novels, speeches, government reports, and personal essays that explore the interaction between humans and the natural world. * Library Journal * All Virginia outdoor enthusiasts have visited the Blue Ridge, and all of them with a taste for reading will want to own The Height of Our Mountains. * Old Dominion Sierran * With its mixture of fiction, personal, and scientific writing, the book has something for everyone... From colonization to contemporary times, the list of writers represented (70 in all) is both impressive and surprising, including Jefferson's former slave Isaac, James Audobon, Walt Whitman, Willa Cather, Ellen Glasgow, and Annie Dillard. * Blue Ridge Outdoors * A model of regional nature-writing anthologies. * Virginia Quarterly Review *

List of Illustrations
A Note on the Text
Introductionp. 1
The Character and Form of Nature Writingp. 3
Region, Bioregion, and Placep. 9
A Literary Natural Historyp. 19
Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement (1607-1815)
"The Description of Virginia," from A Map of Virginiap. 49
[Blandina River], from The Discoverie of New Brittainep. 51
"The First Expedition," from The Discoveries of John Ledererp. 54
[We Supposed There to Be a Great Bay], from A Journal from Virginiap. 58
[All I Have Yet Observed], from "Letter to Dr. Robert Morison"p. 61
"Of the Earths, and Soil," from The History and Present State of Virginiap. 67
[The Spotswood Expedition], from The Journal of John Fontainep. 71
[A Prospect of the Mountains], from The History of the Dividing Linep. 78
[The Largest Landscape That Ever My Eyes Beheld], from Journal of a Trip to Maryland and Virginiap. 85
"Of the Soil" and "Of the Water," from The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islandsp. 88
A Journal of My Journey over the Mountainsp. 92
[Over the Pignut and Blue Ridges] and [Some Natural Curiosities], from Travels through the Middle Settlements in North Americap. 96
[North River], from The Journal of Philip Vickers Fithianp. 99
[The Opossum], [The Tick], [The Firefly], [The Persimmon], [The Turkey Buzzard], [The Dogwood], and [The Tulip Tree], from Travels through the Interior Parts of Americap. 104
"Query IV: A Notice of Its Mountains?" and "Query V: Its Cascades and Caverns?" from Notes on the State of Virginiap. 108
[Old Master], from Memoirs of a Monticello Slavep. 116
[Enniscorthy], [Monticello], [Up the Blue Mountains], [Staunton], and [Crossing Middle River], from Voyage into the United States of Americap. 118
[Beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains], from Journal of My Voyagep. 123
[The Peaks of Otter], [East and West of the Blue Ridge], and [The Shenandoah Valley], from Travels through the States of North America and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canadap. 126
[The Countryside Monotonous and Indifferently Farmed], from Diary of My Travels in Americap. 132
An Emerging Sense of Place (1816-1928)
[Sketch of a Mountain Landscape], from Letters from the Southp. 139
[Errors in Our Husbandry], from "Address to the Agricultural Society of Albemarle, Virginia"p. 142
[Say's Phoebe], from Ornithological Biographyp. 146
"Passage across the Alleganies," "Scarcity of Birds in North America," "Sweet Springs," and "White Sulphur Springs," from Narrative of a Tour in North Americap. 150
[There Is a Singular Joyousness in a Wilderness], from A Winter in the Westp. 154
"Climbing the Natural Bridge"p. 157
"Weyer's Cave," from The Poetry of Travelling in the United Statesp. 160
[The Student's Account of His Visit to the House Mountain], from Judith Bensaddip. 164
[The Sublime and the Beautiful], from Life of the Rev. William Grahamp. 169
[Harper's Ferry Disappointed Me], from Southward Ho!p. 173
[Ascent of South Peak], from Virginia Illustratedp. 176
[The Landscape Spread before Me] and [Yankee Pollution], from The Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buckp. 182
[What a Harvest Death Has Reaped] and [A World of Sweet Repose], from The Diary of Cornelia Peake McDonaldp. 184
"Virginia," from Memoranda during the Warp. 188
[Our March up the Shenandoah Valley], from Three Years in the Sixth Corpsp. 189
[The Burning], from A Boy of Old Shenandoahp. 192
[An Episode on Rumbling Creek], from Sketches from Old Virginiap. 195
[The Precincts of a Holy Place], from A World of Green Hillsp. 200
[No Thought for the Future], from Report on the Forests and Forest Conditions of the Southern Appalachian Regionp. 204
"The Hawk's Nest," from Memory Daysp. 207
"Small Country Neighbors," from Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunterp. 210
"With Roosevelt at Pine Knot," from Under the Maplesp. 216
[Mountains Rose around Them], from The Great Valleyp. 220
Preservation and Loss (1929-1997)
"Address at Madison Courthouse"p. 227
"An Essay on Virginia," from A Novelette and Other Prose, 1921-1931p. 229
[The Oversoul of Appalachian Virginia], from Vein of Ironp. 231
"Address at the Dedication of Shenandoah National Park"p. 236
[Mill House on Back Creek], from Sapphira and the Slave Girlp. 238
"The Northern Hardwood Groves" and "The Appalachian Forest Formation," from The Great Smokies and the Blue Ridgep. 242
"The Passing Show," from Wild Wingsp. 246
"Hunting Bee-Trees," from Tales, of Quails'n Suchp. 249
"May at Monticello," from North with the Springp. 254
"Down the Blue Ridge," from Wild Americap. 261
[Death of the Chestnuts], from The Blue Ridgep. 266
[On Spencer's Mountain], from The Homecomingp. 268
"A Spring Visit," from The Woodsp. 275
"Heaven and Earth in Jest," from Pilgrim at Tinker Creekp. 281
"The Forest Floor," from The Southern Appalachiansp. 290
"Elements of the North," from The Nature of Shenandoahp. 294
"The Passage of the Potomac," from The Blue Ridgep. 298
[On the Appalachian Trail], from Appalachian Odysseyp. 301
"A Walk in the Forest Primeval"p. 305
"Blue Ridge Complex," from A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridgep. 311
"A Mushroom House and Frogs Singing," from Once There Was a Farmp. 315
[August in Orchard Gap], from Simple Livingp. 319
"The Fine Art of Tree Farming"p. 323
"Marginal Stability," from Songs to Birdsp. 329
"Upriver," from "Ridge, Valley, and River"p. 331
[President of the Pond], from Preservationp. 336
"Boulder Dance"p. 342
Appendix of Literary Formsp. 347
Notesp. 351
Bibliographical Essayp. 387
Further Readingp. 401
Creditsp. 409
Indexp. 413
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780801856914
ISBN-10: 0801856914
Audience: General
For Ages: 22+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 456
Published: 5th March 1998
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.22 x 15.14  x 2.85
Weight (kg): 0.68