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Wild: An Elemental Journey Paperback – 1 May 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141006447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141006444
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.1 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"If a tiger could write poetry or a polar bear prose, they might write a book as exciting as Wild" -- Adrian Mitchell, Shadow Poet Laureate

"Jay Griffiths is a five-star, card-carrying member of the hellfire club... a strange, utterly compelling book, Wild is easily the best, most rewarding travel book that I have read in the last decade" -- Mark Cocker, Guardian, 9th June 2007,

"She tears out a stupendous style, volcanic yet soft like the sound of a river, cadenced as birdsong, in a book almost onomatopoeic in the use of language to match its view of the world.... Her use of etymology to reach into the core of a cultural vision is unsurpassed... a book constructed, through intuitive, poetic associations... she takes on the Western conceptual lexicon, exposing the misapprehensions on which it is based.. The result is a paean, a threnody, a work of great sadness and great joy" -- Toby Green, Independent 25th May 2007

"Very rarely do you come across a book that makes you want to stand on the street corner with a megaphone and bully every passer by into reading it. But this is how I felt about Wild, really one of the most exciting books
I've read for years. It's both a beautiful work of scholarship and a passionate polemic for more love and freedom and joy in today's grey, unsustainable and murderously bureaucratic world"
-- Tom Hodgkinson, Author of How to be Free

'Exhilarating... high-risk stuff, thrumming with unbridled erotic
charge... learned and poetically pagan... Nobody can fail to be enriched by
this book's wealth of observation and description' -- Jeremy Seal, Sunday Telegraph, 27 May 2007

'Incandescent... exhilarating...[Griffiths has] the intelligence
of a naturalist and the luminous originality of a visitor from another
planet... a profoundly important contribution... very readable' -- Richard Mabey, The Times, 26 May 2007

'Remarkable... She tears out a stupendous style... a book almost
onomatopoeic in the use of language to match its view of the world... The
result is a paean, a threnody, a work of great sadness and great joy'
-- Independent, 25 May 2007

A major book by a major writer ... she writes like four kinds of
gorgeous ... Wild is the book that shows how it should be done. -- Bill McKibben, The Ecologist, May, 2007

A vital, unique and uncategorisable celebration of the spirit of
life itself, Wild is a profound and extraordinary piece of work -- The Observer, 20 May, 2007 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jay Griffiths is the author of Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for the best new non-fiction writer in the USA (2003). Her writing has appeared in various publications including the London Review of Books, the Idler, the Ecologist, Resurgence, the Observer and the Guardian.


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Not many of us will visit the places and talk to the people that Jay Griffiths has, and perhaps that's just as well. We accompany her on a seven year journey as she shows us how much damage has been done to the wild corners and cultures of our planet by the resource-hungry and the religious zealots of the 'civilized' world. From the chill of the Arctic, to the heat of the Australian outback, using language that takes you right to the heart of the wild and deep into the recesses of her own soul, she shows us the incredible beauty and savagery of the planet. Her descriptions are as extraordinarily vivid as the landscapes through which she travels. Poetic, alliterative, coarse, rhythmic, her words dance across the page like a verbal ballet. We are even given the etymology of some of her choices, to enrich her meaning. The last section of the book contains the most moving diary of grief I have ever read. This is an odyssey to delight and challenge both the mind and the soul. Both her books are etched in my memory.
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Format: Paperback
This book does generally live up to its reviews. It is instinctive, visceral, and beautiful. It is also wild in every sense. It is a mix of travel writing, nature writing, anthropology, and nature philosophy. Her explorations are thoroughly hands-on and heartfelt, and i particularly like the way she shows how western religious attitudes are so damaging to the natural environment and indigenous people. Because she is so open and honest about her travels and encounters, and so vocal about her beliefs, it is not surprising that many people have commented on the feeling of activism that runs through the book.

Her style of writing is a mix of eloquence and honesty, and it can be very seductive. But it is not without its problems. Her political invective can sometimes feel a little over-done and personal. There are also frequent disparities between the language she uses and the ideologies she espouses. At one turn she will talk of nature as a dispassionate and unfeeling entity, and in the next sentence will extol the thinking and speaking powers of nature in flights of pathetic fallacy that go beyond the empathic points she makes. This made me lose trust in her convictions a little, and made me suspicious of her passion, because it sometimes gets used to hide her theoretical inadequacies. My last criticism would be that the issues she highlights with such alacrity in the first chapter, are basically repeated in the following chapters with a different natural element and location as the metophorical back-beat to her musings.

Despite all this, it is an enjoyable read, with some very valid points to make about nature, wildness, and environment. It should be treated with a little caution however, as once you have recovered from her salvos of passionate indignation, you are often left with a smouldering wreckage of problematic language and ideas.
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Format: Hardcover
An utter wonder of a book, at once vulnerable and ferocious, elegiac and giddy. It's a work that honestly engages the many-voiced vitality of the earth in all its elemental weirdness, a polyphonic fugue written in a style that for once matches the intensity of its topic. Luminously awake, politically astute, without a doubt "Wild" is the expression of a uniquely capacious intelligence, the song of a heart pulsing with compassion for divergent places, plants and creatures as they weather the insanity of contemporary civilization. Yet it's written with abundant empathy for the human animal, too, in our instinctive eloquence and our institutional stupidities. The author's rage sometimes nudges her into over-facile dichotomizing, but the polymorphous exuberance of her imagination steadily bursts the bounds of any such black-and-white theorizing. Meanwhile, her keen attunement to the music of language - and to the rootedness of words in the more-than-human soundscape of wave-surge and cricket-rhythm and thunder - enlivens this work with a magic that provokes the involvement of all one's senses. It's a deliciously erotic read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I see why people are seduced by this, but a hundred pages or so in, I fled back to Hemingway. A hundred pages of images like 'clouds mulled on the horizon'. A hundred pages of drama and ecstacy, with many proliferating adjectives, and whole flights of those alienated verbs Macfarlane likes too. It was like a Plath poem written out in long lines, but those poems need the space around them to make thier impact. I know the author is trying to say something about nature, and about its wildness, but the extreme expressivity loses impact when repeated and repeated over and over and over. I felt bludgeoned. It felt immature and starstruck, like a girl's letter to a rock star - touching, but not wise. (And the stuff about menstruation is total rubbish.) All the same, a little pruning (yes, I know) would have made a very good book of this. The wild doesn't have to be a screaming harpy. It can be gentle, too.
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Format: Hardcover
Jay has produced one of the best books I have ever read - and I have read a lot. She combines a joyful playfulness of language with a passionate love of the natural world. She has created a manifesto for a new world - but she has done it so cleverly that you could mistake this book for an adventure story. There is great daring and sacrifice as she explores the Wild-est parts of the world - shamanic drug-induced hallucinations in the Amazon, shredded feet in West Papua and erotic loneliness in the heart of Australia make for a great romp. But they sugar a very powerful medicine that will seep into your bones - we have to change our view of the world, we have to accept that there is great value in the Wild. My only criticism of the book is that it ends.
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