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Publisher Description

ARTHUR VERSLUIS'S Island Farm (2000) is an exemplary piece of writing, a personal memoir of his life on a generational family farm near Grand Rapids, Michigan. It also tenders probing reflections on the agrarian conservative tradition as it, too, disappears into "the sterile new American landscape, devoid of farms and of lived history on the land." No less poignant in this book is its evocation of spirit of place struggling to survive in an environment of mega-machines and mega-technology that annul the human factor and mercilessly regulate the rhythms and the seasons of our works and days. In short, it is a synecdochic work about the consequences of loss of human connections and continuity, and about a land and culture ceding to the idea of progress at any price. Perhaps it will be said that what Versluis is conveying are his nostalgic perceptions of farm and farmland vanishing "forever under earthmovers and pavement" in the midst of flux and drift, of rootlessness and alienation and absurdity, which, cumulatively, define an era of visual squalor and social disorder. The neoterists among us will doubtlessly dismiss Versluis's witness as being incipiently insular, romantic, escapist, elegiac, out of touch with the daunting demands of present--day realities. The author, on the contrary, is acutely aware of our contemporary realists and what they will say, and say with a brutishness born of indifference to a "stable landscape." Versluis's question, "Do we not as much reflect as create our landscape?" is a commanding question in our troubling situation. Indeed, what he shows, in effect, is that we choose to be ignorant of our sacred patrimony; that we eagerly enact modern versions of impiety; that we too easily betray our trust, our loyalty, our self-esteem to an ephemeral "technomagic"; that we rush to surrender both the legacy of our ancestors and the permanencies of values and tradition, our "grand unseen inheritance of understanding."

Professional & Technical
September 22
Intercollegiate Studies Institute Inc.
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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