Imagination in Place
Wendell Berry. Counterpoint LLC, $24 (196pp) ISBN 978-1-58243-562-6
Berry, an outspoken cultural critic, agrarian and prolific author (with more than 50 books), writes that imagination ""brings what we want and what we have ever closer to being the same. It is the power that can save us from the prevailing insinuation that our place, our house, our spouse, and our automobile are not good enough."" In these 15 essays, culled from the past two decades, Berry consistently backs up this bold statement while discussing everything from the Civil War to Shakespeare to religion. Each piece illustrates Berry's assertion that there is an unbreakable connection between a literary work and the place in which it is conceived; to that end, he examines the influence of place on his own creation, the fictional Kentucky town of Port William, as well as the integral role of the natural world in Shakespeare's As You Like It and King Lear. Some of the selections feel redundant-the point is made time and again that we must cultivate our imaginations in order to exist harmoniously with our surroundings-but this thought-provoking volume does reinforce Berry's relevance as one of America's preeminent thinkers.
Reviewed on: 01/18/2010