Wendell Berry is 'something of an anachronism'. He began his life as the old times and the last of the old-time people were dying out, and continues to this day in the old ways: a team of work horses and a pencil are his preferred working tools. The writings gathered in The World-Ending Fire are the unique product of a life spent farming the fields of rural Kentucky with mules and horses, and of the rich, intimate knowledge of the land cultivated by this work. These are essays written in defiance of the false call to progress, and in defence of the local landscapes that provide our cultural heritage, our history, our home.
In a time when our relationship to the natural world is ruled by the violence and greed of unbridled consumerism, Wendell Berry speaks out to defend the land we live on. With grace and conviction, he shows that we simply cannot afford to succumb to the mass-produced madness that drives our global economy. The natural world will not withstand it.
Yet he also shares with us a vision of consolation and of hope. We may be locked in an uneven struggle, but we can and must begin to treat our land, our neighbours, and ourselves with respect and care. We must, as Berry urges, abandon arrogance and stand in awe.
'A farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts,' Wendell Berry is the author of more than fifty books of poetry, fiction, and essays. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and Rockefeller foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts, and also the T. S. Eliot Award, the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement, and the National Humanities Medal. For more than forty years, he has lived and farmed in his native Henry Country, KY, with his wife, Tanya, and their children and grandchildren.
Paul Kingsnorth is a novelist, thinker and co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project. His books include One No, Many Yeses, The Wake, and, most recently, Beast. He lives in the west of Ireland.
"Compelling, luminous [...] our modern-day Thoreau. He is unlike anybody else writing today. He writes at least as well as George Orwell and has an urgent message for modern industrial capitalism [...] nobody can risk ignoring him"
– Andrew Marr, New Statesman
"A fascinating tribute to the life of the land [...] Berry's writings are timelier than ever"
– Laura Garmeson, Financial Times
"Persuasive [...] the poet laureate of America's farmland [...] Berry has a lot to say about the modern world"
"This collection sees the American published on these islands for the first time, and now he has finally stepped ashore, it's worth getting to know him [...] Berry overturns plenty of thoughtful topsoil on environmental issues with a precise pen, and clears any thicket of cosy consensus with a clear eye and cutting hand"
– Irish Times
"Here is a human being speaking with calm and sanity out of the wilderness. We would do well to hear him"
– Washington Post Book World
– James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd's Life
"The great moral essayist of our day"
– New York Review of Books
"Berry's marvellously provocative essays [...] shine with honesty and tenderness"
– New York Times Book Review
"Provocative, pellucid prose from a master"
– Kirkus Reviews