Under the Sea-Wind (Penguin Classics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2007/4/3
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Rachel Carson—pioneering environmentalist and author of Silent Spring—opens our eyes to the wonders of the natural world in her groundbreaking paean to the sea.
Celebrating the mystery and beauty of birds and sea creatures in their natural habitat, Under the Sea-Wind—Rachel Carson’s first book and her personal favorite—is the early masterwork of one of America’s greatest nature writers. Evoking the special mystery and beauty of the shore and the open sea—its limitless vistas and twilight depths—Carson’s astonishingly intimate, unforgettable portrait captures the delicate negotiations of an ingeniously calibrated ecology.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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I deduct one star not because of the book itself, but because of this Penguin edition. I believe there is another edition of the book with illustrations by Bob Hines, I think those illustrations are fantastic. This book contains the illustrations by Howard Frech, the same as the first edition. These illustrations are fine, but there are very few of them (I am not sure if the Penguin edition even includes all of the original Frech works). The edition with Bob Hines' illustrations are infinitely more fun to read, why did Penguin not use those? Actually, why not use both??
Written in a present tense, moment by moment style that is engaging, the prose seems effortless. Carson is undoubtedly an expert when it comes to the flora and fauna of the kinds of outer banks islands along the Atlantic Coast of the United States, and most of the readers who have vacationed anywhere from New Jersey to Florida will recognize many of the species she depicts. The narrative style allows Carson to inform as well as entertain her readers, with many fascinating facts about the birds, fish and other wildlife.
I read this book while on one of the North Carolina islands, and found it fitting that the shore birds I enjoyed watching in flight or along the beach were portrayed in such detail. Yet, for me, there was a bit too much of "and the next moment, animal A ate animal B, and then at once, animal A was eaten by animal C". After the first three chapters of this sort of thing, I became a bit tired of the relentless repetition of the survival of the fittest approach Carson takes throughout the book.
"Under the Sea Wind" received very good reviews in its first edition, but it sold poorly. After Carson's "The Sea Around Us" (1951) succeeded, "Under the Sea-Wind" was republished and gained a larger readership.
Rachel Louise Carson was born near Springdale, Pennsylvania, on May 27, 1907 and lived until April 14, 1964. She was a marine biologist and nature writer, whose books were instrumental in advancing global environmental awareness. Her best known book is "Silent Spring".
As with both her other books, Ms Carson's intelligence and heart leave glittering wakes through this overview of mid-twentieth century research on the sea, particularly its animal life. This is such a juicy book. Each creature she gives us, from whale to worm, is treated with a personal glee that endears them to us. She makes small stories of each of their singular lives. I now care personally about annelid worms. Who knew?
Drawing back from the individual she then illuminates the ways in which each life is dependent on the whole, and the whole on each life. She writes like an angel about the world of the mundane; simply, in gorgeously structured, shiny prose and all the while informed by her own massive research. Her love for her subjects leads the way, and refreshes itself at every turn. Her sense of detail is immersive, and her sensibility of the marvel of forms is catching.
There is something other than her brilliance that struck me about the above three books. Because Rachel Carson was writing in the years just before the spread of environmentalism, they are touchingly non-political in tone; no warnings, no fretting. They were followed by her last book, the enormously influential 'Silent Spring', a warning text that documents the ways in which the sea was suffering from human activity. Her love for the sea and its shores, so beautifully written in her first three books, is transformed into political awareness and activism. It's a good and lovely thing to witness. This author died in 1964 so we only have four books to fall in love with. Shame.