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The Back Country [Kindle Edition]

Gary Snyder
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Print List Price: £9.50
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Book Description

“A reaffirmation of a back country of the spirit."—Kirkus Reviews

“A reaffirmation of a back country of the spirit."—Kirkus Reviews

This collection is made up of four sections: "Far West"—poems of the Western mountain country where, as a young man. Gary Snyder worked as a logger and forest ranger; "Far East"—poems written between 1956 and 1964 in Japan where he studied Zen at the monastery in Kyoto; "Kali"—poems inspired by a visit to India and his reading of Indian religious texts, particularly those of Shivaism and Tibetan Buddhism; and "Back"—poems done on his return to this country in 1964 which look again at our West with the eyes of India and Japan. The book concludes with a group of translations of the Japanese poet Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933), with whose work Snyder feels a close affinity. The title, The Back Country, has three major associations; wilderness. the "backward" countries, and the “back country" of the mind with its levels of being in the unconscious.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 857 KB
  • Print Length: 150 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (17 Jan. 1971)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E4G6DQG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #886,713 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A much underestimated poet of the beat generation, which is a shame as Synder displays a level of spirituality in his writing which remains clear and vivid for the reader.
The Back Country is divided into three parts - Far West, Far East and Kali, dealing respectively with his time spent as a logger in the Western mountain country, his travels in Japan and his time spent wandering India. Each is wonderful in evoking its landscape, leaping off the page in a language rendered effective by its simple directness ('No thought but in things' in the words of W.C. Williams, in other words - say what you see) influenced by the haikus of zen poets such as Basho and Kenji (whose work is translated by Snyder at the back of this collection). An example of this style, found in the Far West -
'almost at the equator/almost at the equinox/exactly at midnight/from a ship/the full/moon/in the centre of the sky' is perhaps the best poem in the collection (certainly in the first part), Synder creating a vivid, beautiful picture in saying so little.
Not only Zen but also Hindu and even Native American mythology ('A Berry Feast') are to be found amongst the pages and it is clear how close to the poet's heart all matters regarding nature are. Here is a beat who loved to work and sweat in the heat of the mountains ('The Spring')and revelled in exotic, foriegn landscapes and cultures ('Pine River', 'The Public Bath').
Synder served as the muse for Kerouac's Dharma Bums and encouraged him to write his own sutra (he eventually conceded and we have 'The Scripture of the Golden Eternity' to thank Synder for), having a lasting impact on Kerouac's view of all matters spiritual. So much is to be gained from studying The Back Country that it's a wonder (and sad shame) it remains chiefly unknown and unrecognised.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Understated, Moving Poetry 6 Aug. 2000
By J. Mullin - Published on
I had to read many of the poems in this volume while taking a college course in Beat Literature, but in this reviewer's opinion the careful, Eastern-oriented poetry by Snyder has a mystical quality sorely lacking in poetry by writers like Kerouac, Corso, Ferlinghetti and even Ginsberg. Snyder captures the mountains of the pacific northwest, human relationships, campfires, and the mysteries of the far east in a careful and understated style. He sometimes makes use of the ancient Japanese style of haiku, and in all of his poems he seems to have rich, abundant ideas which he is able to convey in relatively few words. I have come back to this volume repeatedly over the years, and it always reveals a new secret and joy each time. Think of Snow Falling on Cedars in poetry form.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal Collection from the 1960s 20 Feb. 2015
By texcritic - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Gary Snyder attained fame and notoriety as a participant in the famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco in 1955. His fame was embellished further by his role as the model for the protagonist in Jack Kerouac's novel "The Dharma Bums". His first two books -- Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems and Myths and Texts -- solidified his position as one of the country's most interesting younger poets. But the Back Country was Snyder's masterpiece, and remains so today in a career full of high points. Written during a transition period between the author's mountain lookout jobs, stints in Japan, returns to America, marriage, divorce, journeys to India, and the cultural backdrop of the 1960s, this book is structured on these faults lines. We begin with "Far West", poems about the Sierras and Snyder's mountain jobs; we then move to "Far East", poems about Japan; "Kali" takes us to India, and represents a descent into the underworlds of Buddhist-themed suffering; and "Back" brings us back the America. The poems are taut and elliptical, with haiku-like precision. The book is a reflection of travel and the whirl of global, cultural interconnection that characterized much of the Sixties. At the time it was published, in 1968, there was simply no poetry like this in America, and Snyder deservedly became one of the nation's most celebrated poets -- a position he has maintained for almost fifty years now. There are too many good poems here to single out. If you are interested in reading one of the dozen seminal books of post-WWII American poetry, this is it. Indispensable.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! 28 May 2000
By Nathan T N Schreiber - Published on
This collection of poetry changed my life, I was deeply engaged with each installment!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snyder is great 2 Feb. 2014
By Sally J. Strubinger - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love Gary Snyder. I saw him recite his poetry in Nevada City in the early 70s. It was am amazing experience. A very intimate setting on the deck of house with just a few people in attendance. Not sure how I ended up going but that was the 70s.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Gary Snyder 24 Oct. 2010
By V. Scott - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the classic Gary Snyder. Includes A Berry Feast, which is itself a classic Snyder poem. It is interesting to read his later writing after reading this, and to follow his transitions through life. He is a marvelous poet, a lover of life and of the physical world, in which he understands his place. He is zen exuberance at its best.
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