Roots of words – Into the woods

Dec 27, 2021 | written by:

An encounter between literature and nature. The section all about books related to the environment and sustainability.
This month: we go into the woods. Three essential books for anyone who loves woods, to find out more about them and how to respect them.

Walden; or, Life in the Woods - Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau was a famous 19th-century American philosopher, writer and poet who is still extremely relevant today. The recommended text is one of his masterpieces, a personal, philosophical and political diary. Thoreau commits to paper the two years from July 1845 to September 1847 when he lived completely immersed in the countryside and woods of Massachusetts. The time he spent in symbiosis with nature became a space for reflection, leading him to unflinchingly criticise American society, its commercialism and utilitarianism, radically distancing himself from it.

walden, inglese

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Walden; or, Life in the Woods is erudite and poetic but still accessible, and has always been considered the manifesto of the most “radical” environmentalists and ecologists. A famous passage from the book fittingly describes the author and the reason for his life choices: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Seasons - Mario Rigoni Stern.

Mario Rigoni Stern is one of those writers who, once you’ve read him, you can’t go without. It was the 100th anniversary of his birth a few weeks ago, so it seems appropriate to pay tribute to him now.
He spent his entire childhood in the mountains (in the early 20th century) and saw the horrors of war firsthand. This terrible experience accentuated his literary sensitivity and his boundless love for nature.
The book we’ve chosen is an autobiographical tale marked by the changing of the seasons. A succession of memories and thoughts: images of war, childhood, and first conquests in adulthood, with every moment marked by the perpetual presence of nature. A book that’s attentive and critical towards humanity for destroying the environment we live in without realising the consequences.

stagioni italiano

Make space between the pages
The author’s favourite season is autumn, a time when the forest takes on its lovely silence, while its opposite season of spring signifies discovery, searching and newness. This straightforward yet evocative excerpt describes them perfectly: “While the first snow you hear falling on a November night is an invitation to immerse yourself in reminiscence or reading, the first April rain you hear beating on the roof refreshes and relaxes you. You have a good sleep and then, in the morning, the desire to go, to get outside and walk freely and aimlessly, because spring has no boundaries.”

Under the Open Skies - Markus and Frida Torgeby

This book is the icing on the cake to end the perfect walk through the woods. Markus Torgeby is famous for “Running Wild”, his first book, which tells of his love for running in the wildest nature.
Under the Open Skies is the story – almost a diary/guide – through words and images, of the days the Torgebys spent in the open air, among trees, animals and new sounds. A unique experience that shaped them, though not an easy one, and they don’t gloss over the tough parts, instead covering both the hurdles and the beauty of it in a matter-of-fact way. 
Reading it makes you want to get your backpack ready and set out to try out this life – at least for a few days. To connect with nature in all its shades, to become aware of ourselves and the world, to take concrete action and safeguard it.

torgeby inglese

Make space between the pages
The photographs aid understanding, but it’s the words that help convey the emotion of living in the woods. Here is a passage from the text: “I believe in sleeping outdoors, surrounded by tall fir trees, darkness, and cold. Lying on my back and looking up at the stars, watching my breath form thin clouds. Something happens when you're surrounded by an infinite room.”

Enjoy reading… in the woods!

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