Ecological Poetics of James Dickey: A Study in How Landscape Shapes the Being of Man

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An intelligent and provocative study exploring how the dynamic between nature and humanity animates many of Dickey’s major works. Its aim is to show the ways in which Dickey seeks to understand how it is possible for beings “to be” and what this means in terms of self-realization.

This intelligent study makes a major contribution to our understanding of a major poet and helps us to see James Dickey’s poetic and fictional corpus in an entirely new light.


“ The central idea of deep ecology, that humans are not separate from the forest and the rest of nature but that mankind is part of the earth, has not been fully addressed in Dickey’s work…Now, Professor Sue Brannan Walker addresses major works of James Dickey, establishing these theoretical links in Dickey’s work…”
-Dr. Joyce Morrow Pair, DeKalb College,
Atlanta, Georgia

“ Sue Brannan Walker’s study of James Dickey ecological poetics is as strikingly original as it is sophisticated and scholarly. Dickey’s visible land-scape, she suggests, taking her lead from Heidegger’s understanding of Being and Merleau-Ponty’s emphasis on “identification of self with all that is,” is a complex cognitive map of being-in-the-world. Examining, one by one, three of Dickey’s most important novels as well as key poetry collections like Puella, Walker traces the dialectic of Dickey’s unique ecopoetics – his compelling representation of the relationship of man to the earth which is his real home. Elegantly acknowledging the difficulty of fusing the human and the natural, Walker’s readings help us to see Dickey’s poetic and fictional corpus in an entirely new light."
-Dr Marjorie Perloff,
Sadie D. Patek Professor Emerita of Humanities at Stanford University

“James Dickey’s poetry and novels pulse with mythic resonances. Sue Walker’s intelligent and provocative study explores how the dynamic between nature and humanity animates many of Dickey’s major works. The book makes a major contribution to our understanding of a major poet, one whose oeuvre perpetually speaks to human’s yearning to understand our place in the cosmos.”
-Dr. Ernest Suarez,
Professor and Chair, Department of English, The Catholic University of America

"Sue Walker’s analysis of the philosophical or “deep” ecology inherent in James Dickey’s works constitutes the most profound and significant study of this major American poet and novelist in almost twenty years. Walker convincingly argues that Dickey’s effort to achieve otherness is not simply an exchange or merging, as previous critics have suggested, but rather a deliberate struggle for self-understanding within a larger environment of Being, a desire to know himself by means of entwined opposites that nevertheless maintain individual identity. No final comprehension of Dickey’s oeuvre is possible now without a thorough knowledge of Professor Walker’s heady and ground-breaking examination of this writer’s complex relations with Nature.”
-Dr. Gordon Van Ness,
Professor of English at Longwood University, Virginia

"Sue Walker's book on James Dickey and the philosophy within it is an important step in bringing the humanities and environmental science closer together."
-Dr. Edward O. Wilson,
Harvard University biologist and Pulitzer Prize winning author of "On Human Nature"

"Sue Brannan Walker has offered us a new way of regarding James Dickey, as a writer who brings a deep ecological sensibility to his influential work. In her sensitive explorations of Dickey’s prose, Walker deftly utilizes insights drawn from a wide range of thinkers, including Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. Based on what I have learned from Walker’s important new book, I will never think of Dickey’s writings in the same way again. I highly recommend her book not only to those who are interested in gaining new perspective on Dickey, but to all who want to witness an illuminating interplay among literature, phenomenology of nature, and philosophy.”
-Dr Michael Zimmerman,
Professor of Philosophy and former Director of the Center on Humanities and the Arts at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

"... offers a fresh look at ecology and philosophy in James Dickey's work in her book, The Ecological Poetics of James Dickey. Though intellectually challenging as it brings complex ideas from both Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to bear on Dickey's work. ... is a thoughtful, well-researched, and offers much new insight into Dickey's work." -Prof. Gary F. Leising, Utica College

Table of Contents

Foreword by Joyce Morrow Pair
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The River: Mouth, Metaphor, and the Chiasmic Deep Ecology of Deliverance
Chapter 3: The Universe Will Tell Us Where We Are: Nails, Glasses, Goggles, Earth, Air, Sound, Sextant, Navigator, and Self in Alnilam
Chapter 4: The Chiasmic Eco-Humanimal of James Dickey’s To the White Sea
Chapter 5: Woman as Nature/Nature as Woman: Interiority and Exteriority, Psychic Life, The Environment, and the Deep Ecology of James Dickey’s Puella
Chapter 6: In the Name of the Father: The Saying of Sex and Sin: “Day Sermon To The Women of Gilmer County, Georgia, By A Woman Preacher Leaving The Baptist Church
Works Cited

Other Literary Criticism Books